TODD, N.C. - In 2006, Kelly McCoy relocated from Florida to the NC High Country and opened a small fishing shop.
Eight years and one pig later, McCoy's little fishing shop - River Girl Fishing Company - has grown into a full-service outfitter. It offers everything from fishing lessons and guide trips to kayaking and inner tubing, as well as eco-tours and mountain biking excursions.
And, some are drawn to this outfitter in the former Todd train depot just to see Petunia, a spur-of-the-moment purchase in 2007 that has paid pig dividends.
" I had a pig growing up and thought it would be cute to have one at the shop. I didn't realize what a marketing tool I had acquired when I purchased Petunia for $50," says McCoy. "She has her own Facebook page and people come just to meet her. She's become an attraction."
McCoy launched her fishing shop in a small space above the Todd Bakery. In early 2007, an outfitter vacated the old train depot and McCoy moved locations.
At the new spot, she received requests for more than just fishing lessons and dry flies.
"Every other person would come in would ask, 'can we rent a kayak?' or 'can we rent an inner tube?' " McCoy recalls. "Here we are seven years later and we keep about 50 boats and more than 100 inner tubes. We even have 10 bicycles for a railroad grade road that runs from Todd down to Fleetwood - it's about 11 miles along the river."
McCoy's previous career was as a fisheries biologist, a field she studied at Mississippi State University. Thus, she remains dedicated to that aspect of the business, even though fishing has been supplanted by tubing as the largest segment of her business.
"People come for the fishing, they come for the kayaking, the canoeing, the tubing and the biking. We handle it all," she says. "I still do the fly-fishing guiding and I've incorporated eco-tours into the business. That way I'm keeping true to what I went to school for."
River Girl's season runs from the beginning of April through the end of October. During that time, the shop is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week.
Fly-fishing lessons are $75 for three hours; tubing rates range from $15 to $20; kayaking rates are $35-$45; and bike rentals start at $15 for an hour and range up to $35 for a full day.
For more info, call (336) 877-3099 or visit: www.RiverGirlFishing.com.