Park prepares to welcome 2,000 anglers

Friday, March 2, 2007

Jerry Dean, Roaring River State Park Hatchery manager, expects 2,000 anglers to crowd the banks of Roaring River on opening day, March 1, which falls on Thursday this year.

"The last time opening day was on a Thursday was in 2001 when 1,938 tags were sold," said Dean. "We plan to stock 6,000 trout for an estimated 2,000 anglers for the 2007 opener."

This year, hatchery crews will stock the river with three fish for each angler visiting the park. In addition, the crews will add around 50 lunkers to the stream. A lunker is a fish that weighs between two and six pounds.

This year, one dedicated angler will be honored with the first trout tag of the season. Jack Overman, of Pittsburg, Kan., who has been fishing at Roaring River for around 75 years will receive the first tag of the season.

Overman will also be present during the opening day ceremony to fire the starting gun at 6:30 a.m. on March 1.

"Jack has been fishing here longer than anyone I know and has observed first hand much of the history of Roaring River," said Dean. "Jack learned to fly fish from other visitors in the park as many people do. This park has a tradition of anglers helping other anglers out."

Overman is also representative of the more than 53 percent of the park's fishermen who come to Roaring River State Park each year from out of state.

The first, second and third youth tags will be presented to winners of an art contest, which is open fifth, sixth and seventh grade students at Cassville Middle School.

Sen. Jack Goodman, of Mt Vernon, will be present during the opening day ceremony to fire the starting gun.

Members of the Cassville Area Chamber of Commerce will serve hot coffee on the banks of the river beginning at 5 a.m.

Joe Schnabl and Darrin Jacobs are in charge of making the coffee this year. Between 30 and 40 volunteers will be available to serve coffee throughout the morning.

This year, coffee cups are being sponsored by: the Cassville Democrat; Hutchens Construction; Les Jacobs Ford-Mercury, Inc.; Barry County Care Center; Baywash Carwash; Logos and More and the Trophy Place; Oakhill Court; Jim Rogers and Roaring River State Park Concessions; and Rock Village Court and RV Park.

The Chamber will present trophies to individuals who land the largest fish in men's, women's and youth divisions. The fish must be weighted at the Chamber's weigh-in station, which will be located in the lower level of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Lodge.

Last year, opening day fell on a Wednesday and 2,107 anglers visited Roaring River to kick off the trout fishing season.

This year, Roaring River's opening day attendance is expected to be below two other Missouri trout parks. Bennett Springs is expecting 2,300 anglers and Montauk is expecting 2,200 fishermen this year. Maramec Spring has estimated that 1,500 anglers will visit on March 1.

Thanks to several improvements completed at the park over the last two years, anglers visiting Roaring River State Park can expect to see a difference in the quality of the fish stocked in the stream this year.

"Installation of a liquid oxygen system was completed during the off-season at the hatchery," said Dean. "This system will allow us to raise fish more securely and eliminate the need to move our fish to other hatcheries in all but extreme low water situations.

"The liquid oxygen will allow us to hold fish a lot longer," said Dean. "We will be able to handle around 150 percent of our normal capacity. That will enable us to maintain our normal 212,000 pounds of fish instead of dropping production during low water times."

Along with the liquid oxygen system, the installation of a water intake at the mouth of the spring will help the hatchery staff maintain cleaner water inside the hatchery and along the production raceways. In addition, crews have sealed the leaks in the spring pool, relined the hatchery raceways and added a new gear system at the falls.

Fishermen can begin purchasing 2007 trout fishing tags at the CCC Lodge at 9 a.m. on Feb. 28. The lodge will remain open all night.

The Emory Melton Inn and Convention Center and Roaring River Restaurant will also open to the public at 9 a.m. on Wednesday.

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