Get Hooked On Mountain Trout

Posted November 12, 2006 9:31 p.m. EST

North Carolina has more than 4,000 miles of streams cool enough to support brook, brown and rainbow trout as well as stocked streams and a thriving trout industry. In fact, four to six million pounds of it are produced in western North Carolina every year.

Our mountain streams are also teeming with three different varieties of trout: the ever-popular rainbow, the brook trout and the brown trout.

So you might say we’re partial to the gustatory glories of this dappled delicacy.

There’s perhaps no more satisfying way to procure your fresh Carolina trout than by doing so Hemingway-style: wading into one of our icy two-hearted streams, hooking a big one with a well-cast fly, then frying it up for breakfast, lunch or dinner over a roaring fire. (Papa Hemingway preferred to cook his with a strip or two of bacon for extra flavoring.)

To fish in our state-designated trout waters, all you’ll need is a North Carolina fishing license and a trout permit. On the Cherokee Indian Reservation, however, no state license is needed. A tribal fishing permit is required instead, available at nearly two dozen Reservation businesses.

Native American fishing guides are also available to show you where these finicky beauties are biting.

If the intricate charms of fly-fishing elude you, however, visit one of North Carolina’s trout farms and you can snare a large, fresh fish with a rod and a spinning reel. Several of these "farms" have scenic little ponds stocked to the gills with big hungry rainbows ready and waiting to go home with you after only one or two casts.

The easiest option of all, of course, is to visit one of North Carolina’s fine restaurants and let us do all the preparing and cooking for you. We venture to say that nobody knows how to cook a trout better than we do. After all, we’ve been creating, swapping and improvising on our closely guarded recipes for generations.

What may come as a surprise is how many different ways there are to enjoy a North Carolina rainbow trout: whole, in red or white fillets, even as a pate or even smoked in a variety of ways. Perhaps nobody raises the pleasures of the North Carolina trout to a higher art form than the Sunburst Trout Company located near Asheville. From smoked fillets to trout chowder and even Hickory Smoked Trout Mousse, this company makes the most out of this mountain delicacy.

You may not be able to hook a North Carolina trout right away in one of our streams. But we’ve got a feeling that, sooner or later, our trout are going to hook you.

For more trout fishing information, visit the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission’s Trout Fishing page.