I am writing this as my opinion of the regulations recently decreed by the NC Division of Marine Fisheries regarding the closure of specked trout possession by sports fishermen until at least June 15, 2011. At first the season was closed due to possible cold weather/water stunning of trout making them easy targets for people to just go out and dip-net them at will—based on anecdotal reports, not good science. And then the closure was extended for the first time in memory to let the fish spawn in peace, in spite of the outstanding numbers of small and medium sized trout seen this past fall—again without true scientific evidence.
This closure is really harming a great many small businesses in coastal North Carolina, from tackle shops not selling lures and live bait, small boat guides losing charters because their clients can’t keep any trout for the table (a prime species for spring fishing), plus motels/restaurants/gas stations/etc that depend on sports fishermen during the early spring before the summer tourist season really kicks in. In addition to this is the continued restriction on red drum, a fishery that has made a great comeback since the “slot size limit” was enacted. I totally agree with the size restrictions on red drum, but I think that the possession limit should be raised to two or three fish per person, due again to the increased number of both small and over-slot sized fish available in the waters of all or coastal NC. Again, would you make a trip to our coast to fish if you could not keep but one drum and no trout?
I’m afraid many people we depend on to support small businesses in our area will say NO to spending the $300 +/- for an inshore charter or the cost of a motel room/meals/bait/tackle/gas for such a meager return on their investment.
(Capt.) Walter White
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