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story.lead_photo.caption NWA Democrat-Gazette/FLIP PUTTHOFF Kyle Buzzard of Diamond, Mo. works a rainbow trout toward shore Nov. 8 on opening day of catch and release trout fishing season at Roaring River State Park near Cassville, Mo. Fishing is allowed with flies Fridays through Mondays through the second Monday in February.

CASSVILLE, Mo. -- It's not every trout stream where the fish that slip away bring smiles to the faces of fishermen.

Kyle Buzzard had a whopper of a rainbow trout in his hands before the big fish wriggled its way to freedom. That's how fishing is during catch and release season at Roaring River State Park. Every fish goes back into the stream.

Love ‘em, let ‘em go

Anglers may catch and release trout at Roaring River State Park from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. each Friday through Monday through the second Monday in February.

Fishing is with flies only. Hair jigs are considered flies at Roaring River.

A Missouri fishing license and annual trout permit is required for anglers 16 and older.

Source: Staff report

Anglers at the park near Cassville, Mo. may catch and release all the trout they can fool from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday through Monday. The season starts the second Friday in November and runs through the second Monday in February.

Fishing is with flies only, but hair jigs common in crappie fishing are considered flies at Roaring River.

Buzzard, of Diamond, Mo. was bundled up to fish on a 35-degree morning Nov. 9, opening day of the season. Some of the best opening-day fishing in recent memory helped keep anglers warm.

"They're going crazy today," Buzzard hollered, setting another trout free "I had 20 fish by 9 a.m. and that was my 25th."

All up and down the spring-fed stream, it looked like everyone was catching fish. Buzzard lobbed a size 8 olive woolly bugger with his fly rod. Zebra midges and scuds are other favorites in his fly box.

For a 15 minute stretch, Buzzard caught a trout on every cast before fishing slowed. Then only caught a fish every other cast.

"I've only caught two or three little ones. My biggest so far today is 16 inches," he said.

This opening day was exceptional. Fishing isn't always this good, but sometimes it is.

Down the bank, Tom Olsen and Jay Miles were having a field day with the fish. Both are outdoor education teachers at Rogers Heritage High School and were at the park with a bus load of students.

Trout were biting Miles' little jig as if they were playing right field, taking it almost before it hit the water. Roaring River starts at Roaring River Spring (20 million gallons per day flow) and tumbles through the park in pools divided by shoals.

Buzzard fishes at Roaring River a couple of times during the catch and release season. He likes the solitude. Catch and keep season, from March 1 through Oct. 31, is way busier.

"You look up and down this stream and what do you see? You've got maybe two people to a pool or you might have a pool all to yourself," Buzzard said. "Catch and keep season you might have 20 to a pool."

Fishing is with flies only, but anglers may use any type of rod and reel, such as a spin cast outfit. That's what Pat Huels used to cast her brown and yellow hair jig into the clear water.

"I'm here having a good time with my husband and my brother, and it's fun to catch a lot of fish," she said.

The family also visits during catch and keep season. Seeing bald eagles is a bonus anglers get during catch and release time in fall and winter. Huels said she'd seen two eagles in her first hour of fishing.

Upstream at the Missouri Department of Conservation Roaring River Hatchery, M.K. Spurrier, fisheries technician, was happy to hear about the good fishing.

Trout had to be trucked to Roaring River from other state hatcheries because of improvement projects at the Roaring River hatchery. The work hasn't affected fishing.

Before construction started, trout at the Roaring River hatchery were transported to other hatcheries. Then, more than 1,000 were brought back to stock in Roaring River for catch and release season.

"We stock about 1,500 trout just before catch and release starts," he said. "Then we'll stock more periodically. We lose some fish to predators, and they do get handled by anglers."

Average size is 12 ½ inches, Spurrier said. Most years some lunkers over three pounds are stocked, but no lunkers were stocked this year. There could be some placed in the river later in the season, he added.

Twelve-inch rainbow trout, and lots of them, will bring a smile to any fisherman's face.

Sports on 12/04/2018

Print Headline: Free the fighter

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