Bob Mitchell: Don't miss opening day

Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Bob Mitchell Ozark Views & Comments

Whether you are a native, longtime resident or newcomer, make it a point to get up early next Sunday and be one of those stream-side in Roaring River Hollow for the 2015 opening of Rainbow Trout Season.

There will be plenty of time after the opening excitement of the event for you to go back home and change out of the layers of clothing required by the normally cold conditions to your church attire.

With the opening day coming on a Sunday, there is a possibility of a record number of folks buying the required fishing tags and then standing elbow-to-elbow up and down the stream in hopes of landing a prize-winning trout.

One former resident, the late Earl Hutchens, caused quite a situation several years ago when the jokester paraded up and down the stream with a very large fish, nearly dragging the tail off, claiming he was to get the prize for the largest fish caught.

The joke attracted considerable attention until game agents approached him for presenting his daily tag, which he did not possess. This ended his joke when he had to show them his receipt from Crystal Springs Trout Farm in Cassville, where he had purchased the lunker that was a brood fish.

He later responded to questions concerning what happened to the fish and his response was "For what this fish cost by the pound, you can bet Deloris (his wife) was going to cook it."

First of spring

In addition to the opening of the park and all it provides when March 1 comes around, many in this area consider this time as virtually the arrival of spring. Although weather conditions can be rather winter-like, spring is actually only 19 days away.

Road trip

Our our road trip to Mississippi, we looked for warm weather, unsuccessfully. But the Gulf Coast did provide some change of scenery and a chance to be with some friends who are located in the Gulfport-Biloxi area.

We were actually in Long Beach, Miss., just a few miles west off the Highway 49-90 intersection. The Town House we rented was just across the highway from a beautiful sand beach that we never enjoyed due to the cold temperatures.

Those weather readings weren't anything like those on the day or our departure -- 12 degrees and snowing. We didn't see the sun that day until we got southwest of West Plains, where the temperature jumped to 25 degrees. The frigid readings stayed with us to the Isle of Capri, just across the Big River east of Helena, Ark.

We discovered in this area where all the rain went that we had missed. South of Jackson, Miss., all the rivers were bank full and had been out over the countryside in many places.

This route brought us through the Arkansas and Mississippi rice country, providing some good views at many sites of large flocks of geese coming in to feed in the afternoon. As they came in to land adjacent to the highway, it appeared for a while the large birds were going to impede our route. A cold front caught up with us in this area, possibly the one that came through Barry County, and it was uncomfortable to refuel without a heavy jacket and gloves.

Warmed

No need for a jacket upon our arrival in Gulfport, but it was a different story two days later when the wind switched from the north and temperatures dropped to 19 degrees. This meant that all flowers that were in bloom were now covered for most of the duration of our trip.

Also gone from the scene, which were observed in previous visits, were many of the old homes and estates. In some of their places were replacement homes, all on stilts of timbers or concrete. I must say these are not nearly as attractive as those that Katrina had destroyed in 2008.

The hurricane did make a lot of real estate available, with the only priced lot at $150,000. We presumed a lot of others were even more expensive.

An experience

Ron and Mary Belle McGrath of Monett, who are wintering in Gulfport, invited us to go to church with them. Mary Belle picked the congregation we would visit. It was a Black Baptist Church with a two-year-old auditorium. It was a circular style, quite impressive in the furnishing.

There was no doubt about the hospitality from those who greeted us. One distinguished gentleman in a pinstripe suit and long coat was especially interested in seating us well. He said he enjoyed my firm handshake.

The service began at 11 a.m. with praise hymns and choir numbers. The music was long, and the young lady on the organ must have been an instructor. The young drummer, who must have been 11 or 12 years old, followed her signals well.

At 12:15 p.m., the collection process followed, after which we excused ourselves for another event. I meant to get back for the preaching later, but didn't.

To be continued.

Bob Mitchell is the former editor and publisher of the Cassville Democrat.