1,062 at Kids' Fishing Day
Roaring River gets visit from Outdoor Channel
A total of 1,062 children cast their lines Saturday at Roaring River State Park's Kids' Fishing Day, which saw between 3,000 and 4,000 total visitors, including Outdoor Channel star Joe Thomas.
Paul Spurgeon, manager of the Roaring River Hatchery, said the turnout was strong, but could have been stronger if not for weather moving in late.
"It was pretty crowded all day," he said. "The weather kept some people and campers away later, but it was still busy."
Thomas, who hosts "STIHL Reel in the Outdoors with Joe Thomas," paid a special visit to the park ahead of a filming on Table Rock Lake, and he said he his time could not have been better.
"The park is immaculate," he said. "It's very well-kept, and with STIHL, that's something they always look for, and Roaring River is beautiful."
After filming some of the park, spring and hatchery on Friday, Thomas got his start on the river Saturday at 5:45 a.m. Fifteen minutes later, he experienced the Roaring River opening horn for the first time.
"We saw all the kids getting in position and getting their perfect spots, and when the horn went off, it was amazing," he said. "Everyone was smiling and kids were already pulling fish out.
"It really exceeded my expectations. I've been to over 25 kids' fishing events in my lifetime, and this one was, by far, the best. It was the most action-packed and enthusiastic, and that's the future of the sport."
Thomas said he mingled with children at the event, talked to them and their parents, and took photos in the Outdoor Channel's boat set up near the CCC Lodge.
"When I first got there, I saw kid in knee-high boots and shorts with a monkey backpack and a floppy hat," he said. "And to see a 4-year-old kid so excited about fishing was great."
Thomas said the most interesting part of his visit was meeting people who had traveled from far away and were there.
"We met some people from as far away as Alaska," he said. "They were in the area vacationing and decided to take part in the event. It was also great to see it as an annual family tradition. Some of the people out there spanned multiple generations, with grandpa, dad and kid all fishing together."
Thomas said those children's fishing poles were also the best bet Saturday when it came to snagging a rainbow trout.
"Snoopy and Barbie rods were king, and they were catching some big fish," he said. "One kid caught a 4-5-pounder, and when he held it up, it was almost to his ankles."
Results of the fishing contest results proved Thomas' point, as 2-year-old Kimber Carter of Monett landed a 3.15-pounder to win the girls contest. Hunter Rafferty and Layne Jung tied for the boys contest, each netting 3.80-pounders.
Spurgeon said the contests and classes offered at the event could not have been possible without volunteers.
"We had well over 100 volunteers, and I'd like to thank them for their hard work," he said."
Thomas gave all the credit for his good time to Missouri State Parks and STIHL.
"I want to pat the park service on the back for the job they are doing in trying to grow the sport of fishing," he said. "I'm also proud to work with STIHL, who works with so many parks services. It's a win-win."
Thomas said he also enjoyed the other services at the park, including a night at the Emory Melton Inn and Conference Center Friday night, where he ate dinner Friday an a Saturday breakfast at the restaurant.
"The lodge was just great and we shot some video there and at the park store and the campgrounds," he said. "It was interesting to see a park kept so well, and a big thumbs up on the omelet."