Kelly McCoy, owner and creator of RiverGirl Fishing in Todd, North Carolina, is one of the biggest fans of the New River Conservancy. She is steadfast in her support to clean water, raise funds and come up with ways to get new supporters for the cause. Thus far this year she has donated her time, energy and boats towards several NRC fundraisers, and another one – the T.I.M.E Dinner and Auction with her partner – coming up this month. We wanted you to get to know this amazing human a little better, so sat down with her for a bit of a chat.
We all have a story about the New River and how we fell in love with it. Can you tell me yours? Or how you fell in love with fishing?
I fell in love with fish AND fishing at an early age growing up in NE Alabama. My Dad was a bass tournament fisherman and would take my brother and I fishing while he was scoping out new fishing areas. If we were quiet while he fished, we got to ski afterwards behind the boat!
When I was 13, I had 15 fish tanks in my room with also having a waterbed. My father said that if I added one more tank I might fall into the basement! I didn’t though luckily!
I ended up going into aquaculture in community college and then took an internship in Mississippi to graduate. I finished there and went to Mississippi State University to get a fisheries science degree. Left there in 2000 and worked as Marine Biologist in Florida till 2005.
I had vacationed up to Boone around 2003 and I absolutely fell in love with the South Fork of the New River! I sold my house in Florida and moved up to Todd in 2005. It was magical!
I couldn’t find a job doing fisheries work, so I started ‘Rivergirl Fishing Co’ in 2006. Here we are 17 years later and it’s like a dream where I have to pinch myself because I get to work on this beautiful resource every day!
I have read that your way of giving back to the river is cleaning it. Trashy Tuesdays is such a fantastic idea and event. Do you still offer a free trip to trash cleaners on Trashy Tuesdays?
Absolutely. We are downstream of a college town and unfortunately any trash that gets loose will eventually end up in the river, being that it’s the lowest point up here in the mountains. Also, with the folks we and other outfitters put on the water for kayaking or tubing end up losing things. It seems only fair to the river to give back to her for what she gives us!
How did you hear about the New River Conservancy?
If I remember correctly, I believe NRC contacted me back in the day to help with water quality monitoring. I used to help with that program, but then we got soooo busy!! I really miss George, [Santucci] Chelsea [Blount] and Lynn [Caldwell] being there, but I love the new faces of NRC too!
Why do you help out the NRC as much as you do?
I believe in the mission of NRC and believe in helping where we can especially if it benefits the river!
What does the future look like for RiverGirl Fishing on the New River?
We are currently working on turning the old train depot in Todd into a museum for Todd and the South Fork of the New River. We have lots of fish tanks, some with trout, some with turtles and other fish species. Our goal is to educate about the history of our little village of Todd and the inhabitants of the River.
Anything else you would like our members to know?
We’d love to see you out in Todd soon! Best fishes!