2,000 expected to converge at Roaring River State Park on Opening Day

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Gov. Nixon scheduled to attend, may fire opening gun

Roaring River State Park will celebrate Opening Day on Tuesday, with Gov. Jay Nixon scheduled to attend and possibly fire the opening gun.

Scott Holste, press secretary for Gov. Nixon, said while it is always subject to change, the Governor is scheduled to kick off trout season at Roaring River State Park.

"My belief is that he would be the one to fire the gun," he said. "[But, I] don't have that 100 percent confirmed."

If Nixon does not fire the gun, members of the MAKO Fly Fishers will be on hand to take the honor. If Nixon does fire the gun, MAKO will be given the shot in 2017.

Paul Spurgeon, manager of the Roaring River Hatchery, which is overseen by the Department of Conservation, said he expects about 2,000 anglers to hit the banks on the big day.

"Being a Tuesday, there will be a little less than if it was on a weekend," he said. "And, of course, it always depends on the weather."

Last year, snow hit on Opening Day for only the third time in 25 years, dropping tag totals to only 1,185, compared to about 1,900 in 2014. The 2014 total was the lowest number in decades at the park, but did make for a fantastic ratio for anglers who braved the elements.

This year, Spurgeon said 6,000 12-1/2-inch trout will be stocked in 33 locations along the river. There will also be 100 lunkers put in for the luckier fishermen to snag.

Spurgeon said to prepare for the day, his staff is continuing to do work repairing damage from a pair of floods last year, one in July and another in December.

"We are doing a lot of stream work," he said. "We're still recovering from the flood and finishing the baffles and banks, and we're not quite there yet. We have some gravel in the river we need to pull out, and some of the dams need work.

"This will all probably continue through March and possibly into April. We were not done cleaning up from the July flood when December hit, but the guys have done an amazing job so far."

Missouri State Parks is also continuing cleanup from the December floods, according to Park Manager Kerry Hays.

"State Parks staff is bringing all of the buildings and campgrounds back to season status, with particular attention given to clearing the debris that was left by the December flood event," he said. "All buildings and campgrounds will be available and up to the high standards of staff by Opening Day. Staff is very excited and looking forward to another great season at the park."

Hays said some campsites are still open, mostly in Campground No. 1, and people may reserve a site by calling 877-422-6766.

Hays said along with the fishing and camping, Roaring River has many other attractions for visitors to enjoy.

"In addition to trout fishing, park guests are encouraged to take advantage of hiking on one of the eight trails found within the park, or visit the Nature Center to learn more about the park and surrounding area," he said. "We encourage guests to take advantage of the wonderful meal opportunities at the restaurant found in the Emory Melton Inn and Conference Center."

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