Forest Park Profiles: Anglers at Jefferson Lake

The 14-foot-deep, nine-acre Jefferson Lake sits in the southeastern edge of Forest Park. Parts are shaded by trees, brush and cattails, while others are speckled with lily pads and graceful great blue heron. Dusk is when the bugs come out and fish begin to surface in the hopes of grabbing one for dinner. It is also the time when anglers arrive in the hopes of maybe catching a fish for their own dinners.

Families, couples, siblings and friends — amateurs or experienced — come to Jefferson Lake for quality time, the challenge of the sport and the peaceful quiet. Those walking, biking or driving past can see how serene this activity can be, with the lines stretched out from land into the water bobbing up and down with each ripple or tug from a fish’s mouth.

Everyone has their own story as to why they’re there — why this is the place they’re certain to find their perfect catch.
 

KENNETH & DOROTHY

 Kenneth has been fishing for 50 years, Dorothy for 30.

Kenneth has been fishing for 50 years, Dorothy for 30.

Dusk is the best time to be here, but it depends on the fish — sometimes you don’t catch anything.
We’re here half the season and we’ll keep what we find if it’s within regulation. If you catch a big one here it gives you bragging rights.
There are turtles in here too — and brim, which are like bass but smaller.
Fishing is very relaxing and fulfilling. And you can feed yourself.
 Married couple Kenneth and Dorothy have 80 years of fishing experience between them, and it shows with their efficient set-up in their favorite spot.

Married couple Kenneth and Dorothy have 80 years of fishing experience between them, and it shows with their efficient set-up in their favorite spot.

 “Some people use bobbers so they can see when the fish is pulling, but we use bells. If you hear a tinkle, it means the fish are biting, but a jingle means it’s on the line.”

“Some people use bobbers so they can see when the fish is pulling, but we use bells. If you hear a tinkle, it means the fish are biting, but a jingle means it’s on the line.”

TRAMONA & ERIC

 Tramona and Eric are on the hunt for blue gill, crappie, bass and catfish.

Tramona and Eric are on the hunt for blue gill, crappie, bass and catfish.

At this point I just want to catch anything. These fish are smart — they keep teasing me. It’s almost like they’ve been trained or something. We’re using little maggots, but some fish will even eat corn.

MARK, SEAMUS & ANGELO

I used to live in Oklahoma and fish every day. I was driving through Forest Park with my son Seamus one day in November and pulled over to ask a guy if there were any fish in this lake. He said, ‘Are you kidding me? They just released 2,600 trout in here yesterday.’
I’ve been trout fishing here before but this is my first time for catfish. Last time we were here in this exact spot and we caught a trout as big as Seamus when he was 5. But of course we released it — I would never keep a fish.
 Mark’s trout catch last year at Jefferson Lake.

Mark’s trout catch last year at Jefferson Lake.

 Mark’s son Seamus and his friend Angelo are certain swords are a very important part of fishing.

Mark’s son Seamus and his friend Angelo are certain swords are a very important part of fishing.

KRISTY

I live nearby on Lindell. My dad is down here for Memorial Day weekend and he likes to fish. Last time we were here we caught catfish and carp. We heard there’s trout too. But we haven’t caught anything today. We’re using sausage pizza as bait.
 Kristy and her mom hope for the best at dusk on Memorial Day weekend.

Kristy and her mom hope for the best at dusk on Memorial Day weekend.

Editor's note: Jefferson Lake is stocked with fish by the Missouri Department of Conservation. People fishing here might find blue gill sunfish, green sunfish, catfish and bass. Trout, which can only survive in cold water, is stocked in the winter. Jefferson Lake users will be interested to know that Forest Park Forever is currently raising $30 million to complete capital improvement projects in partnership with the City of St. Louis. Jefferson Lake is among those Park sites that will be improved in the coming years, including for those who enjoy using the lake to fish.