Don Mallicoat

Time to think about trout

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By Don Mallicoat –

It’s hard to believe March is nearly over. There are two opening days on April 6th, Hatchery-Supported Trout waters and Youth Turkey. Let’s look at the most popular, trout waters. The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will open approximately 1,100 miles of Hatchery-Supported Trout Waters in 25 western counties at 7 a.m. on April 6. The season will run through Feb. 28, 2014. While fishing on Hatchery-Supported Trout Waters, anglers can harvest a maximum of seven trout per day, with no minimum size limits or bait restrictions.

Hatchery-Supported Trout Waters, marked by green-and-white signs, are stocked from March until August every year, depending on the individual stream. A list of numbers and species stocked by month and county can be found on the Commission’s website, www.ncwildlife.org. Many of these waters are stocked monthly, although some heavily fished waters are stocked more frequently.

Commission personnel will stock nearly 894,000 trout, with 96 percent of the stocked fish averaging 10 inches in length and the other fish exceeding 14 inches. Stocked trout are produced primarily in two mountain region fish hatcheries operated by the Commission and are distributed along hatchery-supported streams where public access for fishing is available. While Hatchery-Supported Trout Waters are open to public fishing, many of those miles are privately owned.

“Opportunities to fish on many of these hatchery-supported trout streams are only available through the support and generosity of landowners,” said David Deaton, fish production supervisor for the Wildlife Commission. “It’s important for anglers to respect the property that they’re fishing on and remember that landowners can take away access if they feel their property is being misused.”

Deaton said that 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 pass-through traffic; Closing and/or locking gates after use; and reporting wildlife violations by calling 1-800-662-7137.

For a complete list of all Hatchery-Supported Trout Waters as well as trout maps and weekly stocking summaries on Hatchery-Supported Trout Waters, visit the Commission’s trout fishing page on their website. Weekly stocking information appears online for seven days, and updates are posted on Fridays after fish are stocked.

That same weekend of the Hatchery-Supported waters opening, there is a great opportunity for the ladies wanting to get started fly-fishing. The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will offer a three-day fly-fishing weekend for women on April 5-7 through the Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW) program. Activities will be held at the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education and Davidson River Campground, south of Asheville near Brevard, in Transylvania County. The registration fee is $125, but partial scholarships in amounts up to $90 are available.

BB Gillen, outdoor skills coordinator for the Wildlife Commission says, “This weekend is tailored for individuals, so each angler will gain new skills, improve techniques, and learn about the important role of anglers in conservation of mountain streams.”

Fly-fishing equipment will be provided, but participants can bring their own gear. The workshop will be held rain or shine, so bring sunscreen and rain gear. Other needed items include appropriate outdoor clothes, a sturdy hat and water bottle. Camping is optional, with other lodging opportunities located nearby. The one-on-one instruction includes: Fly casting, fly tying, stream ecology, knot tying, and basic equipment. On the final day, participants will practice their new skills in a guided fly fishing experience on prime trout waters. For more information on the three-day fly-fishing weekend, scholarship opportunities and gift certificates, contact Gillen at 919-218-3638 or bb.gillen@ncwildlife.org.

I was glad to see and hear that numerous hunters attended the public meetings held by the U.S. Forest Service as part of their assessment phase for the forest plan. From what I gather, about half of the people who attended the meeting for the Pisgah District in Brevard were hunters who let it be known that they wanted the forests managed for wildlife habitat to increase not only their hunting opportunities but also those of their children and grandchildren. The battle is not yet over though. There is still a public comment period going on. More details on that in a later column.

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