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Sports & Recreation

Best Place To Take the Kids Fishing 

Harry L. Simpson Park

How many fishhooks can be baited with a single nightcrawler? That is a question for Sunday mornings, when Valley Park Hardware with its full bait shop doesn't open until 11 a.m., leaving only the quickie-mart down the road, where 2 bucks buys a dozen crawlers. Besides a pole and a stringer (and a license for those over 16), that's all you'll need to catch the finny denizens of the 70-acre lake within this St. Louis County park. Up to 100 feet deep in parts, the lake was once a quarry belonging to Simpson Sand & Gravel. With other acquisitions over time, the park now boasts 206 acres, ample room for the kids to get their ya-yas out. It is mainly a fishing lake. There are boats, although it is not a well-trafficked body and because only trolling motors are permitted, the peace is undisturbed. On the east side, a sheltered picnic area leads to a floating dock big enough to fit 15 anglers. Get there early to call dibs on the lone picnic table. Because the lake connects to the Meramec River by way of Grand Glaize Creek, its fish population is quite eclectic, featuring silver carp, spoonbill catfish, buffalo and several species of bass. Also, the Missouri Department of Conservation puts in 350-400 catchable-size catfish every fall. But for kids who just want to have something on the ends of their lines, the bluegill and crappie near the dock will usually accommodate. The egrets, herons and ducks are welcome distractions, and when the kids do get bored with drowning worms, there is a playground nearby.

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