Other Swannanoa News

Free Loaner Rods and Reels Available at Owen Park

Let’s Go Fishing!

Thanks to a partnership between the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and the Buncombe County Parks, Greenways and Recreation Department, anglers of all ages will now be able to borrow a rod and reel and enjoy a morning or afternoon of fishing at Owen Park. The park, located at 875 Warren Wilson College Road, recently joined the NC Wildlife Resources Commission’s Tackle Loaner Program, which provides loaner rods and reels, free of charge, on a first-come, first-serve basis. The loaner program will start on Saturday, April 13 and run every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., until Sunday, June 30.

The program works like a library. Anglers register at the 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, 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.

Jay Nelson of Buncombe County Parks, Greenways and Recreation, and manager of Owen Park is enthusiastic about the new program. “Fishing is a great way to get kids outside,” says Nelson. “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.”

Owen Park is also a Community Fishing Program site. In 2011, staff from Buncombe County and the Wildlife Resources Commission constructed 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, which provides good trout fishing opportunities as well.

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 should make sure 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.

Volunteers are needed to help with the loaner rod and reel program. For more information about volunteer needs and opportunities, please contact Jay Nelson at 250-4269 or