MOUNT AIRY — The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) recently began its annual stocking of trout into area streams, and just in time for the spring fishing season, a new fishing business has emerged in Surry County.
U.S. Master Licensed Captain Kevin Merritt is a veteran fishing guide with more than two decades of experience guiding anglers, tournament fishing and fly fishing instruction. This week marks the launch of Fly Fish Mayberry, a complete fly fishing guide, instruction and outfitting service for beginner and experienced anglers.
“Surry and the surrounding counties are blessed with gorgeous rivers that include brook, rainbow and brown trout,” saidMerritt, who owned and operated a fishing guide service in the Florida Everglades before relocating to Pilot Mountain four months ago. “North Carolina is our home state where we plan to retire and our daughter is attending college in North Carolina, so we are thrilled to be back where we feel most at home.”
Merritt is a certified fly fishing instructor who handcrafts his own custom tackle including tying flies and building rods. He will provide Western fly fishing instruction, which he said is the most recognized version of the sport. But Merritt is especially excited to bring Tenkara fishing to the area which he hopes will demystify fly fishing and open it up to people who have previously been too intimidated to try it.
Merritt will offer individual and group fly casting and fly tying instruction. Because fishing is also a family sport, he believes Tenkara will be particularly well suited for the area, including Mount Airy due to the proximity of the city’s greenway and surrounding waters.
“Tenkara is a centuries old fixed line technique of minimalist fly fishing, developed by commercial fishermen in the high altitude streams of Japan,” Merritt said. “It allows anglers of any skill level including those who have never tried fly fishing to intuitively master the cast within minutes – best of all, you don’t need a ton of expensive gear to enjoy it.”
Merritt said one of his greatest thrills is to watch a new angler grasp intuitive Tenkara casting so quickly, despite never fly fished before.
“Flyfishing is a skill you can take with you almost anywhere once you know the basics,” said Merritt. “We’re offering a master class for all ages and skill levels.”
Merritt’s Fly Fish Mayberry Master Class is a one-hour crash course that goes beyond the cast and catch.
“A day on the water is about catching fish, but it’s also learning about the rivers and fishing at its highest level is an emersion in the environment where you become part of nature, not apart from it,” said Merritt, whose class includes tips on reading the water, insect hatches, weather conditions and casting.
Merritt named his business Fly Fish Mayberry to capitalize on the history of the area. That the iconic opening scene of the Andy Griffith Show features Andy and Opie going fishing isn’t lost on him.
“By its very nature, fishing lends itself to family participation and you’re not limited by size, age or ability – Western fly fishing can appear exclusive and some think of it as a rich man’s sport, plus the amount of time it takes to master,” says Merritt, who has developed a teaching style that makes the sport more accessible.
Merritt will offer group and private fly fishing instruction in both Western and Tenkara fly fishing methods. He plans to guide anglers in Surry, Alleghany, Ashe and Wilkes counties.
For more information, visit www.FlyFishMayberry.com or call 239-821-0239.