River runs through family traditions
Riffle was one of many who headed to the park on opening morning, representing a tie to the traditions of which Freeman and Topham both spoke.
At a bend of the river near the fish-cleaning station, those sentiments are echoed by Parker Nelson of Pea Ridge, Arkansas, who has been fishing and camping at Roaring River since the mid-’90s and who represents generations of tradition. One of his accompanying friends Justin Brown, who for several years has also brought his son, 11-year-old Zach. One of his accompanying friends was Justin Brown, who for several years has also brought his son, 11-year-old Zach.
The young-yet-seasoned angler doesn’t say exactly why he loves coming back, but proof is on the stringer: He pulls it up to show two trout he already caught.
On another section of the stream, another memorable moment comes when Michael Knight catches his first fish. Knight’s interest in fishing goes deep: He notes he owns a fly shop in Kansas City, and also is a fly tyer and designer.
“And he tells pretty good fish stories,” says his friend, Ruth Franklin, who joined him in a morning spent at the river.
“Yeah, like this one …,” Knight says, as the fish flops and falls out of his hands.
“... the one that tried to get away,” finishes Franklin.
“The park has always been about more than just fish,” Freeman says, noting that the station plays more than simply a literal role for those that visit the park year after year. “It’s not just about the fish. They’re preserving their memories.”
By Kaitlyn McConnell, writer in residence for the Community Foundation of the Ozarks.