Opening Day to reel in anglers Sunday
February 25, 2015
This coming Sunday marks one of the most anticipated days of the year for Barry County, Opening Day. Each year, young and old come from all over to celebrate the opening of trout season with a visit to the beautiful Roaring River State Park.
Roaring River is preparing for an influx of 2,500 to 2,600 anglers for trout season’s Opening Day this Sunday, according to hatchery manager Paul Spurgeon. Last year’s Opening Day fell on a Saturday, but they only had a turn out of around 1,900 due to a big snow storm. This year, Spurgeon says he anticipates better numbers.
Spurgeon stated, “Gas is a lot cheaper this year, and if the weather is halfway decent, we expect a lot more. We think the weather kept a lot of people away last year.” If the campsite bookings are any indication, Spurgeon is right. Almost all of the lodging options at the park are booked for opening weekend.
The hatchery staff is busy spending the week stocking the waters at Roaring River with 8,000 trout, including 100 lunkers that weigh between three and six pounds. Each year, the number of fish stocked depends on figures calculated by hatchery records from previous years.
The Cassville Area Chamber of Commerce will hand out $50 Cassville cash to those who catch the largest trout in the men’s and women’s divisions. The winner of the youth division (12 and under) will receive a trophy. Chamber volunteers will also be on site handing out 850 mugs of free coffee.
Each year on Opening Day, the season opens with the shooting of a gun by a person chosen for their dedication and presence at Roaring River. This year, Tim Homesley, owner of Tim’s Fly Shop, will do the honors.
Homesley has a rich history with Roaring River and was born and raised in the area. Aside from owning and operating Tim’s Fly Shop where he ties flies himself, he also is an avid fisherman and guide. It was the deep roots that Homesley has with fishermen of all ages that makes him the perfect candidate this year.
Homesley said he was surprised that he was chosen for the honor. “I haven’t really given it much thought, but I think it’s cool. I’ve been doing this a long time and I’ve spent a lot of years at the park.” According to Spurgeon, Homesley has fished more than 300 days each year over the last 23 years and has been fishing Roaring River for over 30. He also writes a fishing report. In a statement about their decision, Homesley was described as having “knowledge of the stream and trout population that is invaluable to the Missouri Department of Conservation and untold numbers of park users.”
When Homesley was asked what some of his fondest memories were at Roaring River, he said he has had so many perfect days on the water that it was hard to choose, but he shared a story about fishing with a friend. He said, “One day we were fishing below the park, and my friend was having a lot of trouble. Finally, he caught a huge brown trout on a fly he had tied himself. It was a 12 or 13 pound fish, and we let it go back into the water. That friend passed away, but it is still one of my best days.”
Homesley has taught young and old the ins and outs of fishing the waters over the years. He said, “I wish I knew how any people I’ve taught over the last 30 years, but I’ve got no idea. It’s been a long time.”
He went on, “I remember teaching so many people down here. It’s been so many good memories.”
Homesley will kick off Opening Day by firing the gun at 6:30 a.m. on Sunday, March 1, for a big crowd of those willing to brave the early morning for a chance to catch their limit at Roaring River.
Tags are available at the park store beginning at 9 a.m. on Saturday, February 28, until 7 p.m. on March 1.