Anglers began to line the Roaring River stream before 5 a.m. on March 1. Park staff members placed makeshift barrel campfires along the banks to help anglers combat the frigid temperatures, which hovered around 14 degrees.
"It's cold right now," said Dusty Reid, park superintendent, "but when the sun comes out it will be a beautiful day."
As in previous years, Cassville Area Chamber of Commerce members and volunteers delivered coffee to anglers gathered near the stream.
"I have five layers of clothes on, and it is still kind of cold," said Charlie Seymour, who helped his mother, Angela, deliver coffee to dozens of fishermen.
"This year, over 20 members and volunteers distributed 800 souvenir cups of coffee to fishermen," said Amy White, chamber executive director.
Many opening day participants visited the chamber tent for coffee refills. Dozens of glazed donuts, which were donated by the Cassville United Methodist Church, were also distributed to anglers.
"The coffee was donated by Walmart, and the propane for the cookers was donated by Sportsman's Corner," said White.
Souvenir cups were sponsored by the Cassville Democrat, Crowder College Cassville Center, Les Jacobs Ford-Mercury, Inc., Oak Hill Court & RV Park, Rock Village Court & RV Park, Jim Rogers, Roaring River State Park, Tim's Fly Shop, Runnels Chiropractic, Hutchens Construction, Sports World-AAA Trophies and Baywash Carwash.
A few minutes before daybreak, Roaring River State Park staff members escorted Junior and Clarice Stephens, of Olathe, Kan., to the bridge near the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Lodge. The Stephens, who are dedicated Kids' Fishing Day volunteers, received the first and second trout tags of the 2009 season and were invited to shoot the gun during opening ceremonies.
The couple was joined by Marilyn Russman, Missouri Department of Conservation Committee vice president, who was invited to fire a second honorary shot to mark the start of the fishing season at Roaring River.
Within minutes after the opening shots were fired, several anglers reeled in lunkers from the Roaring River stream. Dexter Grayson, of Norman, Okla., landed a 6.1-pound trout before 7:30 a.m.
"It took me five or 10 minutes to reel him in," said Grayson, who has participated in five season openers. "We camped here last night. It was really fun. We have a pot riding on who catches the biggest fish. It's up to $80 right now. I hope this is the one."
Kevin Gibson, of Olathe, Kan., landed a 8.95-pound lunker.
"This is the third opening day I've been to, but it's the first big fish I've caught here," said Gibson.
Although her fish wasn't a lunker, Sharayah Seymour, of Cassville, also experienced a successful opening day. After spending the summer participating in catch-and-release fishing at Roaring River with her family, Sharayah landed her first fish on Sunday.
Cassville High School sophomore Stephane Oden attended her second opening day this year and was the first one in her party to catch four fish.
"I've already caught my limit," said Oden. "Last year, I was part of the no fish club."
Brad Rich, of Joplin, also caught his limit by 8 a.m. on March 1. This was his first trip to Roaring River for opening day. He fished with his mother-in-law and father-in-law, who have been visiting the park on March 1 for over 30 years.
Members of the Barry County Drug Court weighed 42 lunkers at the Cassville Area Chamber of Commerce weigh-in station. The chamber recognized the anglers who caught the biggest fish in men's, women's and youth's divisions.
Ben Curry, of Rogers, Ark., won the men's division with a 10.1-pound trout. Rose Thomas, of Bella Vista, Ark., reeled in a 4.2-pound trout that topped the women's division, and Vanessa Glaze, of Seligman, won the youth division with a 4.2-pound trout. Each winner received a trophy from the chamber.