The original timeline had been pretty ambitious, the project’s self-described instigator, Alen Baker, said last fall. The group just needed more time to get exhibits in place before opening day.
The museum will showcase fly-fishing stories, equipment and fishing arts from the Southern Appalachian region. The project is a collaboration by a diverse group of anglers as well as the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, which is providing the building.
The hope is that the museum will serve as a draw for tourists and fishermen. Proponents hope anglers will extend their trips to WNC to take in the museum and maybe bring the family along. Tribal members see it as a way to showcase the fish-related aspects of their culture while welcoming tourists to town.
“To be able to add a new attraction that would have the idea of representing culture, plus tie in modern-day fishing and fly fishing,” said Skooter McCoy, the tribe’s destination market manager, “we felt like it was a win-win situation.”
Fly-fishing is a growing sport nationwide and in North Carolina, with anglers describing WNC as a “Mecca” for the sport. Between 2002 and 2012, North Carolina fly-fishing license sales increased 175 percent, with fly-related sales in the South rising from 16.3 percent of the national total to 23.7 percent, according to the American Fly-Fishing Trade Organization.
The tribe’s chamber of commerce will also operate the musuem and be housed in the same building, located on Tsali Boulevard.
— By staff writer Holly Kays