Casting about for a way to enjoy some fresh air and fun with your family? Here’s a reel-y fun – and free! – event you’re sure to fall hook, line, and sinker for: a Kids Free Fishing Day on Saturday, August 19. Don’t let this one get away!

Photo courtesy of Missouri State Parks

By Peg Cameron Gill

If a day of family fishing sounds fun, head to historic Roaring River State Park in Cassville for Roaring River Free Fishing Day

A section of the river from the first low-water crossing up toward the hatchery will be specially designated for young anglers to fish in throughout the day. Adults will not be allowed to fish by themselves in this area. Anglers 15 and younger will be able to get tags from the park store for free the day of the event.

Parents and guardians are welcome to help the children as needed, but only one pole between the helper and the child may be used at any time. Volunteers will be on hand to help out in any way they can. 

Kids have the opportunity to fish all day for free and take part in other nature activities. Throughout the day, a variety of programs and activities will be available to both parents and children, including fish cooking, fly fishing, fish casting, knot tying, watersheds, fly tying, and a hatchery tour.

Photo courtesy of Missouri State Parks

Those 15 and younger can enjoy a free lunch. The park concessionaire will provide a free lunch of hot dogs, chips, and a drink in the lower section of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Lodge. 

Fishing hours are from 7 AM to 8 PM in August. 

This is a joint event held in conjunction with the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC). If you have any questions or concerns, please call the park office (417-847-2539), MDC hatchery (417-847-2430) or park store (417-847-4971).

About Roaring River State Park: 

Early settlers were drawn to the rugged nature of the area in the early 1800s, because of its beauty and the clear reliable streams that powered their mills. But the area was not always peaceful. The hills around Roaring River served as hideouts for Civil War guerrillas and outlaws, and large-scale troop movements traveled the countryside.

After the war, the valley became known as a resort community with cottages dotting the hillsides. By the turn of the century, many wealthy businessmen used the Roaring River area as a retreat. 

Photo courtesy of Missouri State Parks

Dr. Thomas Sayman, a wealthy businessman from St. Louis tried to persuade Missouri’s game and fish commission to buy the property, but the commission was unable to do so, due to lack of funds. So, Sayman purchased 2,400 acres of land surrounding Roaring River Spring and turned it over to the state.

With a deep, narrow valley surrounded by a striking and rugged landscape, Roaring River State Park is one of Missouri’s most popular state parks.

Located in the southwest Ozark hills, Roaring River State Park is one of three state parks stocked with rainbow trout. Eager anglers flock to the park year-round to try and catch their lunker trout.

The park’s scenic setting includes seven hiking trails, picnic tables for a leisurely lunch, and a nature center to learn about the park.

For those wanting to spend the night, the park has many options. The campground has basic, electric, and sewer/electric/water sites. Rustic cabins are scattered throughout the park, or guests may choose a modern room at the Emory Melton Inn and Conference Center. The center also boasts a full-service restaurant.

Read more about Roaring River and six other Missouri State Parks here.

Article originally published in the July/August 2021 issue of Missouri Life.