We get those occasional winter days when the weather is warm with gentle puffs of breeze from the south.
Winter fishing is good for crappie, black bass and striped bass. It’s prime hiking season. There’s so much to see in the open woods and the bugs are finally gone. Decisions, decisions.
Visitors can fish and hike, and even throw in a picnic, during a trip to Roaring River State Park near Seligman, Mo.
There’s catch and release fly fishing for trout from 8 a.m., to 4 p.m., Fridays through Mondays. Short trails and longer routes crisscross the park, situated in a deep valley nine miles northeast of Seligman. From Seligman, follow Missouri 112 east to the park.
We’ve come to enjoy a nice routine of catching fish and hitting the trail on winter visits to Roaring River. We get to the park bright and early, sometimes cold and early, to have a go at the trout with our fly rods. Now and then we’re the only ones in the park when fishing starts at 8 a.m. It’s not unusual to have a whole pool of trout water to yourself during catch and release season, and not that rare to be the only soul in the park, at least for awhile.
That was the case during our last visit Dec. 19, a frosty Monday morning. Not another fisherman showed up in the park until the day started warming about 9:30 a.m. More fishermen showed up as the sun climbed.
A scrappy rainbow trout bending your fly rod will perk up any chilly morning. Fishing was a bit on the slow side that Monday, but we managed to bring a half dozen to the net. Letting them go and watching them swim away is part of the deal. Anglers can keep trout during catch and keep season March 1 through Oct. 31.
Around noon we stash the fly rods and lace up some comfortable shoes to take a hike. All the trails at Roaring River are worth the walk, but our favorite is Devil’s Kitchen Trail, which starts near the trout hatchery. It’s a 1.5-mile gem that loops through the woods. It’s pretty, with a good dose of exercise.
The first part of the hike heads into a woody hollow, past some nice rock formations. Then the trail goes up, up, up to the top of a ridge. At the summit, long views of the park are seen through the open winter forest.
Just a few more steps and the route goes down, down, down the other side. This is one of the prettiest parts of the trail, where it follows along a bluff line. There are rock gardens and boulders galore that make nice photographs and good places to stop for lunch on the hike.
On this chilly visit to Roaring River, we dined after the hike at a picnic table in the sunshine. We’d packed the camp stove and set it up on the table to make some hot soup. The noontime fare was five star dining on a 45-degree day.
There are bald eagles to see. Trout are an easy meal for these winter visitors at the park. A visit to the Missouri Department of Conservation trout hatchery at Roaring River might be in order, as well as a look at the spring that flows at 20 million gallons per day. The clear water bubbles to earth in a cleft of limestone at the base of a bluff near the hatchery.
Then it’s back to fishing for another hour or two before heading home, basking in the glow of a great day, fine fishing and good hiking at Roaring River.
Flip Putthoff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org on on Twitter @NWAFlip
Sports on 01/03/2017