Today we take a look at our last of the four trout parks…Roaring River, which is located in the very southwestern corner of Missouri, about an hour west of Springfield. OK…while I haven’t fished RR but maybe a dozen times, let me tell you that the park itself is located in one of the most beautiful settings anywhere within Missouri.
If you, like me, grew up on the movie, “Where the Red Fern Grows”, then you know that RR is located in the heart of the Ozarks and not that far from where the movie, Red Fern, was located. The scenery as you drive down into the valley is special; in fact I usually come over from Branson and enter the park and its environs via county road F (which is just 6 miles from Eagle Rock).
Scenery aside, RR is a great place to spend a day or two…but let me throw out one partial negative right up front, there is only one section of the stream whereby you can wade. For a person who likes to feel water rushing by his legs…this took some getting used to. One other note, in the summer there are many areas where campers and locals set up and basically sit in the cool stream water. This too makes for a diversion from both fishing and the solitude of being on your own.
Typically it hasn’t been as crowded here….should I say, at least on the days that I have been to the park. One of my favorite things to do is to park in the last parking area before leaving the park to the southeast and walk down through the end of the park boundaries…and another mile or two further downstream (the stream will eventually dump into Table Rock Lake in about 4 miles). This is some real wooly country and about as remote as one can get.
I arose early from our camp spot on Table Rock and drove the hour or so down and around the south end of the big lake and pulled into a parking area at RR…just below the park boundaries on day a few years back. I grabbed a lanyard, a 3 weight rod with floating line and took off towards the stream. I hadn’t gone too far in the near darkness when a passel of coyotes started howling. They were moving and eventually came a short distance away…now I have grown up with such but have to admit that at one point I was just a bit spooked by all the action. Later that same morning I ran into a pool of rainbows that had escaped and moved down from the park. These were big ‘bows’ and were lying in a deep pool just below an outcropping of limbs and debris. I tried fly after fly and was snubbed, repeatedly by these 15 or so fish. Perseverance is a strength and finally I downsized my tippet, tied on a small, size 14 olive crackleback and drifted a fly right past them. Over a period of about 15 minutes I hauled out 4 of the most beautiful, semi-wild, rainbows I have ever landed.
That is what this trout park and area is about and proves that if you are willing to walk/work a bit…you can find these hidden gems. The Ozarks are full of areas such as this, in fact I’d be willing to say that you could fish days or maybe weeks on end and not hit the same waters! Trout and smallmouth are just lurking around each and every bend…waiting for you to come by and partake.
If you are down in this corner of Missouri then please don’t pass it up…you will be rewarded by fishing RR. A nice combo trip would be to then go east and take in Taneycomo and all it has to offer. Taneycomo, located in Branson is another very special fishery….but another story for another time.
As this is the last of the four trout parks…I hope you have enjoyed coming along and will at some point head into the Show-Me State and spend a week…or heck, a few weeks as you move from one awesome locale to another. I am envious of Missouri and all its great waters….but thankful that it is only a short day’s drive away.