Bryan Plemmons began his farming career as a twelve year old working in tobacco fields in North Carolina making 25 cents an hour and $2 a day. He loved marine biology and in college pursued this interest, graduating with a B.S. degree in the field from UNC-Wilmington. He discovered he could combine his farming past with underwater life through aquaculture work and went on to achieve a Master’s Degree in Fisheries and Wildlife Science from Louisiana State University.
Plemmons now has 35 years of experience managing fish farms in four different states, raising everything from catfish to tilapia to trout. In 1982, he purchased and managed Casta Line Trout Farms in Goshen, Virginia and in 2004, he acquired the Virginia Trout Company as a way to broaden his market base and add processed trout to his product line-up. Though Plemmons is fairly new to the Virginia Trout Company, the Company itself was established in 1961.
The main hatchery of Virginia Trout Company is located 6 miles north of the town of Monterey on US 220 and an additional grow-out hatchery is just a few miles south of Monterey. The location is ideal for raising trout. According to Plemmons, Highland’s “climate is perfect for trout rearing.” Cold, pristine spring water originating on site flows through the pools year round. The trout is raised without the use of supplemental hormones or antibiotics. Every three months, the Company begins a new hatch of rainbow trout eggs, shepherding the fish through larger and larger tanks until they are moved outdoors. Through this, the company has practically complete control of the trout’s environment from its life until the time it is processed or sold for live-stocking.
Processed, frozen trout is available at the Virginia Trout Company and visitors are also welcome to catch the fish themselves. “There’s nothing like watching a kid pull out their first fish!” Plemmons grins.
If you can’t make it out to the farm, trout is available at the Highland Farmers’ Market and is often featured in local restaurants.