The N.C. Marine Fisheries has announced a closure of the speckled trout, or spotted sea trout, fishery beginning on Wednesday.


The N.C. Marine Fisheries has announced a closure of the speckled trout, or spotted sea trout, fishery beginning on Wednesday.



“Basically, all of the spotted sea trout will close in both inland and coastal waters at noon on Wednesday and will remain closed until June 15,” said Patricia Smith, public information officer for the Division of Marine Fisheries. “This is a result of there’s been some pretty large cold-stun events in several large bodies of water in the state, and under our spotted sea trout management plan, if there are significant cold-stun events then we close the fishery.”



What this means is that fishermen, both recreational and commercial, will not be able to keep any speckled trout that they catch. Seafood dealers will have until Feb. 12 to dispose of, sell or ship anything that’s not frozen.



A similar cold-stun event caused a closure of the fishery three years ago.



“Cold stuns are naturally occurring and what happens is the spotted sea trout don’t like cold water and usually when the waters get cold they move into the deeper waters where it’s warmer,” Smith said. “But if the water temperature drops real quickly, then it stuns them and it makes them at the least sluggish and can also kill them.



“These cold-stun events can have a significant impact on the spotted sea trout populations. The reason for the closure is to allow these fish that do survive to give them more of a chance to survive through the peak of the spawning season, which is in May.”



Last week’s winter storm that brought two days of snow and ice and three days of below freezing temperatures caused a cold-stun event last week.



N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries staff or N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission staff confirmed cold-stun events in the Pamlico, Alligator, Pungo, Scuppernong, Trent, Neuse and Cape Fear rivers. Chocowinity, Blounts and Chadwick Bays and Cahoogee, Hancock and Spinners Creek were also affected, according to Smith.



Smith said anglers can anticipate the season opening after the May spawning season.



“It is one of the most sought after fish,” Smith said. “It’s like third behind flounder and red drum in the state for recreational fishermen.”



Smith said anglers are split on whether the closure is a good thing.



“We’ve heard different points of view from anglers,” she said. “Some are saying that they think it’s the right thing to do to protect the spawning stock. Others are saying it’s going to affect my charter boat business and things like that.”



For more information, call the Morehead City office of the Division of Marine Fisheries at 808-8025.