By: Chris Shaffer
The general North Carolina trout opener is still a week away. However, the famed Cherokee trout opener is this Saturday March 30. Last season, more than 5,000 anglers took part in the now annual event. According to Fish Cherokee more than 36,000 trout were stocked in the last two weeks in preparation for the opener. Those join tens of thousands of trout previously stocked this winter and thousands more wild trout.
Despite poor weather this winter, Mike Lavoie, Fisheries Manager for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians told us he’s expecting a banner opener. He admitted streams are flowing higher than they often do, but explained that flows are retreating and conditions point to a long season complimented with good flows and cool, clean water.
“Flows have been really good. The water hasn’t been too high and we are excited about it. We’ve had nothing catastrophic in terms of flooding, but we’ve had high water all winter,” Lavoie added. “The high water adds some insurance against drought. Right now there’s springs and creeks flowing that we don’t always see. It’s been a great recharge for our lands. The better news is we haven’t had a flow this year that exceeded one of our peak flows last year.”
Even more important is that the weather for this week and weekend looks excellent. Creeks will be in great shape and loaded with mostly rainbow trout.
“This week looks great. We aren’t expecting any rain late this week and for the opener on Saturday,” Lavoie mentioned. “Our waters have been closed to fishing the last few weeks. The two-week closure allows the river to rest and our guys have been hard at stocking every day. We are stocking more than 1,000 fish per mile. It’s going to be a jam-packed and fun weekend. We have 30 miles of stocked water so that’s 30,000 fish! Keep in mind those fish are on top of weekly stockings all winter. There’s a ton of trout up here! We are stocking some big fish too. I saw some in the five-to-seven-pound range go in this week. On top of that there are a lot of wild fish that are being caught, too.”