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May 16 is the date for the biggest fishing event of the year, as far as I am concerned. That is the date of the annual Southeast Missouri Sportsmen’s Association’s Fish and Fun Day. This is the big event of the year for the association. The SEMO organization is the second oldest conservation organization in the state of Missouri.
This organization started more than 70 years ago by a few men who felt that the area needed an organization devoted to the conservation efforts for the region.
I believe that John McMullin senior was the first president and the annual membership dues was set at $1 per year. The fee was used for conservation efforts such as planting food plots and building ponds in the Cane Ridge area of Butler County. Also for the membership dues there was a wild game meal.
In the early days of the organization, political figures, mostly governors of the state were speakers and the crowds appreciated their appearances as their fees were memberships in the organization. Most of the food was donated by local grocery stores which kept the organizations cost down to where we had a profit to do some of the activities sponsored by the group. One of the projects was getting the fire danger sign set up by the US Forest Station in Poplar Bluff. When you drive past, take a quick glance at that sign and remember the SEMO Sportsmen’s group got it done.
When I started work in the composing room of the Daily American Republic, I was coerced into joining the group. That was in 1951 and I have been a member ever since. I even have a lifetime membership card for my contributions in the early years. I served several years as secretary and continued to be a member who was active and participated when my job would allow me the time.
Fish and Fun Day has had three locations in all the years. The Conservation Commission stocked the lake at George Wisdom’s farm when the lake needed more fish to make it a good day for the kids.
When George sold his farm, the event was moved to a lake on Township Line Road. After a few years the location was changed to Don Jones’ lake on T Highway northeast of Poplar Bluff.
There is no entry fee and winning prizes are giving out by a drawing of cards deposited in the drawing box when the kids enter the event. There is a meal served at around 11 am after three hours of fishing. I have personally watched kids land a catfish which was near 10 lbs. and last year a bass was caught that was in the six lb. range.
All this is for free including the meal of hot dogs, hamburgers, dessert, and drinks. No minnows are allowed and bait is provided with some fishing rods and reels if your youngster doesn’t have any. The age limit is up to and including 12 years of age. Adults are welcome to stay or they can drop off their kids, but it is recommended that you stay and participate.
This is a catch and release event.Share: