Opening Day impacted by snow storm
March 4, 2015
Sunday morning proved to be a great day for fishing for those that braved the unfortunate winter storm that blew in Saturday. Even with the heavy snowfall, which only added to the beauty of the park, the trout were hungry and, before the rounds were emptied from the gun shot by Tim Homesley to signal the beginning of Opening Day, people were pulling fish out of the water left and right.
Initially, Roaring River anticipated 2,600 to 2,700 anglers to beckon in the beginning of trout season, an honorable holiday for locals. However, by the end of the day, only 1,185 tags were sold at the park, less than half of the planned for turnout. There were 189 youth tags and 996 adult tags for the day. Hatchery staff stocked the waters with 8,000 rainbow trout in the week leading up to Opening Day, and those that showed their dedication to the sport walked away with a good haul.
This marks the second year in a row that the Opening Day crowd was tempered by winter storms. Last year, tag sales were 1,974 on a Saturday which was low for a weekend. They anticipated 2,600 fishermen last year, as well. The last time Opening Day fell on a Sunday was 2008 and tag sales were 2,147.
This year, Roaring River was supposed to have special visitors to the park with a filming crew for the Outdoor Channel show Stihl Reel in the Outdoors with Joe Thomas planning to film at the park on Opening Day, as well as going fishing on Table Rock Lake. However, the film crew was unable to make it to the park due to the snow. Missouri State Parks Division Information Officer Steph Deidrick said that they are in talks with the show to come back for the spring Kids Fishing Day instead.
Despite the snow, Missouri State Parks director Bill Bryan was in attendance on Sunday and had nothing but positive things to say about Roaring River and the staff. “The family atmosphere and support from the Cassville community is remarkable. They have the same event at other parks, but this is a different feel. With the Chamber passing out coffee and welcoming everyone to the community, it is just special.”
Bryan wasn’t at the park last year, but spent time at Roaring River staying in the cabins with his family as a child. He noted, “You see more kids at Opening Day here, it’s practically a holiday in Cassville.”
When asked what the biggest challenges were with Opening Day and the snow storm, Bryan said, “The biggest challenge was getting people to the park. MoDOT has been a great friend to get the roads clear, and park staff was working around the clock.” Bryan noted, “The park staff started clearing since Friday and has been working constantly ever since. I’d be surprised if Kerry Hays and his staff have gotten much sleep.”
Roaring River State Park Natural Resource Manager Kerry Hays stated, “There were four full-time staff members that worked throughout the day on Saturday to clear the snow on the major walkways. We were also assisted by the volunteer camp hosts who pitched in to help, and staff at the inn and the store.”
Hays added, “Staff worked hard throughout the day to minimize the travel impact within the park for our guests. A great deal of credit needs to go to the staff of the Missouri Department of Transportation who worked to make sure the major roads of the park were cleared for the event.”
Bryan also invited Executive Director of National Association of State Park Directors Lewis Ledford to join the Opening Day festivities. Ledford said, “The way the state game and fish agencies, local government and Chamber come together to make such a great event is incredible. To see the tradition is amazing.”
Even with the lower numbers, people still reeled in big catches. The Cassville Area of Chamber offered up $50 Cassville Cash to the men’s and women’s division winners of the largest trout. Jeff Greer, of Joplin, caught a lunker weighing 8.12 pounds. Second place honors in the men’s division went to Jason Rosenbaum, of Carlisle, Iowa, with a 7.34 fish. Local Vanessa Glaze, 16, of Washburn, was the women’s division winner with a 3.12 lbs. trout.
When asked about how the staff worked to make the day a success, Hays stated, “We’re very proud of the work that park staff did over the weekend to clear the snow and ice so that our guests could safely enjoy the beauty of the park.”