Trout fishing is very popular in Western North Carolina and the sport brings many anglers to our area. Last week, a local resident caught a 14-pound Brown Trout in Davidson River. While not a record, this is one nice catch. (NOTE: I originally listed the weight in error, stating the fish was 19 pounds. Guess even I wanted to exaggerate the catch.)(Photograph from The Transylvania Times)
It is quite possible that this trout started life here:
The Bobby N. Setzer Fish Hatchery is located in Pisgah National Forest and raises three types of trout to stock the rivers in Western North Carolina.
I was surprised to learn that only the Brook Trout is a true North Carolina native.
It takes a long time to raise a trout from egg to release. The fish eggs begin to hatch 30-50 days after fertilization. The young fish are maintained in indoor tanks for 4-5 months, until they are about 3 inches long. The small trout (called fingerlings) are moved to outside tanks where they are kept for another 18 months. When they are large enough, they are released into the rivers.
On a given day, one will find many fishermen and women along the Davidson River. Don't be fooled by the fact that these trout began life in a hatchery. They still are a challenge and not an easy catch by any means.
While we have suitable rivers and streams in Western North Carolina, many of them cannot support a sizable wild trout population. Stocking the streams provides more fishing opportunities than we would have without them.
The Setzer Hatchery has a large green space and gives fly fishing lessons to the public. What a treat to see so many people bring their children to learn about the fish and learn to cast.