Changes in Angler Use Associated with Trout Stocking in Two North Carolina Small Impoundments

Brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis), brown trout (Salmo trutta), and rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) have been stocked by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (Commission) into rivers and creeks in the mountain region of the state since the 1940s, but few trout fish- ing opportunities have existed in other regions. In December 2016, the Commission began to stock trout once a year into publicly accessible small impoundments across western and central parts of North Carolina. However, no formal evaluations of angler use in response to these stockings had been conducted. The goal of this project was to determine changes in angler effort before and after trout were stocked in two of these systems. At one impoundment, data from a trail camera from winters (December to March) 2015–2016 (no trout stockings) and 2019–2020 (first trout stocking) were analyzed to estimate angler effort. Angler effort at this impoundment during the winter of no trout stocking was 179.75 angler hours (angler-h). After trout stocking began, total winter angler effort increased to 833.5 angler-h. At another small impoundment where anglers were required to purchase a supplemental license to fish, license sales were analyzed to determine changes in use. Winter license sales were 250% higher during the three-year period of trout stockings compared to the three previous years when no trout stocking occurred. Results of this study demonstrated that trout stockings significantly increased angler effort and participation at these impoundments during the winter months. We recommend that the program be continued and extended to other similar systems as resources permit.

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