CASSVILLE, MO. — If Jim Williams looked a little bleary-eyed by the time the trout season opened at 6:30 a.m. Thursday at Roaring River State Park, that was to be expected. He woke up in the middle of the night to drive to the park. Then he headed straight for his favorite spot and established squatter’s rights for more than three hours.
“You have to get here early if you want to get some of the good spots,” said Williams, 64, who lives in Mano, Mo. “I’ve opened the season at this exact spot since 1961.
“I fish out here probably 50 to 60 times a year. But this is the biggest day of the year.
“This is the day when you have lots of company out here.”
Indeed, it wasn’t long before Williams was standing elbow to elbow with other fishermen in the dark. Parking lots filled and a steady stream of traffic flowed into the park. Only on opening day …
“We’re a bunch of crazies,” Williams said with a laugh. “To get up in the middle of the night to fight a crowd like this …
“But there isn’t anyplace I’d rather be.”
As the sky began to lighten, Williams looked down in the pool in front of him and could see the shadows of big trout darting about. When Gov. Jay Nixon fired a pistol several times to signal the start of fishing hours, those trout became fair game.