By Tammy Millsaps
Great memories were made for sure this day! We enjoyed a busy, fun-filled field trip! Two dozen Swainglers, and three extra chaperones, loaded the bus after first bell. The bus was full of excited anglers along with all of their gear.
Our first destination was Carolina Mountain Trout Hatchery (owned by Howard Brown) on the Straight Fork prong of Big Cove in Cherokee, NC. We couldn’t have asked for a better tour guide than Andy Helton. He was very patient and informative with my excited group of teenagers. Mr. Helton led the group around the grounds and answered many questions. We were fortunate enough to be there at feeding time. We observed an employee riding on the back of a truck using a homemade fish feeder, made out of a leaf blower and a huge pipe, blowing out loads of fish food to thousands of eager fish jumping to catch their share of breakfast. I think we could have stayed there all day, It was definitely the best part of our busy day! I highly recommend other school groups visit. Feel free to contact the Hatchery at 828-321-3335.
Our next stop was a late breakfast/early lunch at Peter’s Pancakes in Cherokee. With bellies full of the best southern breakfast cooking around, we headed to the Ela Dam area and fished down the river for a few hours. Several fish were caught. Campbell Fuller caught his first of many trout on a white tube with red and orange flakes. Trevor Jones caught several fish using a Rainbow Rapala CountDown. Waters were high due to recent flooding, making catching a little harder than normal. The river was full of debris and trash. But that didn’t matter to two of my top anglers. I think Campbell and Trevor could catch fish in a mud hole!
We had a great time. The day started out overcast and cool and ended with warmth from the sunshine. Students learned a lot at the hatchery, some are even interested in a career in the fish business. It was such a treat to sit down with these kids and enjoy a meal. Laughter filled the restaurant. I want to give special thanks to Jackie Parton Corn, of Great Smoky Mountain Bait and Tackle, for donating funds to help buy our meal! A huge shout out to Swain High Principal, Sonya Blankenship, for allowing us to go on our adventure. My hope is that, days like this, are what the students will remember as one of their fondest high school memories. I know it will be one of mine.
Tammy Millsaps is the Leader of The Swainglers fishing club at Swain County High School in Bryson City, North Carolina. They fish once a month of the school year during club time. Contact her at email@example.com for more information or to support this popular club.