WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — As of Friday, anglers are no longer allowed to fish for spotted seatrout, also known as speckled trout, for the next several months.
Due to the impact of the cold weather, the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries issued proclamation FF-1-2018, which will keep commercial and recreational anglers from fishing for spotted seatrout until late spring. The spotted seatrout fishery will reopen June 15 by proclamation.
NCDMF says cold stuns are natural events that occur when there is a sudden drop in water temperature or prolonged periods of cold weather that makes the fish sluggish. Many fish will 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.
The division has confirmed significant spotted seatrout cold stun events in six water bodies from Surf City to Manteo. The division is still receiving and verifying more cold stun reports and collecting associated environmental data. These efforts will continue regardless of the closure so that the division may evaluate the magnitude of the cold stun event for use in future stock assessments.
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.
Commercial seafood dealers have until Friday, Jan. 12 to dispose of unfrozen spotted seatrout in their possession that was caught prior to the closure.