What’s Up: Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Trail

Shannon Messer


The Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Trail—the nation’s first such trail—will be discussed on Thursday, Sept. 14, by one of its founders, Shannon Messer, at a free, public meeting of the Clinch River Chapter, Trout Unlimited.

The program starts at 7 p.m. in the parish hall at St. Francis Episcopal Church, 158 W. Norris Road, Norris.

The fly fishing trail in Jackson County, NC, is said to feature some of the best trout waters in the Great Smoky Mountains. It includes 15 exceptional locations for catching brook, brown and rainbow trout. Whether fly anglers are aiming for quantities or size of trout in open waters or small streams, the trail offers it all.

Messer, a native of Western North Carolina, grew up fishing the Cataloochee Valley and learned fly tying from Charles “Charlie Bear” Messer of Fines Creek, NC.

Shannon Messer is known for his dedication to the art of fly fishing while incorporating old Appalachia style fly patterns. He was recently featured on the Fox Sports show Anglers & Appetites for his fly tying skills. He not only enjoys fishing the Great Smoky Mountains, but also tying the flies, teaching others about entomology and generally sharing his passion for catching those temperamental mountain trout.

He pays close attention to water levels, water temperatures and the ever-changing insect life on the streams. He knows just which fly to use for the conditions around him, and teaches proper casting techniques while assisting with fly presentation for just the right catch—then using the catch-and-release methods that are safest for the trout.

Messer is also dedicated to keeping teen anglers interested, teaching them how to tie flies and spending time with them on the creek or river—even starting a fly tying club for teens. He lives in Sylva with his wife and two active sons.