MAKO Fly Fishers to fire Opening Day gun
Group's chance to kick off fishing season a year in the making
After a year of waiting, the MAKO Fly Fishers, a Joplin-based group of fly fishing enthusiasts, will have the honor of firing the Opening Day gun at Roaring River State Park on March 1.
Originally offered the chance in 2016, but bumped when Gov. Jay Nixon came to the park to fire the gun in his last year in office, MAKO Fly Fishers President Greg Edster said he's excited for the group to have the chance again this year.
"It's really an honor to do that for Opening Day, and it's great recognition for the club," he said. "I am humbled we were even asked. I love the relationship MAKO itself has with the park."
MAKO, which stands for Missouri-Arkansas-Kansas-Oklahoma, has about 50 members from the four-state area, including in Cassville; Neosho; Miami, Okla.; Baxter Springs, Kan.; and Galena, Kan.; as well as multiple Arkansas members.
Edster got involved with the group about 10 years ago, when a rod building class caught his eye.
"I've been fly fishing for about 10 years, and my friends and I would go to Roaring River in the winter catch and release season," he said. "About three or four years ago, they needed someone to be president, and I guess I wasn't there to vote 'no.'"
The club hosts outings at Roaring River twice per year, in April and September, but Edster said members are often at the park more frequently on their own.
"We also work with the park and Department of Conservation for Kids' Fishing Day," he said. "Most of our members fish at Roaring River by themselves on any given week. My wife and I have camped there several times. The park itself is very versatile for fly fishing. Whether you like to bank fish or wade fish, you can do both there.
"I'm also a runner, so I like to wake up and do a 3- or 4-mile run through the park. I also enjoy the people. Everyone is always friendly, and the park staff and [concessions employees] take great care of everyone. But, the best part of the park is — you always catch fish."
Edster said he, the club's two vice presidents, its secretary and its treasurer will attend for sure, and he's hoping as many of the members as possible can make it.
"We are really about educating young people and things like supporting Kids' Fishing Day," Edster said. "We've evolved over the years, especially with different kinds of fly fishing. People think fly fishing is only for trout, but you can fish any species on a fly rod."
MAKO holds meetings on the first Wednesday of every month at the Redings Mill Fire Department in Joplin, and the club hold fly-tying sessions on the third Wednesday of each month at the same location, usually with a speaker of some sort.
Edster said after firing the gun, he is not yet sure if he will cast his line or not.
"I hope to do some fishing, but I have to get back to Joplin for our monthly meeting," he said. "I'm also turning 60 on March 25, so I don't know if I want to buy my license now and fish Opening Day, or wait until my birthday and get my lifetime license. That has been one of the hardest decisions of my life."
For more on the MAKO Fly Fishers, people may visit the club's Facebook page, named "MAKO Fly Fishers."