Friday, January 25, 2008

NC Trout Stocking for 2008 to be "Compressed"

RALEIGH, N.C. (Jan. 24, 2008) - In response to drought conditions forecasted for this spring and summer, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will compress its trout stocking schedule for 2008, stocking the majority of fish in March, April and May, and limited numbers of trout stocked in June and July.

During a year with normal precipitation and weather conditions, Commission personnel stock trout throughout the summer and fall. However, Commission biologists determined that a compressed stocking schedule would help minimize the continuing drought’s impact on hatchery fish, particularly the fish that are now being grown out for stocking in 2009.

In addition to helping protect the 2009 fish, the compressed schedule will ensure that the majority of this year’s fish are stocked when stream conditions are more favorable than they would be later in the summer when water temperatures typically are higher and flows lower.
“With much of North Carolina in an exceptional drought and drought conditions forecasted into the summer, the aquatic habitat and environmental conditions for hatchery-trout production likely will continue to decline,” said Kyle Briggs, statewide hatchery production coordinator for the Commission. “However, we have every intention of stocking all of the trout scheduled for release in 2008 and will continue to target the normal sizes for those trout being stocked.”
“By removing a high proportion of the trout scheduled to be stocked this year before July, we can maximize the water and space we’ll need to produce the trout for the 2009 season,” Briggs said. “Given the anticipated drought conditions, this is a proactive, rational and equitable plan to address our trout production and stocking program for the next two years.”

Briggs doesn’t want to see a repeat of the fish kill at Armstrong last August when more than 103,000 brown and rainbow trout, the majority of which were schedule for stocking in 2008, succumbed to too much heat and too little rain.

While the Commission’s other two cold-water hatcheries produced enough trout to make up for the loss at Armstrong, Briggs doubts that could be accomplished again this year, particularly if there is no significant rainfall between now and the summer.

“Without this compression schedule, we could stand to lose substantially more fish than we lost in 2007,” Briggs said. “A loss of this magnitude would seriously impact both 2008 and 2009 seasons, and we would not be able make up that number of fish from other hatcheries.”

The compressed stocking schedule should not affect anglers fishing in delayed-harvest waters, as enough fish will be retained for stocking in these waters in October and November. Likewise, anglers fishing in hatchery-supported waters shouldn’t notice any effects of the compressed schedule. According to a trout-angler survey conducted by the Commission last spring, hatchery-supported anglers spend a majority of their time (75 percent) fishing during the spring when the stockings will be at their peak.

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