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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 are the habitat requirements for native trout species?

• 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:

Symposium Schedule


8:30-9:00- coffee and pastries



-Dennis Chastain

Dennis Chastain 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.  Through his many years of research, Dennis has found evidence that our native brook trout species might have been established because of the efforts of Wade Hampton III bringing specimens across the Continental Divide to Cashiers Valley. He will share this evidence and reasons behind this theory. 

-Herman Walker

Herman Walker, a Pickens county native, has spent his life as a purist outdoorsman.  Herman will dive deep into our native trout species, their habitat requirements, and the history of fly fishing.  He will speak about how the loss of hemlocks due to wooly Adelgid has affected the temperature and habitat of our local waters. 

-Matt Canter

Matt Canter is part owner of Brookings Anglers in Cashiers and Highlands.  Matt will speak about the delicate habitat requirements for native trout species and how recent development has negatively impacted our streams and rivers.  He will also present a project that he and Trout Unlimited have been working on to restore our native waters. 


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.  The tents will be set up on the lawn outside Canyon Kitchen where participants can visit and rotate at their own pace depending on their level of interest and involvement. 

1) Fly tying exhibit

           - Roger Lowe

2) Casting lessons

              - Brookings guides

3) Bamboo Rods

               - John Hollifield

4) City Lights

               - Chris Wilcox

5) Speaker Round table

              - an opportunity for participants to ask questions and 

              speak more in depth with the symposium speakers. 

Native Trout Exhibit

Tickets Coming Soon

Photos from Matt Canter - Brookings Anglers

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