NC Wildlife Update: Spotted Seatrout Closure - Carolina Country
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NC Wildlife Update: Spotted Seatrout Closure

By Mike Zlotnicki

This footage from 2011 shows the effects of a cold stun event on a North Carolina seatrout population. Video: Finished Works, Inc

The NC Division of Marine Fisheries closed all coastal and joint waters to commercial and recreational spotted seatrout harvest on January 5, 2018, due to widespread cold stun events.

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, and the division has confirmed significant spotted seatrout cold stun events in six water bodies from Surf City to Manteo.

If a significant cold stun event occurs, the division will close all spotted seatrout harvests until the spring — the NC Wildlife Resources Commission automatically closes spotted seatrout season in inland waters when it closes in adjacent coastal waters.

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. The spotted seatrout season will remain closed until June 15, 2018, when it will reopen by proclamation.

More specifics about the closure are available online from the Division of Marine Fisheries.

About the Author

Mike Zlotnicki is associate editor at Wildlife in North Carolina magazine. He lives in Garner with his wife, three daughters and two German shorthaired pointers.

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