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BREVARD, N.C. (Sept. 8) — He came, he saw, he restored the trout hatcheries. And now Wildlife Commissioner Bobby Setzer has a trout hatchery named for him.
Setzer, a 12-year member of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, was honored during a recent commissioners meeting at the newly renamed Bobby N. Setzer State Fish Hatchery near Brevard. The hatchery is one of several across the state where the Wildlife Commission raises stockable-sized fish from eggs.
An avid trout fisherman since his childhood in Haywood County, Setzer was appointed to the Wildlife Commission in 1993 by Gov. Jim Hunt. He immediately set to work upgrading the Commission’s four trout hatcheries.
“They were in bad shape,” Setzer, 72, recalled. As chairman of the Commission’s Coldwater Fisheries Committee, he made restoration of the hatcheries a top priority.
“It didn’t take me long to find out we have a competent staff,” he said. “Instead of me telling them what to do, I listened to them tell me what they needed. Then I went to bat for them to get what they needed.”
From 1992 to 2004, the Commission spent more than $2 million to renovate its trout hatcheries. Production of catchable-sized trout increased 19 percent over that period, from around 640,000 to 764,000 fish annually. Average size of those hatchery-raised trout also rose 19 percent, from 9.16 inches to 10.86 inches. Stocked trout enrich the fishing in 188 rivers and streams across western North Carolina.
Wildlife Commissioners Chairman John Pechmann, presiding over the hatchery renaming ceremony, praised Setzer’s dedication to ensuring that the state’s trout fisheries remain a valuable natural resource to be enjoyed for generations. Pechmann compared him to another state treasure, North Carolina’s only native trout species: “Like the brook trout, Bobby is a native son of the mountains.”
Honors are nothing new to Setzer, who left the Commission this spring after two six-year terms. The former football coach and athletics director at Western Carolina University is a professor emeritus in WCU’s School of Technology and Applied Science. He has been recognized for his conservation work by the N.C. Bowhunters Association, the Southern Appalachian Multiple Use Council and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Earlier this year, he was awarded the Order of the Longleaf Pine by Gov. Michael Easley.
Wildlife Commissioner Gene Price said that Setzer deserves a more immutable tribute. “In the passing parade of public awareness, these are brief glimpses, soon forgotten. Bobby Setzer deserves something far more publicly lasting,” Price said.
As a plaque set into stone was unveiled before the hatchery, Setzer proclaimed himself “overwhelmed.” Accompanied by his wife, Anne, he thanked the Wildlife Commission for “a great day for me and my family.”
The Bobby N. Setzer State Fish Hatchery adjoins the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education outside Brevard. The facility is open seven days a week, offering family-friendly educational exhibits about mountain wildlife, habitats and waters. For more information, log onto www.ncwildlife.org, or call (828) 877-4423.
 
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