Sun and Sons: A Day At Roaring River in Missouri
"Hey how about hitting the water Saturday?" my eldest son asked on a phone call earlier in the week. "Any day from now to Monday will work, but Saturday is supposed to be pretty nice."
I thought for a second and replied "That sounds like fun, let's do it. Meet at around 7:30 Saturday morning?"
"Hey you should go buy some new fly fishing stuff with that gift card I gave you for Christmas! Try it out at Roaring River!"
"Sounds good to me! See you there!"
And so we began to get ready for a trip we used to do fairly often when he was younger, several times a year anyway. A trip to Missouri's Roaring River Conservation Area in the southwest part of the state.
Living in southwest Missouri for the better part of my life, I began fishing here over forty years ago (well over). It wasn't until I had returned from Arkansas, living near the famous White River near Cotter (where I learned to truly appreciate trout fishing with a fly rod) that I began to get a bit more serious at chasing after trout. A couple of friends named Tommy and Michael took me down for my first Winter Fish here. During the months of November to February you could fish for trout in a portion of the park in a catch and release format. Few people bothered back then and it wasn't uncommon to get there midmorning and be among the first half dozen on the water. There would be days where we could catch fifty or sixty trout on a flyrod or ultralight spinning tackle, with an occasional trout upwards of six pounds.
And if we weren't fishing we were hiking along the trails or spotting bald eagles among the trees or just watching the massive spring gush forth from the cave at the base of the mountain. Every day was fun back then.
Our eldest son
Fast forward a decade or three. Our eldest son was getting into fishing and I introduced him to fly fishing for trout at Roaring River. On his first day he caught his first trout on a fly rod. He too was hooked. He has continued this passion for the past ten years or so and it was he who set up our latest trip. Our youngest son is about the same age he was when I introduced him to this wonderful sport, I invited him along as well. He was unsure but it didn't take long for him to decide he wanted to go as well.
A trip to a local superstore for outdoor gear and a few purchases later, we were set. A new fly rod (a steal at half price), some new flies, flybox and we were ready for Saturday. Would the often incorrect weatherman be right for a change?
Expected high 60, not bad for an early January day here. Sunny, no wind to speak of and a perfect day to spend fishing. After an easy hour's drive we met our eldest at the park. He lives about an hour the other side of Roaring River, so it was right in the middle of our two locations. Fishing wouldn't begin for about twenty minutes or so, time enough to rig up, choose our flies and pick our locations.
My youngest had only had a few minutes worth of lessons the afternoon before, so he was understandably nervous to begin. Once the horn sounded and he began to actually cast he settled in nicely and by the end of the trip he was casting quite well out to twenty five feet or so. Pretty good improvement if I say so myself (as a proud daddy).
The day was perfect, cool at first but warming up as the morning wore on. Our eldest caught the first trout, a pale Rainbow, probably a female. After a bit we moved downstream to another hole, one I had had good luck in during past trips.
His first fly rod trout!
Our youngest son had caught on quickly and was growing confident in casting his fly. I moved a few feet further downstream to cast into the head of the next hole when I heard him shout. Looking back at him I saw his rod bowing over hard and his face was...priceless. Eyes huge, mouth open and shouting "I got one! I got one!". I hurried back to him and his brother did the same from upstream, Reaching him at the same time I grabbed my net as his brother offered vocal assistance. All too quickly it was over, his first fly rod trout in the net, a beautiful male Rainbow. We removed the hook and posed for pictures before gently slipping the trout back into the water. He was all smiles as we were, me enjoying the moment while at the same time recalling his brother's first ten years before; his brother most likely pairing this memory with his first trout.
Eldest smokes us
The day ended after a few hours, far too short but time enough to create those lasting memories for us all. Eldest put it on me: he caught four, his little brother just the one while I got blanked. Not that I minded, I got what I wanted. A day with two of my sons fishing, them catching fish and making lifelong memories, memories shared together. Just another memory binding this family together and one I will treasure for as long as my mind functions.
© 2019 Mr Archer