MOREHEAD CITY – No cold stun events have been reported for spotted seatrout this year, but conditions are such that one or more could occur in coastal creeks and bays.
Anyone seeing a trout cold stun event should report it to the N.C. Marine Patrol at 1-800-682-2632 or to N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries spotted seatrout biologist Steve Poland at 252-808-8159 or Steve.Poland@ncdenr.gov. A picture is worth a thousand words. If you have one of the cold stun event, send it.
During the winter, spotted seatrout move to deeper, warmer waters in coastal creeks, bays and ocean. Cold stuns occur when there is a sudden drop in water temperature or prolonged periods of cold weather that makes the fish so sluggish that humans can harvest them with their hands.
Many fish may die from the cold. Others fall prey to birds and other predators. Studies suggest that cold stun events can have a significant impact on spotted seatrout populations, however, many cold stunned fish may survive if left alone.
Under the N.C. Spotted Seatrout Fishery Management Plan, if a significant cold stun event occurs in at least four coastal counties, the state Division of Marine Fisheries will close all spotted seatrout harvest until June 15. A significant cold stun event may be defined based on the numbers of fish and/or the size classes of fish involved. The intent of the closure is to allow the fish that survive the cold stun event the chance to spawn in the spring before harvest reopens. Peak spawning occurs in May and June.
Under N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission rules, the spotted seatrout season automatically closes in inland waters when it closes in adjacent coastal waters.
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