Fishing in St. Joseph

October 14, 2019

Written by Rachel McCoy | Photography by Emily Baumann and provided by St. Joseph Convention & Visitors Bureau


DEFINITION: Free from commotion or tumult; peaceful; quiet; calm:

Got a fish tale to share? If you do, St. Joseph is a city that welcomes you to try and top it. If you don’t, drop a line in any of the city’s urban fishing areas – and you can even rent your gear, at no charge. (But what you say about your catch is all up to you.)

Urban fishing is “catching” on in a big way across the state of Missouri. Workshops and gear rental are becoming more common, as are special fishing programs for anglers of all ages. In St. Joseph, enjoying nature by way of rod and reel has maintained steady popularity for several years, due in part to accessible fishing locations and recent enhancements to make the sport (or hobby) easier.

Here’s a brief guide to St. Joseph’s uncommon fishing scene, starting with some unique options for getting the gear. And to all the spontaneous dabblers, the super-planners, the slightly-squeamish and seasoned anglers…We say welcome. We are glad you are here.

Getting the Gear: Pack Your Own, or Rent for Free A recent program from the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) lists places like area libraries that rent fishing rods, reels and tackle box to library card holders on a first-come basis. It’s called the Rod-And-Reel Loaner Program. In St. Joseph, you can rent up to two sets per visit with a library card in good standing at the St. Joseph Public Library, East Hills Branch or at the Rolling Hills Library, Belt Branch. For bait, options include Dick’s Bait and Tackle, The Bait Shop, Gann Bait and Tackle, or J and B Outdoors. These are locally-owned and can offer lots of answers for lots of questions. If bringing your own gear is more your style, you can upgrade your personal collection at several of these locations, too.

License (a.k.a., Fishing Permit) Here’s a long fishing story short: You are required to have a license (permit), if you’re an adult. Get yours online or in person through MDC. You can choose to print a paper fishing permit or purchase the QR code so that your permit is scannable from your phone. You may also get a fishing license or permit in-person at Walmart. Keep yours on-hand or on your person while you are fishing. The permits help support nature programs, education and conservation across our state and region – so it is actually a very important piece of paper (or part of your phone).

If you aren’t sure you can commit to fishing as a hobby or sport, check out the Free Fishing Days offered by the Missouri Department of Conservation during the spring and summer months. These special designated days allow you to try fishing without a permit. All other days a permit is required, as you already know.

Nature Sport Central has a detailed resource on how to get your fishing license in every state in the USA.

The Water and the Fish One fishing spot to check out is Krug Park, with a paved fishing area surrounded by green space and the photo-worthy waterfall. Expect bluegill and perch, and the occasional catfish. Look for ducks and geese all around the area, and take time to enjoy a walk through this architectural and historical landmark. Built in 1902, the 163-acre park is filled with things to discover, like biking and walking paths, an amphitheater, stone walls, the famous “castle” area, play structures and more. So even if you don’t get a big catch, you can still have a story to tell.

At Corby Pond, the dock allows for convenient fishing, but so do the expansive bank areas. Like Krug Park, look for bluegill and perch and the occasional catfish. Corby Pond is located along a series of nice walking trails and biking paths, so you can extend your enjoyment of St. Joseph’s natural spaces. And if the fish aren’t biting, don’t give up hope. You can still get a bite of your own at nearby Pronto Café, Belle Epoque, or Crumbly Burger, for starters.

When it comes to urban fishing, or fishing “lite,” or just dropping in a quick line, the Missouri Western State University pond has everything you need for fun, minus the hassle. Located just south of the Faraon Street entrance, you can catch bluegill and perch, plus trout, when they’re in season. You may also bring in a bass from the floating metal dock. There are a few catfish, if you are patient enough; in fact, the paved walking path surrounding the pond allows you to try your patience at several fishing spots without tramping into any tall weeds.

This paved path continues across the University, winding through woodchip and wooded areas, and can also take you straight to the Missouri Department of Conservation Northwest Regional Conservation Office. Here you can explore some really cool locally-based conservation exhibits, including live fish or turtles, snakes and sometimes even spiders. The Conservation office is open during weekdays at no charge, and there are several agents and walls of literature available to boost your nature knowledge. The exhibits are especially interesting to children, and some are touch-and-feel.

Just a few minutes south of St. Joseph, bluegill, bass, crappie and channel catfish may find their way to your bait at Belcher Branch Lake. A paved lot, restroom facilities and a dock area add to the experience. It’s a visually interesting area – rugged and rocky in parts and mowed grass areas in others – creating a nature-filled experience without needing a big thought-out plan or an all-day excursion. Boats are welcome here, too, and it’s large enough at 55 acres to find your own little piece of quiet.

Don’t forget: Each unique location has its own rules and regulations including strict catch and release policies or seasonal fishing regulations. Please consult with each location to ensure that you are abiding by their specific rules for fishing.

To sum it up, St. Joseph’s fishing opportunities are easily accessible, surrounded by natural beauty and neatly connected to so many paths and attractions. It’s a great time to create your own uncommon fishing story … no prior experience required.


Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978, this architectural feat, designed by esteemed local architects Eckel and Mann, is getting a second life thanks to a $20 million shot in the arm from Mosaic Life Care.


In addition to its paved walking paths, the Parkway features miles of rugged biking and hiking trails and serves as a red carpet to some of St. Joseph’s most interesting places.


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Not only does the SBTDC help hundreds of small business owners capitalize on their dreams, it is a great example of how government agencies, higher education, and nonprofit organizations can work together for the greater good.


Games of chance and dining establishments have been a part of St. Joseph, Missouri’s uncommon character since the earliest settlers gathered to let off some steam and gamble on optimistic odds.