The 43rd annual Blowing Rock Trout Derby will take place in Blowing Rock on Saturday, April 1, from sunrise to 4:00pm. No entry fees are required for this family-friendly event.
The Blowing Rock Trout Derby has celebrated the opening of trout season for over four decades, encouraging families to get out together to enjoy the outdoors and friendly competition. The casual nature of the Derby makes participation fun, and there are two ways to join in! For the Classic Tournament, simply catch a trout in Watauga County on April 1, and bring it to Blowing Rock to measure and enter it into the contest. No pre-registration is required for the Classic Tournament. The Catch and Release category, coordinated by Speckled Trout Outfitters, offers a more eco-conscious approach and a wider eligible area for fishing. Catch and Release participants must pick up the official tape measure before heading out to fish. Timestamped photos of trout caught in Watauga, Ashe, and Avery counties, with size shown by the official tape measure, are eligible for entry into the Catch and Release division.
“We love to meet first timers and hear all about everyone’s fishing adventures,” says Kim Rogers, a longtime coordinator of the Trout Derby. “If you’re a seasoned fisherman, come by and help some of the younger anglers with your stories, bait suggestions, or just friendly support. We can’t wait to see your catch!”
Derby Headquarters, where participants’ fish are measured and registered and where folks register for the Catch and Release category, is at the Blowing Rock Clubhouse at 108 Lakeside Drive. Kids should come by the Derby Headquarters early in the day to grab their free Derby bag and t-shirt before they run out! The North Carolina Wildlife Commission supports the Trout Derby with free “Fish for Fun” bags, including a tackle box, regulation book, bumper sticker, stringer, and bobber. The Trout Derby T-shirts commemorate the event and feature art from last year’s Art Contest winner. While kids are at Headquarters, they can participate in the Art Contest; all supplies are provided! The 2023 poster and t-shirt features art by Caleb Mott. Steps from Headquarters, kids are invited to fish in the lake at Broyhill Park. The lake is stocked in the days ahead of the event, and some of the fish are tagged for special prizes!
New this year, Speckled Trout Outfitters will host fun Trout Derby activities outdoors between the Outfitters shop and the Speckled Trout Restaurant & Bottle Shop on Main Street. The Watauga Riverkeeper is partnering with this event and will have a tent set up, along with other sponsors and local breweries. Hula hoops and rods will be set out for anyone seeking to learn how to cast a fly rod! Activities begin at 10am.
“Throughout the day, The Speckled Trout Outfitters will be hosting tents of some of our brands, breweries, and one of our experienced guides to educate anybody on casting and fly fishing tactics in our shared lot with the Speckled Trout Restaurant,” says Joel Brown of Speckled Trout Outfitters. “We will be a hub for all of your last minute fly and conventional needs inside our shop, or take a break over a beer!”
Also new in 2023, the Awards Ceremony for both competition categories will be presented at Speckled Trout Outfitters. Winners and prizes will be announced starting at 4:30pm. First-place winners will receive trophies in five divisions: Men, Women, Girls and Boys (12-15), and Small Fries (11 and under). Great prizes for all winners include items like fishing and outdoor gear, gift certificates, and cash.
There is plenty of free parking available at Broyhill Park, just off Clark Street, by the Derby Headquarters and kid’s fishing. Fishing licenses are not required at Broyhill Park, but anglers will need to have a current fishing license and obey posted fishing regulations in all other locations.
The Blowing Rock Trout Derby is sponsored and supported by over two dozen local businesses and organizations. Complete details on the Trout Derby can be found at BlowingRock.com/TroutDerby .