on Jun 12, 2012 09:38 AM • Views 3550
Media Contact: Jodie B. Owen

SWANNANOA, N.C. (June 12, 2012) — Anglers visiting Charles Owen Park who want to fish but lack the necessary equipment now can fish without purchasing a rod and reel, thanks to a partnership between the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and the Buncombe County Parks, Greenways and Recreation Department.

Charles Owen Park, located at 875 Warren Wilson Road, recently joined the Commission’s Tackle Loaner Program, which provides loaner rods and reels free of charge to anglers of all ages, on a first-come, first-serve basis.

The program works like a library. Anglers can register at Charles Owen Park to receive a tackle-loaner identification card that lets them check out one of 26 rod and reels for the day. While the program is geared toward children under 16, anyone interested in fishing can participate. Anglers under 16 must have a parent or guardian complete the registration form. 

After returning the loaner rod and reel to the park office, first-time participants under 16 receive a free mini-tackle box with lures, hooks, sinkers, bobbers and a fish stringer. Anglers can use the tackle loaner identification cards at any Tackle Loaner Program site in North Carolina, but they must return the rods and reels to the original loaner site.

“Fishing is a great way to get kids outside,” said Jay Nelson, Charles Owen Park manager. “This is an opportunity for parents to introduce their children to an outdoor skill they can use for a lifetime.

“I’m also excited about involving the community as volunteers at the park. My hope is that experienced fishermen can mentor the young anglers.”

In 2011, Buncombe County and the Commission partnered to construct a universally accessible fishing pier on the largest of the two ponds in the park, installed a solar-powered fish feeder near the pier, and built a handicapped-accessible approach sidewalk that complies with Americans with Disability Act guidelines.

The park’s two lakes are popular fishing spots for local anglers, containing good populations of largemouth bass, crappie and bluegill. The Swannanoa River flows next to the lakes, providing good trout fishing opportunities as well.

The Swannanoa River is a hatchery-supported river, and the two lakes are open for bank fishing. Anglers ages 16 and over must have a valid North Carolina fishing license to fish the park’s two lakes. To fish the Swannanoa River, anglers 16 and older should make sure that their license includes the trout fishing privilege. All hatchery-supported waters, including the Swannanoa River, are closed to fishing from the last day in February until the first Saturday in April. The park’s lakes are open year-round.

The Commission works with more than 45 Tackle Loaner Program sites throughout the state. Program expenses are cost-shared with local cooperators, with the Commission providing 75 percent of the operating funds through the Sport Fish Restoration Program, and local cooperators paying the remaining 25 percent.

For more information on the Commission’s Tackle Loaner Program or fishing in public, inland waters, visit the fishing page.