Youngsters set record at Roaring River
Sunny weather drew a record number of young anglers to Roaring River State Park on Saturday. Youth fishing tags were distributed to 1,265 youngsters during the park's annual fall Kids' Fishing Day event.
"The event turned out great," said Jerry Dean, Roaring River Hatchery manager. "We didn't have any major problems. The weather was nice, and everything really went well."
A Kids' Fishing Day volunteer brought a trained labrador to the event and many students were able to attend the special class to learn about the retrieving canine.
"We hope to add that to our list of classes next year," said Dean. "It was really neat."
Among the large number of youngsters who attended the event was a group of 25 kids from the Kansas City area. The kids attended the event through the Urban Population Outreach Program (UPOP) and were escorted by former Roaring River State Park superintendent Kevin Bolling.
"The UPOP program sponsors day trips to parks in the Kansas City area," said Bolling, who now serves as Kansas City area operations manager. "Once a year, the kids get to go out and camp somewhere overnight. Since I came from Roaring River and I knew about Kids' Fishing Day, I suggested the group attend the event."
The UPOP group travelled from Kansas City to Prairie State Park in Mindenmines on Aug. 15. After touring the state park, they traveled to Diamond to visit the George Washington Carver National Monument.
The group arrived in Roaring River on Friday evening. After enjoying supper at the Roaring River Restaurant, the kids retired to Camp Smokey to rest for Kids' Fishing Day.
"They had a blast fishing and taking part in all of the Kids' Fishing Day activities," said Bolling. "On Saturday night we cleaned all of their fish and had a fish fry. We also had a campfire and cooked smores.
"It was a good experience for all of the kids," said Bolling. "The volunteers were fantastic. Most of these kids had never fished before and the volunteers were very good to help them."
Bolling hopes UPOP will be able to sponsor another Kids' Fishing Day trip next year.
In addition to a free trout fishing tag, the UPOP group and other kids who visited the park on Saturday were awarded an assortment of prizes, including Roaring River fishing caps that were donated by Jim Rogers Concessions.
Park employees snapped photos of all youngsters who landed their first fish or reeled in a fish that weighed more than 1.75 pounds. First Fish applications were completed by 77 young anglers.
In addition to a free day of trout fishing, youngsters had the opportunity to participate in over 30 different outdoor education classes. Over 450 kids attended at least two classes and were rewarded with a free fishing tag and a variety of small prizes.
Kids who attended more than two classes had the opportunity to enter a drawing for larger prizes. Fly rods and reels were also awarded to five youngsters who entered a drawing by attending at least one fly fishing class.
Brittany Shelley, from Concordia, Okla., and Paul Oldnettle, from Purdy, won fly fishing rods donated by Charlie Stock of Mid-West Flies. David Waugh donated fly fishing rods that were won by Spencer Clayton, of Sarcoxie, and Renee Roth, of Columbus, Kan.
Rachelle Roth, of Columbus Kan., won a fly tying kit that was donated by the MAKO Fly Fishing Club. The club also donated a fly rod, which was won by Jacob Butler, of Joplin. Butler also also awarded an Alpine bow, donated by Alpine Bows representative Richard Simpson.
Trophies and $50 savings bonds were awarded to several young anglers who landed big fish during the Kids' Fishing Day event.
Lee Ann Iott, of Summersville, won the largest fish competition in the girls' division with a 7.44-pound catch. Iott also won the girls' division largest stringer contest with a 12.34-pound stringer.
Wesley Iso, from Dallas, Texas, won the largest fish competition in the boys' division with a 6.56-pound trout. Deacon Greninger, from Pryor, Okla., won the largest stringer contest in the boy's division with 12.3 pounds of fish.
Youngsters who reeled in fish that weighed over three pounds were entered into a drawing for free mounts that were donated by Russ Pendergraft, of Visions of Wildlife Taxidermy in Cassville, and Mark Jones, of Visions Taxidermy in Gateway, Ark. The free mounts were awarded to Chad Smith, of Fairland, Okla., and Greninger.
Around 70 volunteers attended the event to assist young anglers. Volunteer Gary Shoemaker, of Aurora, was recognized for participating in the event for 10 years.
The 2008 fall Kids' Fishing Day at Roaring River was sponsored by the following businesses and organizations: the Missouri Department of Conservation; the Department of Natural Resources; Academy Sports in Joplin; Jim Rogers, Dave Waugh and Roaring River Concessions; Charlie Stock, of Mid West Flies; Les Jacobs Ford-Mercury; Able 2 Products; Cassville Area Chamber of Commerce; Luck-E-Strike USA; Mark Jones' Vision Taxidermy; Russ Pendergraft's Vision of Wildlife Taxidermy; Tim's Fly Shop; Wal-Mart, of Bentonville, Ark., and Cassville; Havenar's Fisherman's Inn; Cassville Ramey; Commerce Bank; Bank of America; Security Bank; Freedom Bank; and MAKO Fly Fishing Club.
Roaring River will host its 2009 Kids' Fishing Day events on May 16, 2009, and Aug. 15, 2009.