Roaring river fish hatchery

The renovation project at the trout hatchery at Roaring River State Park in southern Missouri is nearing completion.

The renovation project at the trout hatchery at Roaring River State Park in southern Missouri has not impacted anglers in the state.

Paul Spurgeon, hatchery manager, said that through August more than 80,000 people have visited the park to fish for the more than 195,000 trout that Missouri Department of Conservation staff have stocked at the popular fishing site.

Trout fishing season will continue through Oct. 31.

He said the hatchery was temporarily shut down last September for a renovation project.

Despite no trout production from the stream’s normal trout supplier, trout fishing at Roaring River hasn’t been hindered. He said they have been able to allow anglers to use the area due to the connectivity of MDC’s multiple hatchery systems.

Roaring River’s hatchery normally raises up to 500,000 trout annually from egg to fingerling size and stocks 260,000 trout in park’s waters each year. Trout production was brought to a temporary halt in September 2018 so a $1.9 million renovation project could be completed.

Spurgeon said the department is aiming for construction to end in November depending on weather.

He said approximately 110,000 people fish at the park each year for an 8-month season.

“Our tag sales for the year is down slightly,” Spurgeon said. “We are down around 1 or 2 percent. It really has not affected our trout fishing hardly at all.”

The construction has removed water from most of the hatchery’s pools and raceways. The bulk of the trout for this year’s fishing has come from MDC’s Montauk Hatchery in Dent County and a few have come from Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery in Taney County.

“It is not unusual for our hatcheries to share fish,” Spurgeon said. “Fish, eggs and fingerlings are routinely transferred between the hatcheries. As the hatcheries are spread around the state, someone will inevitably have flooding and the increased fish mortality that goes with it. In those cases, one or more of the other hatcheries always step up and cover the loss. Our hatchery system has worked well under incredible adversity.”

The project involves replacing existing flood control structures at the hatchery’s spring pool with electric, corrosion-proof and stainless-steel gates. The flood control structure at the spring’s entrance will also be replaced and a leak-proof pipeline is being installed, which replaces an existing line, to feed water into the hatchery. All water-control valves within the spring pool are being replaced with stainless steel.

“The old gates that were in there were manually operated and these will be electric,” Spurgeon said. “There’s also an automatic self-cleaning screen going in that will clean the water before it gets to the hatchery. The pipeline that went up to the hatchery was leaking and that’s being replaced. Everything that is being replaced should have a long-life expectancy.”

However, the lure of Roaring River isn’t only about fishing.

Spurgeon said numerous visitors have asked when trout will be able to be seen swimming in the rearing pools and the raceways around the hatchery again. He said this points out that in addition to trout fishing, trout viewing is also one of the appeals of the state park.

“There is something soothing about walking through a hatchery and feeding fish,” Spurgeon said. “The sound of the rushing spring water teeming with rainbow trout is appealing. Visitors tell us it is one of the major reasons why they visit the park.”

Margaret Slayton can be reached