Creel Survey of North Carolina's Hatchery-supported Trout Fisheries

Roving creel surveys were conducted on nine hatchery-supported trout streams in western North Carolina during 1998 and 1999. The objective of this study was to describe angler use patterns and trip characteristics for selected waters in the hatchery-supported trout program. A total of 5,452 angler interviews were conducted during the two-year survey. Overall, anglers caught trout >203 mm (considered stocked) at an average rate of 1.38 trout/h. This catch rate exceeded the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) programmatic goal of 1.00 trout/h. Hatchery-supported trout anglers were harvest oriented and creeled 75% of all stocked trout caught. Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis), and brown trout (Salmo trutta) were harvested in proportions similar to those stocked. Brook trout were most likely to be captured within two days of stocking, whereas rainbow trout and brown trout persisted longer in the streams before being harvested. The varied species stocking mixture used by the NCWRC appears to providing anglers with a diverse catch experience as well as meeting the NCWRC goal of extending trout catch over time. Overall, approximately 10% of effort, 15% of catch, and 16% of harvest occurred on opening day of trout season alone in 1998 and 1999. Most anglers fishing hatchery-supported trout waters were North Carolina residents, ≥16 years of age, male, and used natural bait. Most hatchery-supported anglers rated their trips as good; however, only 10% rated their trips as excellent. Angler trip rating satisfaction was moderately related to trout catch and was not related to trip length suggesting that moderate catch rates are important to hatchery-supported trout anglers.

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