It’s all about that Zen moment.
“For me, it’s the peace and quiet of it,” said Jeff Curtis. “It’s so consuming. When I’m fly fishing, I’m not thinking about anything else. You become so absorbed with it that you forget about everything else—work, daily life, stress.”
A lifelong fly fisherman, Curtis is the founder/owner of Curtis Wright Outfitters, which has locations in Asheville at Biltmore Village and on Main Street in Weaverville.
“In Western North Carolina, we have such an incredibly beautiful backyard to play in,” he said. “There are so many opportunities: fly fishing, hiking, mountain biking, and rock climbing—it’s all here.”
Born in Ohio but raised in Florida, Curtis first came to Western North Carolina as a teenager, staying with his family at a summer home. His father befriended a ranger on the Blue Ridge Parkway who had a son close the same age as Curtis.
“It was this small creek, and I can still remember it clearly,” Curtis said. “Learning how to cast and trying to catch that rainbow trout.”
“Whether you catch something or not, you’re standing in a creek, in the mountains, away from it all—what more do you want?”
—Jeff Curtis, Curtis Wright Outfitters
For the better part of the last 30 years, Curtis has called Western North Carolina home. It’s a place that is not only close to his heart, it’s also the ideal platform to let his dreams blossom and grow.
“I like that we’re a local business and not a chain. It can be hard to be the little guy, especially when you have these big conglomerate outdoor stores,” Curtis said. “But, we’ve always focused on what we need to do better, and how to cherish those relationships with our long-time and first-time customers. We worry only about our four walls and how to have smart growth.”
Amid the fly fishing meccas of the United States—Jackson Hole, Lake Placid, Missoula—Asheville has remained a beacon of the sport for enthusiasts in Western North Carolina and greater Southern Appalachia.
“People might try to argue we don’t have fishing like they have out west,” Curtis said. “But out west, they don’t have what we have out here, which is warm water and cold water species, and year-round fishing—it’s wonderful.”
Curtis noted the unique and important traits of why and how fly fishing has become such a resource and sought-after outdoor recreational activity in these parts.
“It’s the delayed harvest and the hatchery support, which are some of the most successful programs of their kind out there,” he said. “It’s the wild waters and the solitude of the rivers, where you won’t see another person all day long as you’re rock hopping up these riverbanks and creeks.”
Though Curtis has been a fly fisherman for the majority of his life, he emphasizes the idea that the sport itself takes “a day to learn, a lifetime to master.”
“Fly fishing isn’t as complicated as we fly fisherman like to make you think it is. There’s no secret handshake—it’s fishing, it is just fishing,” he smiled. “And the great thing about it is that trout don’t live in ugly places. What we do here is try to take the complication out of it. So, take it a step at a time. Don’t get overwhelmed by all the stuff we have here in the store. Go enjoy the beautiful places. Whether you catch something or not, you’re standing in a creek, in the mountains, away from it all—what more do you want?”
Western North Carolina is home to some of the finest fly fishing in the country.
JACKSON COUNTY TOURISM AND DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY PHOTO