2,600 expected for Opening Day
Roaring River Hatchery to stock 8,000 trout
Roaring River State Park is expected to see about 2,600 visitors on Sunday, as 2015 Opening Day ceremonies will kick off the catch-and-keep season at the park.
Paul Spurgeon, manager of the Roaring River Trout Hatchery, which is overseen by the Missouri Department of Conservation, said his crews will stock about 8,000 trout and 50 lunkers, which are trout over three pounds, for the incoming anglers.
"We've got the fish up to 12-1/2 inches and they'll be every bit of that if not 13 inches," he said. "We've also went over the stream cleaning out holes and dams and removing debris from previous floods last fall. We've also done there regular maintenance of signs and infrastructure."
The last Sunday Opening Day was a snowy one on March 1, 2009, when the Department of Conservation sold 1,834 fishing tags by the gunshot, 1,547 for adults and 287 for children.
Last year, on a mildly chilly Saturday Opening Day, the park sold 1,974 tags by the gunshot. Spurgeon said 1,615 adults and 359 children purchased trout tags on Opening Day, leading to $5,563 in daily trout tag revenue, which was $1,017 more than Opening Day tag revenues in 2013. Spurgeon said numbers fell a bit short of expectations, likely due to a storm system that rolled into the park late Saturday and on Sunday.
Kerry Hays, manager of Roaring River State Park, said his staff has been busy all offseason preparing for the big day.
"Staff has been busy during the offseason working to improve the experience for our guests," he said. "Currently, we're in the process of checking all the electrical pedestal in the campgrounds, filling potholes, and de-winterizing the cabins in the park."
As it does every year, the Cassville Area Chamber of Commerce will greet anglers with fresh coffee, and it has 850 commemorative mugs to give away this year.
Mindi Artherton, director of the Chamber, said coffee will be served from 5-6:30 a.m. at the Les Jacobs Ford tent, across from the CCC Lodge.
"We usually do 750 mugs, but will do 850 this year because a Sunday Opening Day may bring more visitors to the park," she said. "We can also use some more volunteers to serve the coffee."
Those interested in volunteering may contact Artherton at 417-847-2814.
The Chamber will also sponsor a biggest catch contest, with men's, women's and children's divisions. A volunteer will be on hand to weigh fish at the CCC Lodge from 6:30 a.m. until noon. Men's and women's division winners will receive Cassville Cash, redeemable at any Chamber-member business in the city. The children's division winner will receive a trophy.
Spurgeon said along with raising the trout to stock the river, the Hatchery has been completing other projects to improve operations.
The hatchery's pump was replaced over the winter, and Spurgeon said work is about 95 percent complete.
"We have some wiring that still needs to be done, but it's operational," he said. "The pump now has two intakes and woks on a variable frequency driver, which will help us save some money on electricity and be more efficient.
"We can now dial in as much as 400 to 4,000 gallons per minute, and we can recirculate 5 million gallons per day if we need to. All this will help us to raise fish in times of drought."
Hays said along with Opening Day festivities, there are a variety of special events at the park throughout the fishing season.
"Wildflower hikes will be offered on April 11 and May 3," he said. "Kids' Fishing Day will be held on May 16 and August 15. June 6 will be a busy day in the park with free fishing, a guided hike in observance of National Trails Day and a Heritage Folk Festival that will be feature a variety of performers."
Other than special events, Hays said those not as interested in fishing also have options for enjoying the area.
"Roaring River State Park provides excellent opportunities for camping, hiking and simply being part of the great outdoors," he said. "Interpretive programs providing information on everything from eagles to spiders are also scheduled regularly during the season."
For more information about the park, people may visit www.mostateparks.com/park/roaring-river-state-park.