First Year Assessment of Delayed Harvest Trout Regulations

Fisheries Outstanding Technical Paper

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.

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