Fly Fishing at Roaring River State Park – Cassville, Missouri

I’ve got a little spot for you…a secret, there is a little 4 mile stretch of Missouri water that is a real gem; springs from above pour cool water into the Roaring River and thus was born one of the four Missouri trout parks. The others are Montauk, Bennet and Meremac…all located in the central and east central part of the state, while Roaring River is located in the far southwest, just a few miles west of Table Rock Lake.

If you wish, go ahead and fish the trout park…but be warned it is a little odd. There is only one section that can be waded and it is a multi-use area; multi in wading and swimming, frolicking, etc…and you can guess who or what bothers whom? While in Missouri over the July 4th week I fished Roaring River Trout Park and did so in the middle of the day. I was the ONLY one on the catch and release section…and no swimmers! It was fun and frankly one of the toughest fly fishing challenges I have had as these fish were pooling in gin clear water and had been educated by a good many fly rodder. The first pool I came to was deep and clear with about 30 big fish easing here and there. I went with my usual black wooly with a long marabou tail….no problem right? Wrong! They refused me like I was back in high school and looking for a prom date. I couldn’t believe it. I had my type 3 weighted line on and it simply was not getting the fly deep enough….but even so, the trout that did look gave an obligatory swim by and returned to their slot in the water. To make a long story short I went to a front weighted line and a hybrid bitch creek nymph and by carefully allowing the water to drag the fly through various pools, caught 8 fish, all were big and I was proud of the effort…lesson learned.

OK….so, back to the water below the trout park. If you turn onto county road F off of Missouri 86 and head toward the park, you will see 2 county roads that turn left off of F; both of these cross the creek, but continue north for another mile or so and you will see a large Roaring River Conservation sign on the right…make a left into the gravel parking area and that is the beginning of a trail head. Grab your gear and head down the trail toward the creek…you will know you are there when you reach a small limestone bluff and have to crawl over a few rocks to get into the stream. Once there…you can go right, or north for about ¾ mile toward the park itself; there are a number of good pools to the right that have a good number of trout and good water. I have gone left about a mile and it too has good water with lots of fish. Be warned…the last time I was there the water was down, clear and this made the fish very, very spooky. The first day I fished for 3 hours and caught one trout…and was darn glad to have hooked him. I finally did so by using a blue crackle back in size 12 and dead drifted it into a hole…I might add that I did so by making long casts with my 2 weight rod; so if you don’t know how to haul or double haul…teach yourself or get a lesson.

The next day I went back just because I felt like I had been sent to my room without supper the day before and wasn’t going to allow a bunch of trout with a brain the size of  thimble to defeat me…at least I hoped so. I stayed with my 2 weight rod and once again used a blue crackle back and by staying out of sight as much as possible and drifting the fly across and over the pools I was able to catch fish…and was relieved in doing so as I don’t like the feeling of not having an idea. The closest thing I can relate this to are the shows that I have watched whereby fly fisherman are casting to a single brown trout in New Zealand. If you have watched these shows then you know what I am talking about…except for the fact that I didn’t have a guide and a spotter. I love a challenge and this little piece of water is just such a challenge.

The next time you are in Branson, fishing Taneycomo and the folks are generating…then jump on 65 south, take a right on 86 and stay there for about 30 miles until you see the Roaring River Park signs…then take a left on F and look for the parking area. One other interesting history area is just south of the park entrance on the left…there is a gravel drive that takes you down to the stream and would be a great drop off area, anyway, just before you pull into the woods by the water, look to your right and you will see a historical marker. Go give it a read as it tells about the family that settled the Roaring River area way back in the early 1800’s; they must have been some tough folks! Good luck fishing and many bent rods to you!


    • Mike Price
    • August 18, 2011

    Nice article I may go there sometime. Would like wade if possible.

      • Patty Butler
      • May 2, 2015

      My family and I have been fishing Roaring River now for only about 3 years. This year my grandson and I are going to try our luck with fly fishing. I would like to find out from you what kind, or size of line should we use?

      1. Reply

        Line size is a question that is asked often. A lot depends on experience level. If you and your grandson are new fly-fishers….then probably a 5 or 6 weight is the right line and set up. A smaller line/reel/rod might be too delicate and anything bigger is not needed. I feel like a 5 weight is the right weight for most of these Missouri streams like Roaring River. If you haven’t fly fished much…then try and find someone at the park who might be able to give a lesson or some help…a little advice can go a long ways. Occasionally Jim Rogers gets down that way…he is based out of Bennett Spring and would do a very nice job of lessons.


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