Day Trip: An anglers dream at Roaring River State Park
About eight miles south of Cassville, Missouri is a state park that is world renowned for trophy trout fishing. Roaring River State Park sits on 4200 acres in Barry County, and is administered by the Missouri State Park system. In 1928, Thomas Sayman, a St. Louis businessman, bought 2,400 acres surrounding the river and, within a month, donated the land to the state. Many of the park's existing facilities were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s, including some of the buildings that make up Camp Smokey, the park's organized group camp.
With easy access to the Roaring River, anglers of any age or physical ability can fish here. An average of 20 million gallons of water rush from the spring daily, spilling into a clear blue spring pool below the cliff in the Roaring River Spring. Roaring River is stocked regularly by the park’s hatchery, managed by the Missouri Department of Conservation.
The park store sells everything one needs to fish for trout, including licenses, daily trout tags, tackle, bait, and camping supplies. It’s located in the Emory Melton Inn, near the park entrance. Waders can be rented at park stores if you choose to take a stroll in the stream for your fishing enjoyment.
Baiting trout varies greatly, the favorite for our family has always been a can of corn. A very small treble hook helps hold corn kernels on, loading one kernel on each treble tip. Salmon eggs, another favorite trout bait, is secured on the hook the same way. Crappie rod and reels work well for the usual size trout caught at the park. Lunkers occasionally swimming by would require a bigger pole.
*There are some rules that one needs to follow when fishing in a trout park:
Trout fishing is permitted in accordance with the state wildlife code and posted restrictions daily from March 1 through Oct. 31, and during the winter catch-and-release season from the second Friday in November to the second Monday in February on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday only.
Each angler shall display a daily trout tag purchased on the area and bearing his or her signature.
Each angler shall have a state fishing permit except those 15 years and younger or Missouri residents 65 years and older.
Each angler shall keep their trout separate at all times and identified with their name and address. Daily limit is four, all brown trout must be equal to or greater than 15”. There is no length limit on rainbow trout. Possession limit is 8 trout.
Only a single pole or rod may be used. Gigging, snaring or snagging is not permitted.
No person shall continue to fish for any species in these trout waters after having four trout in possession.
The use of game fish or parts thereof for bait is prohibited; chumming is not permitted.
No trout may be possessed in the catch-and-release area.
At the Emory Melton Inn and Conference Center, hosts Jim and Carmen Rogers help make your visit more enjoyable. They run the store, inn, and restaurant, as well as the lodge rooms, cabins, and campground. The inn offers guest rooms, some with kitchenettes, and others with a view of the river below. The park also offers single cabins, duplex and fourplex units. Rooms and cabins are available March through October. Reservations are required.
Visitors are far from off grid here as Wifi is available in the lobby and meeting rooms of the inn, and an onsite restaurant makes feeding the family easy. It’s a welcome comfort after a long day of fishing or hiking. The Roaring River Restaurant is open 7 days a week, from 8am to 8pm. Sitting by the window for the magnificent view of the park is highly recommended, as service can be a little slow. The menu is a throwback to the 50s, but food is good, reasonably priced homestyle fare. Of course, trout is on the menu, as well as a nice chicken fried steak. The menu features a fresh catch special for those that actually catch their own. For $7.99 they will bake or fry your cleaned, fresh caught trout, give you soup or salad, two sides and a roll. The rustic lodge setting and the view of the Roaring River Valley makes it worth a visit. Breakfast is a busy affair, but service is a little quicker in the morning, The skillet potatoes are excellent. There are other offerings nearby, as the inn’s restaurant does not offer alcohol. Geraldi’s Italian Restaurant at 397 Sale Barn Road, Cassville, has homemade pizza, pasta, and salads, tiramisu, and cannolis. Wine is served at Geraldi’s. Hungry Hollow Brewery at 14396 Farm Road 2140 serves self described “hillbilly” beer crafted on wood fire and steam, prompting them to be recently featured in Feast Magazine. The Farmer’s Daughter; An Ozark Eatery specializes in farm to table eats, but has the most extensive offering of spirits of any Cassville restaurant, including locally crafted drinks. If hiking is more to your liking, there are seven different trails to explore at Roaring River State Park.
*Deer Leap Trail leads to an overlook and boardwalk above the fish hatchery and the spring at the head of Roaring River. From the overlook, it is easy to see the axle shaft from an undershot waterwheel that powered a gristmill in the mid-19th century. The Civilian Conservation Corps built the trail in the 1930s after harvesting the rocks used for the steps from the park.
Devil’s Kitchen Trail has a name which is derived from an odd rock outcrop that formed a roomlike enclosure. According to legend, this room, which has since collapsed, was used as a hideout by Civil War guerrillas. A self-guided interpretive brochure for this trail is available at the nature center and the park office. In addition to the Devil’s Kitchen, the interpretive trail provides information on other geologic features such as caves and different landscapes and plants visitors will find along the trail.
The Ozark Chinquapin Nature Center exhibits interpretive displays that inform visitors on the park's natural history. Park naturalists present nature programs, slide shows and conduct nature hikes.
Roaring River State Park is located at 12716 Farm Road 2339, Cassville, Missouri 65625 It can be found online at www.roaringriverstatepark.org