Kids' Fishing Day kicks off summer angling season

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Hatchery spawns thousands of pint-sized fishermen since 1981

Roaring River State Park and Fish Hatchery will be the place for kids to be on Saturday, as the area is hosting the 36th annual Kids' Fishing Day.

The popular event, which began in 1981, gives children the opportunity to learn how to fish, and learn about the natural world around them in a variety of seminars geared for children, in the serene setting of the historic park.

Outdoor survival classes, a snake class, a 'How-to-fish Roaring River' class, cooking classes, and the Missouri Stream Team will be available to teach children about the wonder of the great outdoors, along with lessons on practical skills such as safety and survival. Arts and crafts will also be available.

The event will start bright and early from 6:30 a.m. to 8:15 p.m. Tags can be picked up the day before the event, or the day of.

There is no charge for the event or fishing tags, and lunch is free. Bluegrass music will be on hand to entertain visitors from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Last year, more than 1,000 children registered to fish for the event, according to Paul Spurgeon, hatchery manager for the Missouri Department of Conservation.

He expects to have at least as many children attend as last year, as the park has been very busy.

"It's been pretty steady the last couple of years, and our tag numbers are up," he said. "We've had the best April in trout tag sales than in the last 15 years. A lot of it I think is the lower gas prices."

Spurgeon said Kids' Fishing Day had humble beginnings, and was started by hatchery employees.

"It started as a small event," he said. "The central office sent out a notice saying we needed to have a fishing day for kids, and it amounted to roping off a small area and throwing some extra fish in there for the kids. I think we had a little over 100 kids the first year.

"The thing that really makes it neat is that it was the hatchery that took that little program and grew it to what it is today, and the community and fishermen all joined in to make the event as big as it is. So we're pretty proud of the fact that it came from the hatchery people itself. It was kind of an angler recruitment thing to get the kids fishing."

Spurgeon said the event draws visitors from all over including Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas and Kansas.

The river will be stocked with about 3,000 rainbow trout for children of all ages to catch, and fishing stations will be available for the pint-sized fishers to get hooks and bait.

"We'll be stocking the river several times throughout the day to make sure there's good fish in there for the kids to catch," he said. "They're the same size fish we stock for adults."

Spurgeon threw out a little bait for the children.

"If they attend at least three seminars to learn, they will be entered into a drawing for fishing poles and other door prizes," he said.

The drawing will be held at 5 p.m.

"We have all kinds of great prizes to give away," he said. "It's going to be a great time for the kids to get out with their families and spend the day. We encourage everyone to come out."

For additional information, people may call 417-847-2430.

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