Wanna Step Outside: Mountain trout stockings wind down as season opening approaching

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 28, 2024

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By Dan Kibler

For the Clemmons Courier

Hatchery trucks from western North Carolina’s three coldwater fish hatcheries are crisscrossing the western third of the state this week, making their last trips to stock mountain streams and ponds before the state’s general trout season opens on Saturday, April 6, at 7 a.m.

In northwest North Carolina, more than 225,600 brown, brook and rainbow trout will be stocked this year, more than one-third before the season opens, in 63 streams and ponds in six counties in this corner of the state. Statewide, about 600,000 trout will be stocked in 1,000 miles of streams.

About 40 percent of all trout hatched and raised in the Armstrong, Marion and Setzer hatcheries will be brook trout, 40 percent rainbow and 20 percent browns. The great majority of stocked fish will be about 10 inches long, with about one in 20 being stocked at 14 inches or longer. Stocking began after the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission closed the season on Feb. 28.

Ashe County has 15 water bodies classified as hatcheries supported, getting almost 68,000 fish in 2024. Wilkes County has 16 for almost 47,000 stocked fish, Watauga has 16 for almost 40,000 fish, Surry has seven for almost 43,000 fish, followed by Alleghany with nine bodies of water and almost 20,000 fish, and Stokes has two streams for slightly more than 9,000 fish.

The daily creel limit for hatchery supported streams is seven fish, with no size minimums and no bait or lure restrictions. It’s strictly put-and-take fishing. These streams are marked with green-and-white signs.

Four NC pros finish in top 15 in Bassmaster Classic

Four bass pros from North Carolina competed in last week’s Bassmaster Classic on Grand Lake of the Cherokees in Oklahoma, and all four finished in the top 15 in bass-fishing’s “Super Bowl,” two of them in the top 10.

Hank Cherry of Maiden, a two-time Classic champion, was the high finisher, taking eighth place and $21,000 for catching a three-day limit of 15 fish weighing 49 pounds, 4 ounces.

Shane LeHew of Catawba finished ninth with 48-15, winning $20,500. Brandon Card of Salisbury was 14th with 46-8, winning $15,000, and Matt Arey of Shelby was 15th with 46-4, winning $15,000.

Justin Hamner of North Port, Alabama, won the Classic and its $307,000 first-prize money with a catch of 15 bass weighing 58 pounds, 3 ounces.

Cherry Grove Pier to reopen this week

Nearly two years after Hurricane Ian split it in half, a popular ocean pier will reopen for fishing at 11 a.m. on Friday, March 29.

The Cherry Grove Pier in North Myrtle Beach will reopen at 11 a.m., according to the Myrtle Beach Sun-News.

The pier was set to open last September, but construction delays moved the date back to this spring. The entire pier won’t reopen this week — just the first two-thirds. Some construction remains on the rest of the pier.