The Roaring River State Park staff is preparing to welcome around 2,500 anglers on March 1. Over the last few months, several park improvements have been completed in anticipation of the 2010 trout season opener.
"The stream should be in good shape for fishing by opening day," said Jerry Dean, Roaring River Hatchery manager. "Crews have been busy this winter removing excess gravel that moved into the stream due to the flooding we had last season.
"Gravel removal in the stream will be completed before opening day," said Dean. "Water weeds will also be cut from the stream during February."
Many park structures and facilities have been repaired in preparation for the 2010 season. An on-line campground registration system, which will allow park staff members to rent out reservable sites to campers when they arrive at the park, was also added at the park office.
The new Roaring River State Park store, which is located at the intersection of Highway 112 and F, was completed toward the end of the 2009 trout fishing season.
The 5,160-square-foot building offers an assortment of bait, tackle and fishing equipment as well as a variety of souvenirs and collectable items. Anglers can also purchase daily trout tags and fishing licenses at the store.
"It is so much easier for people to get to," said Jim Rogers, Roaring River State Park concessionaire. "The campers are able to walk over instead of driving, and the people staying at the (Emory Melton) Inn are able to come down and shop at the store. People seem to really enjoy it."
The new store offers around 30 parking spots, which significantly increased the amount of parking available when compared to the old store that was located in the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Lodge.
Park officials have worked with the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) to create crosswalks near the new store to improve pedestrian safety in the area. Banners will be placed throughout the park to remind visitors that trout fishing tags must be purchased at the new store.
Fishermen can begin purchasing 2010 trout fishing tags at 9 a.m. on Feb. 28. The store will remain open all night. The Roaring River Restaurant will open at noon on Sunday.
All lodging units at Roaring River have been reserved in advance. Park officials also expect the first-come, first-serve campsites to be full on March 1.
"We have all of our barrels filled with kindling and firewood in case it is very cold on opening day," said Dusty Reid, park superintendent. "It is always nice to have the campers back in the park. It is nice to smell the smoke of the campfires and see people catching fish and enjoying themselves."
Cool temperatures are expected for opening day, and members of the Cassville Area Chamber of Commerce will keep with tradition by serving hot coffee on the banks of Roaring River beginning at 5 a.m. on Monday. Coffee will be served until the starting gun is fired at 6:30 a.m.
This year, coffee cups are being sponsored by: Cassville Democrat; Baywash Carwash; Crowder College Cassville Campus; Deer Run Cabins; Freedom Bank; Jim Rogers and Roaring River State Park Concessions; Ken's Collision Center; Les Jacobs Ford-Mercury; Oak Hill Court and RV Park; Rock Village Court; Runnels Chiropractic; Security Bank of Southwest Missouri; and Tim's Fly Shop.
The chamber will also present Cassville Cash prize money to the men and women who land the largest fish. A trophy will be awarded to the youth who reels in the largest trout.
Fish must be weighed at the chamber's weigh-in station, which will be located on the lower level of the CCC Lodge. Awards will be given out at noon in front of the CCC Lodge.
"Previous Monday opening days were in 2004 with 2,438 anglers and in 1999 with 2,471 anglers," said Dean. "There were 2,000 fish stocked for the winter catch-and-release season. We plan to add an additional 6,100 12-inch fish to the stream before opening day."
The combined number of trout will give each angler visiting the park an opportunity to catch at least three fish. In addition, over 50 lunkers, fish that weigh over three pounds, will be added to the stream for opening day festivities.