New data from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) reveals that every dollar spent by anglers on mountain trout fishing in North Carolina generates a substantial economic return of $1.93, resulting in a remarkable $1.38 billion impact.

The study, titled “Evaluation of North Carolina Trout Anglers’ Opinions, Participation, and Socioeconomic Impact,” conducted by NCWRC’s Conservation Policy & Analysis group and the Inland Fisheries Division, delves into the socioeconomic aspects of trout fishing. Examining monetary contributions, out-of-state angler involvement, equipment and trip-related expenses, the report also explores anglers’ motivations, satisfaction levels, challenges, and feedback on NCWRC’s trout management.

Jake Rash, the cold water fisheries research coordinator, emphasized the study’s comprehensive nature, stating, “We wanted to better understand how anglers utilize the trout waters we manage and the views of trout fishing from the anglers themselves. Understanding anglers’ motivations and perceptions provides broader insight into this popular North Carolina sport.”

Published in July, the report showcases the significant increase in the economic impact of trout fishing compared to the 2015 evaluation, which reported a $383 million impact. The surge is attributed to a 53% rise in fishing license holders and a notable increase in trout anglers, accounting for 32% of all licensed anglers, up from 18.5% in 2014. The 29% rise in the cost of living since 2014 may have also contributed to increased equipment and trip-related expenditures.

Doug Besler, NCWRC Mountain Region Fisheries Supervisor, stressed the importance of understanding public perceptions and expenditures on trout fishing. He highlighted the surveys as a means to assign economic value to managed resources, informing program focus and infrastructure investments. The Public Mountain Trout Water program (PMTW), covering 5,400 miles and 2,600 acres of trout waters in 26 western counties, received $20 million from the N.C. General Assembly for the renovation and expansion of the Bobby N. Setzer State Fish Hatchery. The hatchery plays a crucial role in stocking approximately one million brook, rainbow, and brown trout annually.

Besler further highlighted the PMTW program’s extensive responsibilities, including managing wild trout populations, native brook trout conservation, aquatic organism passage, stream habitat projects, partnerships, and aquatic nuisance species management. The program is pivotal not only for trout enthusiasts but also for the communities benefiting from its potential advantages.

Image/Source: NCWildlife