Saturday, May 9, 2015

Year-Round Georgia Trout

The Georgia Wildlife Resources Division announced recently that when 1600 miles of "seasonal" trout streams opened for the year last month they opened permanently. The annual seasonal closure has officially been removed from the law.

Georgia has always had enough waters open year-round that I haven't lacked opportunity to chase trout. In fact, between delayed harvest waters and late fall and early spring opportunities on a few wild trout streams that have always been open year-round, the cool months are probably my favorite months. I'm thankful for the change, though, because there are a lot of smaller wild trout streams that I at times I have wished I could visit during the cool months and could not because they were closed.

From my understanding, the need for a seasonal closure has been question by anglers for several years as fall/winter/spring trout fishing has grown in popularity, so the Georgia WRD began really looking at potential impacts and gauging angler preferences. The final verdict was that there was not biological need to close streams seasonally and that it made more sense to open more opportunities.

One thing I have not heard is whether streams that are fully hatchery supported and that were previously closed seasonally will now be stocked year-round. This obviously would require either far more trout to be produced or fewer fish to be stocked at other times. It could be that some streams will be technically open to fishing but not realistic angling destinations some of the year. Of course, the same is already true about waters that get to warm or too low for trout stocking during late summer.

I wonder if anglers who have a longstanding "opening weekend" tradition will still plan a late April trip to the same stream every year?

Time will tell how such things are carried out. For now, I'm simply thankful for fisheries managers who continue to look for ways to provide the best opportunities for Georgia anglers.

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