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Rainbow trout serve as swimming cash for Tennessee

Published: May. 16, 2017 at 5:13 PM EDT
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Think of trout in Tennessee as swimming cash.

First, it costs money to put enough of them in our water to make fishing trips worthwhile.

Then, there's enough of those trips to make Rainbows the pot of gold. As in Rainbow Trout, a fish not native to East Tennessee, but the trout most often caught here.

To stock 2.5 million trout a year in cold water spots in Tennessee, mostly in East Tennessee, the state spends $1.1 million. That's right, over a million dollars a year just to raise trout. 14 people have full time, year round jobs raising the fish until they grow to about a foot in length, long enough to be a hefty catch and good eating size.

Now let's get to the pot of gold part. The state more than makes it's money back.

In order to legally fish for trout in stocked Tennessee water, people need to buy a $34 fishing license and a $21 trout stamp. Some places charge extra fees on top of that money.

105,000 people buy trout stamps each year. The state has easily doubled its investment. That's $2.2 million a year just from trout stamps.

Hundreds of fishing guides and business owners make a living off trout.

Add out-of-towners buying bait and tackle, gas, meals and hotels, and these trout become trophies. Each year the state estimates it makes $53 million off trout fishing.

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