Show-Me Angler Adventures

New book from MU shares tales of Missouri fishing experiences

Front cover

Chris Rice vividly remembers one of his favorite fishing experiences when he was 12 years old. His father had just bought a new bass boat and the two were headed to Lake Wappapello in southeast Missouri.

A day of lackluster fishing took a quick turn for the better after the duo stumbled upon a large school of white bass. Fish were nearly flying into the boat and within minutes, the father-son team caught their limit.

“It was an experience that brought me closer to my family, one that gave me a sense of belonging and made me feel at home on the water,” wrote the 20-year-old Chris Rice. “Undoubtedly, it made me the avid angler I am today.”

Chris’ story is one that illustrates the importance of fishing. It is not just about conquest, but the social bonding, being outdoors and life lessons learned while wetting a line.

His tale also is one of 50 featured stories from Missouri anglers in the new book Hook, Line & Sinker, now for sale at The Mizzou Store.

Mark Morgan, associate professor of parks, recreation and tourism, and Graduate Assistant Jennah Sontag collected the stories from anglers and co-taught the class, Social Aspects of Fishing.

Fifteen students enrolled in the special-topics writing-intensive class offered by the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism. They read books about fishing folklore, studied what fishing meant to people and edited each of the stories. The MU Campus Writing Program provided assistance and moral support for the class.

“It was like stepping back in time reading some of these stories and hearing about the values people associate with fishing,” said Morgan. “But for me it was about promoting the sport of fishing in a fun way, through storytelling. Most of the stories shared did not involve catching fish, but instead focused on memories such as spending time with a grandparent, resolving differences with others and seeing things in nature that you wouldn’t have otherwise.”

Stories included tales of a capsized boat thanks to a snake falling out of a low-hanging tree, an amazing feat of catching the same fish on two different fishing poles and an adolescent gesture of bringing worms home in a school lunch box but forgetting all about the creates until smelling them the next day.

One heart-warming tale from Rebecca Fitzpatrick of Columbia talked about how a fishing trip with her father was one of the last things they did together before he passed. It was an experience she holds dear to her heart.

A Book in an Instant

Although the class and the final editing process finished just a few months ago, the book is already on shelves thanks to the help of Mizzou’s new Espresso Book Machine, a part of the many services Mizzou Publishing offers.

“We work with a lot of different authors and provide help with design, printing and marketing of books,” said Heather Tearney, assistant manager of textbooks at The Mizzou Store. “What we can provide is a one-on-one interaction with the author to make the book the best possible.”

The machine works as an on-demand service. Whenever an author wants to print more books, it’s as easy as going downstairs to the lower level of The Mizzou Store and instantly printing out more copies.

“It definitely cut down on costs for me,” added Morgan. “Also, it was great to get the quick turnaround. I got a proof back within a couple of days.”

Tearney added that using Mizzou Publishing keeps things in-house and all of the sales go back to the MU system. “We also have students that are the graphic designers helping with the books. That gives them a learning experience and something to add to their portfolio.”

Getting Back to Nature

Besides providing a learning experience for the students, Morgan admits that even from the beginning the purpose of the class and book was to promote outdoor activities and experiences.

MU associate professor Mark Morgan in his Social Aspects of Fishing class, where about 15 students work on a book about anglers in Missouri.MU associate professor Mark Morgan in his Social Aspects of Fishing class, where about 15 students work on a book about anglers in Missouri. Photo by Shane Epping

“Fishing is such a fun, easy and cheap form of recreation,” said Morgan. “It can teach us lessons and improve our quality of life well beyond the sport. It’s all about being outdoors. Say you didn’t catch a fish, but you saw a rare bird. That’s an experience worth having.”

Morgan’s teaching assistant for the class, Jennah Sontag added that the stories represent people from so many different backgrounds, but yet everyone can relate. “Hopefully this book will inspire someone to go fishing or at least get outside and explore nature. Also, it would be a great companion on your next fishing trip.”

To order the book, visit The Mizzou Store on the MU Campus or visit Cost is $10.95.

For more information about the printing machine visit