|Voluntary Catch and Release of |
Spotted Seatrout is now Underway
Coastal anglers know that part of the bounty of our saltwater estuary is the possibility of catching a mixed bag of fish species. The entire food chain that exists in these tidal waters is able to withstand cold snaps, but a period of prolonged cold can reduce water temperatures to levels that may cause some fish to die. Historically, the most vulnerable fish species tends to be the spotted seatrout and the cold start to 2018 is raising concerns. Now a call for catch and release practices is going out from biologists and wildlife conservationists to anyone catching trout until they reach the next spawning period.
The first half of January 2018 brought more below freezing nights to the Lowcountry than recorded during the entire winter of 2016 – 2017. A rare Lowcountry snow, followed by deep freeze, were contributing factors that caused saltwater temps to dip to 42-degrees in Charleston. Some saltwater fishing guides began to report sluggish fish up and down the coast which can be a sign of stress for the estuary. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources began reporting some dead fish and shrimp along smaller tidal creeks and marshes.
SCDNR quickly closed the shrimp trawl season, but elected not to close the spotted seatrout fishery. With temperatures rebounding nicely, anglers who pursue trout should be able to find success, and SCDNR and the general public will learn a great deal from these anglers as their fishing reports surface. SCDNR biologists operate two monthly fish surveys along the S.C. coast using trammel nets and electrofishing. These resources are the leading scientific indicators of many saltwater species, but they won’t have an accurate assessment on the severity of winter’s impact until the April surveys when spawning seatrout show up.
To read the entire feature article in the newspaper click Colletonian.
To view past blog entries on Cold Weather Affecting Spotted Seatrout click 2010