By Nathan Ham
Hatchery-supported trout waters in North Carolina officially opened on Saturday as anglers had a beautiful opening day of the season all across the western part of the state.
With the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic in full swing, the North Carolina Wildlife Commission is asking anyone that is out fishing to remember the proper social distancing protocols while they are out on the water. All anglers should maintain six feet between themselves.
Hatchery Supported Trout Waters, which are marked by green-and-white signs, have been closed since Feb. 29 so that Commission staff can stock the waters with trout. Staff will continue to stock certain streams through August. Staff will stock many of these waters monthly, although they will stock some heavily fished waters more frequently. Over the six months, staff will stock nearly 767,000 trout — 96 percent of which will average 10 inches in length, with the other 4 percent exceeding 14 inches in length.
As a reminder, anglers can harvest a maximum of seven trout per day, with no minimum size limits or bait restrictions.
Hatchery Supported Trout Waters are open to public fishing; however, many of those miles are privately owned so the Commission urges anglers to respect the property they are fishing on and remember that landowners can take away access if they feel their property is being misused.
Anglers can help prevent the loss of public access to fishing by:
- Respecting private property and landowners at all times;
- Removing all trash and litter from fishing and parking areas;
- Parking only in designated areas and leaving driveways open for traffic;
- Closing and/or locking gates after use; and,
- Reporting wildlife violations by calling 1-800-662-7137.