Park preps free fishing weekend; Limits, zone regulations apply

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

By Melonie Roberts

Cassville Democrat

Roaring River State Park will be participating in the Missouri Department of Conservation's annual free fishing weekend set for 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday.

This weekend allows members of the public to fish for trout at the park free, without a permit or tags. A Missouri resident fishing permit costs $19, and daily trout tags cost $3 each for adults and $2 for youth 15 years of age and younger. The event is free at all Missouri State parks.

"This event introduces people to fishing," said Paul Spurgeon, hatchery manager at Roaring River State Park. "It is also a way to thank the people who have been fishing with us all these years."

While the event is free, all limits and zone rules still apply. Information is posted throughout the park and is also available in pamphlet form at the store.

"We will stock the fishing areas with about 2,000 fish each night," Spurgeon said. "There will be some lunkers in there. There are always lunkers in the river."

Spurgeon said the event typically attracts over 1,000 people per day.

"It won't be terribly crowded," he said. "People will have to bring their own fishing equipment."

For those less inclined to fish, there are seven hiking trails and activities taking place at the Nature Center throughout the weekend as well.

The Chinquapin Nature Center offers interpretive displays of the park's natural history, including animal and nature exhibits. The nature center sells a variety of books, guides and Roaring River souvenirs, and also has a few live animals on display. The Nature Center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The park will also be sponsoring an event called "Trek to the Tower" in observance of National Trails Day, on Saturday. Participants will meet at the Ozark Chinquapin Nature Center, beginning at 8 a.m. to begin their trek on the Firetower Trail in the park. Guests will have the opportunity enjoy a visit to the fire tower and the chance to hike through several different types of natural areas. Participants are asked to take a pack with water and snacks, a camera and a hiking stick to get the most out of this event.

A handful of campsites remain available, but are going quickly.

"Campsite reservations for Roaring River State Park can be made six months prior to arrival at the park," said Kerry Hays, park superintendent. "Currently, there are a handful of non-electric reserve sites that are still available in Campground No. 3 for that weekend. In addition, the park has a little over 35 first-come, first serve campsites. During the summer, these sites tend to fill up quickly as the week progresses."

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