The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will open approximately 64 miles of trout streams and two lakes classified as delayed-harvest trout waters under hatchery-supported regulations on this weekend on June 1. From 6 a.m. until 11:59 a.m. on June 1, waters are open only to anglers 15 years old and younger. At noon, waters open to all anglers. Delayed-harvest waters will stay open under hatchery-supported regulations through Sept. 30. During this time, anglers can keep up to seven trout per day — with no bait restrictions or minimum size limits.
The Commission stocks delayed-harvest trout waters from fall through spring with high densities of trout to increase anglers’ chances of catching trout. Once summer arrives, waters become too warm for trout to survive so the Commission opens delayed-harvest streams and lakes to harvest. Delayed-harvest trout waters are posted with diamond-shaped, black-and-white signs. The youth-only fishing time frame on the morning of June 1 — a regulation that went into effect in 2008 — is designed to promote trout fishing among young anglers and to provide special opportunities for young anglers to catch and keep fish.
“The Commission is always looking for ways to encourage kids to get outdoors and on the water to learn new skills, and to develop an appreciation for fishing and our state’s aquatic resources,” said Kyle Briggs, a fisheries program manager for the Commission. “In addition to the youth-only fishing opportunity in delayed-harvest waters, the Commission is also supporting 36 youth-only fishing events throughout the state in late-May and early June as part of National Fishing and Boating Week2013.”
Anglers ages 16 and older need an inland fishing license and a special trout fishing privilege, which is included in the comprehensive and sportsman licenses, to fish in all public mountain trout waters, including delayed-harvest waters.
Since we are discussing things associated with the WRC it is important to note that this past week the NC Senate passed its proposed budget which drastically cuts the money allocated to the WRC budget. The Senate’s 2013 – 2014 budget proposal cuts to the Wildlife Resources Commission budget are staggering and, if enacted, will cut long-standing and important programs of the agency significantly. In previous years the General Assembly has appropriated about $18 million to the Commission to provide services and infrastructure to manage and protect the fish and wildlife resources of the state. This year, the proposal is to appropriate only $9 million to the agency for these activities. This is a cut of about 49%. Hunters and fishermen in NC will certainly miss the fish and wildlife programs and services supported by these cut funds.
The Senate voted on the budget this past week and sent it to the House which will come up with its own budget proposal which will then go to conference committee for a final budget plan. The fish and wildlife management programs and infrastructure of the Wildlife Resources Commissions contribute significantly to the state and local economies. The programs of the agency impact the state in all areas and have been created over the years with receipts collected from hunting and fishing license sales and other receipts from agency programs. Appropriations to the WRC are typically used to support the programs of the agency that benefit all the citizens of the state. It is important to note that revenues from hunting and fishing license sales go directly to the WRC and not into the general state treasury, a fact many outdoorsmen do not know.
The Senate budget cut is accompanied with the implied suggestion that the Commission use the Wildlife Endowment Fund (WEF) to make up the difference. The WEF was created to provide a supplemental source of funding to improve fish and wildlife programs and not to replace traditional sources of financial support from the General Assembly. The WEF has been utilized over the years to keep our fish and wildlife programs efficient and current with such projects as fish hatchery improvement, improvements to law enforcement, and game lands purchases. Hopefully this will be worked out when the House and Senate get together for a final budget plan.
That said, I would suspect that there will be some cut to the WRC budget. Don’t be surprised if you see a slight increase in license fees next year (2014). Personally I’m surprised they haven’t gone up before. We’ve lived in NC for 20 years and the Sportsman’s license has been $40 that entire time. We will keep you posted.