North Carolina implemented delayed harvest regulations in 1992 to diversify trout angling opportunities. Delayed harvest regulations allowed only catch-and-release fishing of stocked catchable-sized trout from 1 March-5 June 1992. Creel surveys were conducted on 2 streams to assess differences in angler trip characteristics, particularly catch rates, between delayed harvest and regular put-and-take (hatchery supported) trout streams. Catch rates of 3.16 and 6.54 trout per hour in delayed harvest areas were significantly higher than those of hatchery supported areas (1.87-2.52 trout per hour). The catch-and-release aspect of the regulation resulted in each stocked trout being captured an estimated 2.4-2.8 times. A higher percentage of nonlocal anglers used the delayed harvest areas and overall >75% of anglers rated their trips as good to excellent. The program was considered a successful addition to North Carolina's catchable trout program and expansion is being considered.
Fisheries Outstanding Technical Paper