Temporary free fishing in Missouri due to coronavirus anxiety

It’s still safe to go outside and the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) will soon be giving folks incentive to do so.

In a move prompted by the current coronavirus emergency, MDC has announced permit-free fishing in Missouri beginning Friday and continuing through Wednesday, April 15.

“The current public health emergency caused by COVID-19 has many Missourians and others looking for safe ways to get outside in nature,” said MDC director Sara Parker-Pauley, in a release Tuesday.

“Fishing is … a great way to get way to get some much needed physical and mental health benefits during this stressful time,” Parker-Pauley added.

The abridged MDC release reads as follows:

“The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and the Missouri Conservation Commission announce they are temporarily waiving permit requirements for sport fishing and daily trout tags for Missouri residents and nonresidents whose fishing privileges are not otherwise suspended.

“The waiver of needing a permit or trout tag to fish will run from Friday, March 27, through April 15. MDC will reassess the situation at that point. All season dates, methods and limits will continue to apply and be enforced.

“To reduce possible increased social congregation, MDC will suspend daily trout stocking at all trout parks starting Friday and has suspended other fish stocking in waters around the state until further notice.

“According to the Department of Natural Resources, Missouri’s state parks remain open. However, in reaction to COVID-19 and out of an abundance of caution, the parks will temporarily close all campgrounds and lodging effective this Friday through Thursday, April 30. This includes campgrounds, park-run lodging and concessionaire-run lodging. While they are not able to accommodate overnight guests, the state parks remain open to the public for day-use, including boat ramps and more than 1,100 miles of trails.

“We are taking these measures now to reduce the impact of COVID-19,” said Mike Sutherland, director of state parks in Missouri. “The outdoors provide a great opportunity to relax and de-stress. Even outdoors, it is important to practice social distancing, avoid large gatherings and wash your hands often,” Sutherland added.

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