Jesse Brown’s Outdoors Charlotte’s Escape
By: Chris O’Byrne
While catching fish on the fly is one of life’s high points, a visit to a landmark fly shop is a small reward in itself. Whether preparing for a bucket list adventure, spending family time, or sneaking out on business; browsing the local fly patterns and unique features of a new fly shop can be the best part of any trip. Here is one of my favorites.
Climbing the steps up to Jesse Brown’s Outdoors, sporting enthusiasts are reminded of the heritage of this shop to escape with.
An avid backpacker and mountaineer, Jesse Brown founded the shop in 1970. According to Bill Bartee, current owner of this landmark, Brown was part of the outdoor movement which had been growing since the boys came home in 1945. “There were zero specialty outdoor shops in the southeast. Jesse was inspired to promote backpacking and mountaineering to his community, then outfit them for success.” Seeing the need to serve the compatible population of fly anglers, Brown brought fly fishing into the mix in the mid-1970’s.
Since that addition, Jesse Brown’s has grown to industry leadership between two large reservoirs in Charlotte, North Carolina. With long shorelines and temperatures that are comfortable for a large selection of fish, Lake Norman to the north and Lake Wylie to the south provide home water fishing for species including largemouth bass and bream, striped bass, and crappie. But clay soil and running creeks foreshadow picturesque cold-water trout fishing which is only a couple hours away. While a four-hour drive east will bring you to inshore and offshore coastal fishing.
With their reputation for high end products and service, Jesse Brown’s has outfitted North Carolina’s most high-profile celebrities, including NASCAR heroes, legendary banking experts, and rock & roll stars. But Bartee is just as proud of the Charlotte area professionals who make up his daily clientele. Celebrating both the business culture of Charlotte and the escapist qualities of fly fishing, Bartee points out that Jesse Brown’s might be one of the best fly shops at helping these suited anglers sneak out on business trips. “We enjoy outfitting our clients around the country and are happy to continue Jesse’s mission of providing escapes from busy Charlotte. Name a place, our clients are going there.” Referring to a large world map marking these travels, Bartee continues, “Lately we’ve had several families and groups travelling to Argentina, Cuba & the Seychelles. But we also encourage and celebrate the day trips to western North Carolina and east Tennessee.”
To carry their heritage into the future, Jesse Brown’s is staffed with men and women who love the outdoors. Bartee says, “We celebrate the talents and expertise of our associates, who provide trusted advice and service for our clients’ adventures.” This ethos showed in the intelligent and enthusiastic answer by a young lady angler when I asked about Jesse Brown’s pond perfect fly, the Bream Popper.
Jesse Brown’s also features a podcast at jessebrowns.com for their out of town clients, called the Carolina Outdoors, and hosts Storyteller’s Night in the store for those in town.
Whether it’s business, a vacation, or just a layover that has you in Charlotte, stop by Jesse Brown’s. It might be the best part of your trip.
The author is grateful to Ms. Emily Griest of Lake Region High School for her support.