We here at FlyfishMagazine.com recently got a hold of a tidbit of insider information about a new trophy trout fishery that will be of interest to Carolina fly anglers. North Carolina Fly Fishing Team Director and Rumble in the Rhododendron organizer T.E. Shuler reports:
The Rumble in the Rhododendron Fly Fishing Competition will kick off the opening of the new Catch and Release section in Cherokee October 18th.The section will be fly fishing only, catch and release. and will be open year round. Rules are specific that you must be using a fly rod, fly reel, fly line and leader, with a fly made from natural and synthetic material. This will eliminate guys using a fly and casting bubble on Zebco or the guy using a cheese worm on a fly rod.
It is a 2.5 mile stretch of the Ravens Fork starting at the confluence with the Oconoluftee River and running up the Ravens Fork for 2.5 miles to a place known as Stoney Curve, which is close to Myer's store.The section will be clearly marked with plaques with regulations posted.To fish this section you will be required to purchase a Special Use Permit (word is that this will cost $20) which is good for one year from the date of purchase, and a daily Tribal Fishing Permit for each day you wish to fish the Tribal Enterprise Water.
The water will be stocked with a mind boggling amount of fish. Everything from Rainbow, Brown, Brook, Donaldson Strain Rainbows, to Golden Trout. And yes there will be plenty of trophy proportioned fish. With what I know about the section, I wouldn't step in there with nothing short of a 5wt. The water will patrolled around the clock by Tribal Game Wardens particularly assigned to just the Catch and Release Section, so would be poachers beware.
This is a momentous effort by the Cherokee Fish and Wildlife Management. They are offering to the public something that would normally be completely private, or cost $100's a day to fish for a fraction of the cost. They are very serious about conservation, preservation, and stream restoration. They are currently conducting studies on many levels with their fisheries and surrounding tribal waters. The things they are currently doing, and have planned for the years to come is truly amazing.
For literally dozens of years The Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation, who's tribal lands reside in the mountains of Western North Carolina, have long been know for their operation of a successful put and take trout fishery. Anglers who purchase a tribal fishing license gain access to some of the most heavily stocked trout waters in the state. Up until now this fishery has received limited attention from fly anglers and had for the most part been the domain of the meat fisherman. My very first trout fishing experience came on these very waters fishing with night crawlers and corn on opening day of trout season.
While there are no allusions that these won't be "pellet fed pigs" as we sometimes call fat hatchery trout, in my opinion the tribe's move to open a catch and release fishery that is managed for trophy trout in what was once pure put and take water is a bold step and one that will be a big draw to the area and just might open a large door for more anglers to try the sport of fly fishing. For more information in the near future see the Cherokee Fish and Wildlife Website. If you are interested in taking part in what may very well be this year's largest fly fishing tournament in the Southeast check out the Rumble in the Rhododendron website for more information. Our informants have also told us that the original purse of $2,500 for this event has been increased a substantial amount. More on this later.