Speckled trout season has reopened in North Carolina waters

By on June 15, 2018

Spotted seatrout are more commonly known as speckled trout or specks. (NCSU)

The speckled trout fishing season reopened in North Carolina waters on Friday, after being closed since the first week of January due to widespread cold stun events.

The recreational bag limit will be four-fish per person per day, and the minimum size limit will be 14 inches total length.

All undersized or over the daily harvest limit spotted seastrout caught must be immediately returned to the waters where taken, regardless of the condition of the fish.

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The commercial size limit is 14 inches total length, as well, but the commercial harvest limits and fishing days differ by water body and gear type.

The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries closed all coastal and joint waters to commercial and recreational spotted seatrout harvest on Jan. 5 due to the 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.

During a cold stun, many fish die from the cold or fall prey to birds and other predators. Studies suggest that cold stun events can have a significant impact on spotted seatrout populations.

Under the N.C. Spotted Seatrout Fishery Management Plan, if a significant cold stun event occurs, the Division of Marine Fisheries closes all spotted seatrout harvests until June 15 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.

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The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission automatically closes spotted seatrout season in inland waters when it closes in adjacent coastal waters, and the inland waters season will also reopen Friday.

More information on cold stun events can be found on the Division of Marine Fisheries website.

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