You can keep that trout, pardner: Anglers trying their hands at mountain waters designated as “delayed-harvest” are permitted to keep the trout they catch from those waters, beginning at 6 a.m. on June 7, when regulations change to “hatchery supported.”
Under hatchery-supported regulations, which remain in effect through Sept. 30, anglers may keep a maximum of seven trout per day, with no restrictions on bait and no minimum-size limits.
Fifty-six miles of the state’s roughly 1,120 miles of hatchery-supported trout waters are designated as delayed harvest. Only catch-and-release fishing using artificial lures is permitted on these waters from October to the first Saturday in June, but come June 7 hungry anglers may eat their catch.
Delayed-harvest waters are posted with diamond-shaped,
black-and-white signs. Because many of them pass through private property, Kyle Briggs, who coordinates hatchery production for the N.C. Wildlife Commission, urges responsible behavior along them.
“We think the delayed-harvest program provides terrific fishing opportunities for the general public, but it has become such a big program that we can only do it in cooperation with private landowners,” Briggs says. “And landowners will only continue to grant access to waters on their properties as long as anglers are respectful of their privacy and their properties.”
In short, that means you should dispose of trash and litter properly, park only in designated areas, close gates behind you and avoid blocking driveways or side roads. It’s the least you can do for the trout and your fellow man.
For a list of delayed-harvest waters by county, visit www.ncwildlife.org.