Since my family’s arrival to St. James, I have had the privilege of meeting some outstanding people, and I continue to be amazed as I watch so many of those hard working and caring individuals and organizations give back so much to the community. Although we are located on a busy interstate and fairly close to city life, the long time families and organizations associated with St. James have successfully maintained a small town feel for our citizens. One annual event that represents the “small town feel” at St. James is Opening Day at Maramec Spring Park. This year, Opening Day will be Sunday, March 1.
Also, since my arrival I have been fortunate enough to be invited to the annual Trout Fraternity dinner/presentation each year. I appreciate this annual invitation, as it provides me the opportunity to visit with many of the present members the evening before Opening Day. The members of this organization constitute a large percentage of the people who make St. James a great place to work and live. Each year I enjoy learning more about the Trout Fraternity, The James Foundation, Maramec Springs Park, and the history of Opening Day at the park. The Trout Fraternity began in 1978 with three founding fathers: Jim Davis, Louis Donati, and Ira Wilson. At the time, these three founding fathers would spend the night before opening day at the Maramec Spring Park maintenance shed. Early in the morning they would help park cars to allow anglers to get their fishing tags and access to the water as soon as possible without incident. Over the years this group has grown, as its purpose of giving back to the community and park became infectious to many. Since the inception of the fraternity in 1978, there have been 130 members with 80 still living and participating. Members are encouraged to participate in several community events such as Opening Day, Kid’s Fishing Day, and Old Iron Works Days….all Maramec Spring Park functions.
Because of the strong partnership with the Missouri Department of Conservation over the years, several department employees, who have strived to improve and maintain the park, have been inducted into this storied order. Each year, local conservationists give updates about the park and explain what the fishermen have to look forward to on opening day. The spring branch is typically heavily stocked with lunkers thrown in to spice things up. Maramec Spring Park is the only park in Missouri where you are allowed to keep 5 fish this year instead of 4. This is a pilot program from the Conservation Department. Cost will be $5 per tag instead of $3. All other parks are $4 for 4 fish. Free coffee, cinnamon rolls, and other items, provided by Travis Holt from Country Bob’s, will be available to all the anglers to start Opening Day. I look forward to getting to see so many men, women, and children enjoy the beginning of trout season at our local park. Opening morning at Maramec Spring Park is a memorable fishing experience and just one of the many things that make St. James one of the greatest places in Missouri to live!