Trout season is coming. And that’s a big deal in the city of Cassville, nestled deep in the Southwest corner of Missouri.
The snowflakes of winter are replaced with banners welcoming fishermen to downtown Cassville each year in late February. One annual tradition is the coffee mug the local Chamber of Commerce designs and hands out as an important memento for the gun-shot start as the sun rises on March 1.
Soon, visitors from all over the state of Missouri, and as far reaching as Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and beyond will travel to Cassville to cast their lines into the cold waters of the Roaring River. This year’s opening day will be a Friday, which means Roaring River State Park will prepare to sell over 2,000 fishing license to those eager to catch their limit. The park campgrounds, the Emory Melton Inn & Conference Center, and all local cabins and resorts will soon be full of visitors hoping for their next big catch.
Opening Day of Trout Season in Cassville is a time-honored tradition for locals. On opening day, the public school is not in session. The halls of the school buildings are quiet and empty, while Cassville students welcome back old friends and meet new ones as they reach for the tackle boxes and go to their favorite fishing spot.
While in Cassville, visitors can also take a tour of the Barry County Museum. There you will find on display coffee mugs from the past 20 years that have been handed out to anglers by the local chamber and their members. Locals head to the river before 4:00 a.m. to brew large pots of coffee over the fire. As the coffee brews, visitors know to look for the Les Jacobs Ford tent so they can add a new coffee mug to their collection. In less than an hour, nearly 900 coffee mugs will be in the hands of fishermen all along the river. High school students, chamber members and many others will spend the next hour walking along the banks with coolers full of coffee, asking anyone if they need a refill.
It’s not the coffee mug that keeps them coming back year after year and decade after decade. It’s the stories that are told over that piping hot cup. It’s the friends they come to know helping the person next to them when their line gets caught. It’s the feeling they get when they reel in a relentless trout. It’s the warmth in the heart a grandfather gets when he sees generations of his family still gathering at the fishing hole together.
What will you be doing this March 1st? Grab your fishing poles and come home to America’s hometown. Enjoy a weekend of beautiful scenery, great food, great shopping, great food and amazing people in Cassville.
PHOTO/Cassville Area Chamber of Commerce