Carolina angler first to reach 11-Mile Challenge milestone

Paul Scheponik of Winston-Salem caught this great rainbow trout during an April trip to the special trophy trout section of the Ravens Fork. (Photo courtesy of Paul Scheponik)


By Mark Taylor

The 11-Mile Challenge has its first 11-miler.

Paul Scheponik of Winston-Salem sent in his log sheet earlier today, reporting that he knocked out his 11 miles in 10 trips since early April.

The trips ranged from a short one of just a third of a mile to a long of 1.98 miles on the Mitchell River near Dobson just a few days ago. The latter trip took eight hours.

Scheponik didn’t count miles he put in during a trip to Pennsylvania, though we wouldn’t have had a problem with it as, as we’ve said all along, this is a fun and informal challenge.

In all, Scheponik spent 66.5 hours fishing to accomplish the total. Anyone who fishes nearly 70 hours in two months deserves to connect with an impressive beast such as the rainbow Scheponik is holding above.

About 40 folks have registered for the 11-Mile Challenge, which the TU Southeast Conservation team came up with as a way to bring awareness to its work this year to reconnect 11 stream miles in the Southern Appalachians, primarily through the replacement of perched culverts that block upstream movement of fish and other aquatic organisms.

There’s still time to register, and to tally miles fished since April 1. Participants who actively participate by sending in reports and photos -- which we'll feature on the TU Southeast Conservation Facebook page and Twitter feed -- will be eligible for prizes, which will be awarded throughout the year to randomly selected anglers.

Reaching 11 miles doesn’t have to mean quitting.

Scheponik has no such plans.

“The list,” he says, “will be quite a bit longer by December.”


Mark Taylor is the eastern communications director for Trout Unlimited. He lives and works in Roanoke, Va.



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