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Jackson declared Premier Trout Fishing Destination


Jackson County won’t officially become the North Carolina Trout Capital this year, but legislators expressed their support of the county’s angling opportunities by declaring it the state’s Premier Trout Fishing Destination on Wednesday, June 1, in Raleigh.

“It’s part of our heritage and it’s key to our economy. I’m all for supporting it,” Rep. Joe Sam Queen, D-Waynesville, said of the designation. 

Jackson County had originally rolled out its proposal to be named the state’s trout capital in late April, with the idea that the local delegation could introduce a bill making the designation official oncethe  session opened days later. 

What they hadn’t banked on, though, was discovering that because this year is the legislature’s short session that type of bill would not be able to make it to the floor until the long session next year. 

“That sort of threw us for a curve,” said County Commission Chairman Brian McMahan. 

However, Jackson’s bid for trout capital still has the support of local legislators, and county leaders are hopeful it will come to fruition next year. 

“We’re excited and optimistic, and look forward to branding Jackson County as the Premier Trout Fishing Destination in the state, and ultimately the Trout Capital. This adds credibility to the success of the WNC Fly Fishing Trail, and provides additional opportunities for fishing and accommodation packages, retailers’ and outfitters’ expansion of offerings, and potentially a new festival for our region,” said Julie Spiro, executive director of the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce.  

Jackson County, which contains 4,600 miles of trout streams, receives an annual stocking of 92,800 trout — the most of any county in the state. It has the longest contiguous stretch of N.C. Mountain Heritage Trout Waters, with three of the 13 towns in the state bearing that name located in its borders — Sylva, Dillsboro and Webster.

County leaders are hopeful that a designation as trout capital would only bolster what is already an important industry for the area. A 2009 study from the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission found that trout fishing has a $146 million annual impact on the 24 western counties, supporting 1,997 jobs and providing $56 million in income. 

“Jackson County deserves this trout capital,” said Commissioner Charles Elders. 

Guides for the WNC Fly Fishing Trail are available through 828.586.2155.

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