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Talking Trout:

The history and evolution of native trout and fly fishing in Western NC

Date: Thursday; June 15, 2023

Time: 8:30-4:00

Location: Canyon Kitchen at Lonesome Valley

What is Talking Trout About?

Fly fishing in the trout streams of North Carolina is a favorite pastime for visitors to Cashiers Valley. This summer, the 2023 Jan Wyatt Symposium will explore many unanswered questions concerning local trout species and their future health and wellbeing.

• Are brook trout native to local streams?
• What is it like to fish for brook trout in the backcountry of western North Carolina?

• How has fly fishing on the plateau changed over the years?

• Where are the trails to popular fishing spots?

Talking Trout is a day long exploration into the history of native trout and fly fishing in North Carolina. Events will be located at Canyon Kitchen in Lonesome Valley, Sapphire NC. Speakers will present the history of fly fishing as well as information about native trout and local river access. An array of afternoon activities will offer participants hands-on experiences in tying flies, building and casting bamboo rods and more. A Speakers Round Table will provide opportunities for more indepth conversations with Symposium guests.


An on-going exhibit, located in the Zachary Tolbert House at Cashiers Historical Society, will highlight the historical significance of several trout species.

What is the Jan Wyatt Symposium? 

In 2005, Cashiers Historical Society presented the first Jan Wyatt Symposium. It focused on William Holland Thomas, a North Carolinian born in the 1800s near Waynesville and later adopted into the tribe of the Eastern Cherokee Indians. For the following fifteen years, the Historical Society continued its mission to preserve the history of Cashiers Valley through education by sponsoring an annual symposium. The featured topics ranged from historical figures to geological issues to cultural aspects of the region. Previous symposia highlighted traditional mountain music, heirloom gardens, and the Civil War in the Carolinas.

The 2023 Jan Wyatt Symposium will be held at Canyon Kitchen, located in Lonesome Valley. The day-long event will continue the Cashiers Historical Society tradition with presentations on the introduction of brook trout to Cashiers Valley, the current status of a variety of fish species and the future health of native trout. Lunch will feature guest speaker, Sally Jennings Hudson, founder of Sunburst Trout Fish Hatchery.

For more information about Talking Trout, contact:

Native Trout Exhibit

Location: Cashiers Historical Society- Highway 107

Time: June 14 - June 24, 2023

Learn about the history of fly fishing in western North Carolina at an exhibit at the Cashiers Historical Society. The exhibit will run from June 14-June 24, and will include an array of activities for visitors of all ages.

Symposium Schedule


8:30-9:00- coffee and pastries



Dennis Chastain

Dennis Chasten is a naturalist, historian, and author from Pickens

County. He is very active in the Pickens County Historical Society and has

been writing feature articles for South Carolina Wildlife magazine since

1989. In the process of researching an article on brook trout, he discovered

an extensive, decades-long program of stocking brook trout in head-water

streams south and east of the Eastern Continental Divide; beginning with

Wade Hampton III's efforts to transport brook trout from the Little

Tennessee River to High Hampton in the mid-1800's. Dennis Chastain will

reveal the details of his research in his Powerpoint presentation.

Herman Walker

Herman Walker a Greenville county native, has spent his life as a purist

outdoorsman. Herman will share his experiences of fishing for Brook trout

in the backcountry of WNC and how it has changed over his lifetime. He

will share his knowledge of the history of Brook trout in Western North

Carolina with a blend of personal stories, scientific knowledge and

unmatched expertise.

Matt Canter

Matt Canter is part owner of Brookings Anglers in Cashiers and

Highlands. Matt will speak about the trout fishing opportunities around

Cashiers and beyond. He will share some insider knowledge so that anglers

learn about some lesser known locations.


12:00-1:00- lunch and Lunch speaker

Sally Jennings Hudson

Sally Jennings Hudson is a member of the Jennings family from Lonesome Valley and founder of Sunburst Trout Fish Hatchery. Her father, Dick Jennings, had an early trout farm in Lonesome Valley. 


1:00-4:00- Afternoon Breakout Activities

The afternoon will consist of 6 tents with activities for the participants to visit and rotate at their own pace.


  • Fly Tying Demonstration - Roger Lowe, Brooking Anglers 

  • Casting Lessons - Brookings Anglers guides

  • Hollifield Bamboo Fly Rods - John Hollifield, handcrafted custom rods 

  • City Lights Book Store - Chris Wilcox, an assortment of relevant books 

  • Speaker Round Table - Dennis Chastain, Herman Walker, Matt Canter

  • Jackson County Fly Fishing Trail - Cashiers Area Chamber of Commerce


Photos from Matt Canter - Brookings Anglers

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