Gov. Nixon casts a line at Roaring River’s Opening Day
March 2, 2016
This year’s Opening Day of trout season at Roaring River State Park was marked by the opening shot fired by Governor Jay Nixon. The 6:30 a.m. opening was unseasonably warm and a touch rainy.
Gov. Nixon took the opportunity to visit Roaring River for the first time to fish in a long time. As he approached the pavilion to open the day, he said, “Let’s get the official duties done so I can go fishing.” He took his pole to the waters with Missouri State Parks director Bill Bryan just after the season commenced.
Nixon joined over 1,500 other fishermen that day. While the Missouri Conservation Department planned for 2,000 tags on Opening Day, they came in shy with 1,578, still a decent number for a Tuesday. Paul Spurgeon, Roaring River Hatchery manager, said they stocked 6,000 fish for March 1 with 100 of those lunkers.
While the weather was warm for the start of trout season, the light rain meant that many fishermen sat in their vehicles until right before 6:30 a.m. Most of the tags sold were to the early birds. Over 1,400 tags were sold before 11 a.m., meaning the afternoon was fairly sparse in terms of anglers.
Gov. Nixon said that it was important for him to come to Roaring River this year in memory of Senator Emory Melton. He said, “This year, with the passing of Senator Melton, it’s just a good time to be here to remember a fellow that really made a difference. At the Melton Lodge last night you could feel how one or two people had really put their shoulder to the wheel to make a difference, and he was a great leader not only to this park, but for all parks across the state.”
Nixon also said he had memories of coming to Roaring River with his father as a kid. After fishing Monotauk and Bennett Springs, they camped at Roaring River in the heat of August to catch trout at the third trout park. “We were really impressed by the beauty,” he said.
Nixon also talked about the importance of the trout parks to tourism in the state. He said that was a big part of why the flood damage mitigation had to happen quickly and efficiently. “We had to get these parks back open for people.”
“We’re really excited about the turn out. State Parks has done a really good job. We set a record attendance last year. The trout parks are the real muscle of the tourism side of this,” Nixon stated.
He added, “It’s a rite of passage of the beginning of spring across the state, and all across the state, whether people have the time to come here or not, they’re getting up today listening to the radio or reading these stories, and they’ll plan their vacations this summer with their kids and grandkids. We’re one of the few states in the country that has more kids hunting and more kids fishing, expanding our park system.
“This is 100 years of the National Parks, so they’re trying to do a free day in the park for fourth graders across the country, and I said we have 365 of those this year and in fact this year, we have 366 of them with Leap Day on the 29th. We’ve made our parks open and accessible.”