2017 Memorial Day Trout Tournament: The Heat is On!5.2.2017
When it comes to a popular solo pastime like fishing, a little competition can lead to big fun. Within the 30 miles of Cherokee’s privately stocked freestone streams, participants in the 2017 Memorial Day Trout Tournament will be able to compete for cash prizes. The competition will take place from Friday, May 26, to Sunday, May 28.
“The Memorial Day Fishing Tournament in Cherokee attracts avid fishermen from all over the United States who see an opportunity to fish well stocked streams while enjoying a long, relaxing holiday weekend in the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina,” says Paula Price, program coordinator of the Cherokee Natural Resources Program. “During this tournament, fishermen get an opportunity to win up to $10,000 in prizes during the three-day tournament. What’s not to love about it?”
Enterprise waters include most of Raven Fork, Oconaluftee River, and Soco watersheds. While the 2.2 miles of catch-and-release waters in Raven Fork are still open to the public, there will be no tagged fish in this area.
Fish and wildlife biologist Mike LaVoie, with the Cherokee Fisheries and Wildlife Management Program, says that all sorts of fishing methods are used in these kinds of tournaments. “People use a variety of tackle and gear for the tournaments—fly rod and flies, spinning rods and lures/spinners, spinning rods with bait (worms, corn, power bait), etc. It really varies, but spinning rods are still the predominant type of gear used.”
Anglers will find a mix of wild and stocked rainbow, brook, golden, and brown trout, as well as smallmouth bass. Mike says that most wild trout don’t undergo large migrations, but the ones that do move up to the smaller streams in late winter/spring (such as the rainbow trout) and the fall (such as the brook and brown trout) are in search of a suitable spawning habitat. He adds, “Wild trout can be more aggressive and hungry during the spring as it warms and insect hatches (mayflies, stoneflies, caddisflies) accelerate.” This means there are likely more catches for fishermen!
Remember Your Permit & Registration
Tribal fishing permits ($10 for each person) are required to fish in the Cherokee streams or ponds. The limit is ten fish per day, per permit. Children under 12 can fish when accompanied by a permitted adult.
Registration ($11) is available anywhere fishing permits are sold (a variety of business entities in Cherokee), as well as online. Be sure to carry a paper copy of your permit when fishing on the Eastern Band Reservation.
How to Claim Your Prize
Tournament tagged fish can be turned in for prize monies at the Cherokee Welcome Center’s Beetle Stage Pavilion, 498 Tsali Blvd, off of Hwy 441. from 4–6 p.m. on tournament days only. The amounts differ and depend on the color of the tag. After the tournament, you may still find tagged fish in the waters. While they can be still be caught (with a valid tribal fishing permit), they cannot be turned in for prizes.
Enjoy the Long Weekend!
While you’re in Cherokee for the tournament, be sure to visit some of the wonderful nearby cultural attractions, such as the Oconaluftee Village, Museum of the Cherokee Indian, and Sequoyah National Golf Club. Come for the tournament, stay for the vacation.