The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has reduced trout-stocking rates by 50 percent into public waters through August 2014 due to excessive predation by great blue herons at the Bobby N. Setzer State Fish Hatchery in Pisgah National Forest.
The reductions were implemented as a short-term action on May 2, while fisheries biologists determined the extent of the losses and assessed management options. This action affects 144 water bodies in 25 counties in western North Carolina.
“Great blue herons have taken a significant toll on all of the fish in the outdoor raceways at the Bobby Setzer Fish Hatchery,” said Bob Curry, fisheries chief for the Commission. “Staff has placed screen covers on the raceways and installed sonic and light deterrents — exclusion measures designed to reduce the predation impact from the herons.”
Although the hatchery has sufficient numbers of trout growing in the raceways to meet target stocking numbers, the trout are small and will not reach the target 10-inch stocking size until late summer. The reduction in stocking rates allows the Commission to stock the available target size trout through the summer.
For more information on trout fishing in western North Carolina, visit the trout fishing page.