Roaring River Trout Fishing

Cassville, Missouri

Featured photo by Jimmy Jacobs

On The Fly Freshwater

by Polly Dean

June 2021

“That’s a good trout.”

I heard those words coming from the high bank on the far side of the river as I battled a fish that did not want to come to my net. The bystander who spoke them stood atop that bluff, watching the trout zig-zag across the current. When I netted the fish, he added more congratulations for what turned out to be a 17-inch rainbow. This kind of scene is not unusual at Roaring River State Park.

The author with her 17-inch rainbow from Roaring River Trout Park. Photo by Jimmy Jacobs.

Roaring River State Park is one of Missouri’s four trout parks. These trout parks can be covered with fishermen at certain times of the year, but with 4 miles of trout water at Roaring River and sections that are fly-fishing and catch-and-release only, getting away from other anglers is not a problem for fly casters.

Photo by Jimmy Jacobs.

What struck me and I enjoyed immensely witnessing, is that these parks are hugely popular with families. I saw mothers and fathers fishing with youngsters of all ages. I even saw tiny toddlers on mothers’ laps holding small fishing rods. I cannot imagine the number of anglers – young and old – that very likely caught their first fish at one of these trout parks, and how many of them became anglers hooked on the sport for the remainder of their lives.

The stretch of river in the state park is divided into three zones with unique bait or lure and creel restrictions. I would describe the water as medium-sized, maybe averaging 20- to 30-feet in width. Issuing from a cave in the park, the water runs crystal clear and cold, first passing through a trout hatchery, then coursing down through the park. There is plenty of room for casting without interference from overhanging trees or obstruction. Here’s and overview of the three zones.

Zone 1

From the hatchery to the sign at Dry Hollow Creek, only artificial lures, soft plastics and flies are allowed. Flies must be constructed on a single point hook.

Zone 2

This is the area of most interest to fly fishermen and the only zone where wading is allowed. From the sign at Dry Hollow Creek to the old dam at the lower end of Campground 3, only flies are permitted. There is an area within this zone that’s designated as catch-and-release only. Here trout may not be possessed and must be returned the water unharmed immediately. This portion is also a multi-use area where swimming is allowed. Zone 2 tends to be less crowded with anglers, especially the catch-and-release area, so it is more popular with fly casters.

Photo by Jimmy Jacobs.

This was the area where my fishing partner and I decided to spend our time during out late fall visit to the river. We had a productive day, including the 17-inch rainbow mentioned early being the largest fish. We also caught a number of smaller ‘bows on various dry and sinking flies, though a Blue-Winged Olive Parachute was the most dependable. It was great fun, especially with the added bonus of knowing that we had a decent chance of catching a big trout.

Fly casting in Zone 2. Photo by Jimmy Jacobs.

While witnessing first-timers finding success here at Roaring River, I saw three young men in their 20s or 30s that were fly fishing. I was drawn to them as one was fighting a large trout, which turned out to be around 20 inches or more in length. With the coaching of his buddies, he successfully landed the fish. I overheard the young men congratulating the successful angler on his first fish on a fly! I couldn’t help but think that this was a young guy that was probably hooked for life on fly-fishing, even though this memorable fish could very likely be his personal best trout for his lifetime. Nonetheless, it was a pleasure to see this happy moment in these young men’s lives.

Zone 3

From the old dam to the park boundary, any type of bait or gear is can be used. At times there were sections where anglers seemed to be shoulder to shoulder, but in these areas there were often men, women and lots of children that were enjoying the sport of fishing and would probably continue to do so for a lifetime.

Zone 3 is very popular with families for fishing. Photo by Jimmy Jacobs.

I was impressed by the idea of Missouri’s Trout Parks and could only imagine how many anglers develop their love of the sport at one of these facilities. They also likely continue to purchase licenses, support the fisheries and pursue their passion of sport fishing for years to come. The Show Me State has the right idea with the Trout Parks!

An average-sized rainbow from Roaring River Trout Park. Photo by Polly Dean.

Trout parks offer high-quality trout fishing on cold-water streams in the state. Each is supported by an on-site trout hatchery, and stockings are done daily during designated months of the year. In addition to a fishing license, anglers must purchase a daily trout tag in the parks. Tags are $3 for adults and $2 for those 15 and younger.

There are a few general regulations that apply to the entire stretch of water. Felt soles or any other porous material are not allowed on your wading boots. Each angler must display the daily trout tag purchased in the area and bearing his or her signature. Trout fishing is in accordance with statewide regulations from March 1 through October 3. During the winter catch-and-release season from the second Friday in November to the second Monday in February, fishing is allowed on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday only. Each angler must keep their trout separate and the daily limit is four trout. Brown trout must be 15-inches or greater. There is no length limit on rainbows. No fish may be in possession in the catch-and-release area.

Tim’s Fly Shop

Located just two minutes from the Roaring River State Park entrance, Tim’s Fly Shop can provide all one needs, whether it is flies, gear or the knowledge that comes from fishing Roaring River for more than 30 years. Owner Tim Homesley has spent nearly 300 days a year fishing the river for well over two decades. In addition to his own knowledge, he also has three guides that work out of the shop.

Photo by Jimmy Jacobs.

Tim’s Fly Shop has a broad selection of hand-tied flies, including all the patterns needed for local waters. In addition to his guide service, they always have the most up-to-the-minute information and what is working right now! If you or someone you know needs fly-fishing instruction, they are happy to provide that as well. And you can even take advantage of their free WiFi.

Photo by Jimmy Jacobs.

Brands they sell are Cortland, Orvis, Winston, Fenwick, and Echo in rods. In reels they carry Ross, Orvis, Galvan, Cortland and Martin. For the fly tyers, they offer an array of materials.

See their website for tips and tactics on fishing at Roaring River State Park.  

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