The 44th annual Blowing Rock Trout Derby will take place in Blowing Rock on Saturday, April 6, from sunrise to 4:00pm.  Celebrating the opening of trout season, the Blowing Rock Trout Derby invites families to get out together to enjoy the outdoors and friendly competition. No entry fees are required.

Fishing enthusiasts of all ages are encouraged to come out for the 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,” says Kim Rogers, a longtime coordinator of the Trout Derby. “We can’t wait to see everyone’s catch!”

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 6, 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 an official tape measure before heading out to fish. Registration begins at 7am. 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.

Participants will find the Derby Headquarters in a new location this year: at the picnic area at the Robbins Pool. Headquarters is where participants bring fish to be measured and registered and where folks register for the Catch and Release category. Steps from Headquarters, children 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!

Kids should also 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. The 2024 poster and t-shirt features art by McLean Miller. Kids are invited to participate in the 2024 Art Contest; all supplies are provided! Families will want to head over to Speckled Trout Outfitters on Main Street to take part in the Art Contest.

There’s more Trout Derby fun to enjoy at Speckled Trout Outfitters! They will be hosting activities in the outdoor space 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 a few local breweries. Hula hoops and rods will be set out for anyone seeking to learn how to cast a fly rod! All activities, including the Art Contest area, begin at 10am.

“Throughout the day, The Speckled Trout Outfitters will be hosting tents of some of our brands and breweries. One of our experienced guides will be available 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!”

Competition entries are accepted at Headquarters until 4pm. Entries are divided into three groups: Ages 16+, Ages 12-15, and Small Fry (ages 11 and under). 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 in both competition categories will receive trophies. Great prizes for first-, second-, and third-place winners in both competitions 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.

This year’s Derby is in memory of Earl Trexler, one of the founders of the Blowing Rock Trout Derby. “He participated for 43 years in all kinds of ways,” says Kim. “From hosting the event for many years at his hardware store and raising awareness and funds for the Derby, to offering sage advice to beginner fisherman and sharing fantastic catch & release stories of the ones he put back so they could grow a little bigger! He was an incredible fly tyer and could be heard saying ‘Don’t forget to match the hatch!’”

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 .

For more information on local shopping, attractions, and lodging in Blowing Rock, browse this site or contact the information center at 828.295.4636.