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Maryland: Stocking 300,000 Trout This Spring

leah kirk


Maryland anticipates releasing more than 300,000 brown, golden and rainbow trout in lakes, rivers, and streams over the next few months, as 2018 is shaping up to be an exciting year for trout fishing in Maryland. The department’s hatchery team began preseason trout stocking late last year and will begin spring stocking starting this month when some areas are closed to fishing. Although there is always some form of trout fishing allowed in the state year-round, the department considers it “preseason” until these March closures take place.

“Trout fishing has become an annual rite of spring for many families,“ Fishing and Boating Services Director David Blazer said. “This is a unique opportunity to immerse yourself and your family in a rewarding experience that will last a lifetime.”

Trout stocking is made possible through revenue from fishing licenses, trout stamps, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program. This grant program allows the department to hatch, grow and release trout throughout the state. The majority of Maryland’s stocked trout are raised in the department hatcheries, including the Albert Powell Hatchery in Washington County, the Bear Creek Hatchery in Garrett County as well as through a partnership with the privately owned Mettiki Hatchery, also in Garrett County.


Anglers should consult the 2018 Maryland Guide to Fishing and Crabbing for specific details on daily creel limits and other important information. The department’s trout stocking website, social media and email service provide updated information on what locations are being stocked. In addition, anglers may call our stocking hotline for a weekly summary at 800-688-3467.

Aerial Liming Underway in WV’s Monongahela Forest

leah kirk

West Virginia’s has renewed a decades-long battle to treated more than 50 streams in the highlands with limestone sand to help neutralize the effects of acid rain. These effort permit trout and other forms of aquatic life to survive and even thrive in waters in many otherwise sterile environments.

Limestone sand is being used by the Monongahela National Forest to treat acid-damaged soil in an experimental project where a helicopter is carrying four-ton bucket loads of limestone sand to these waters. Applying limestone on the ground improves the soil and the ability of a watershed to resist the effects of acid rain. The limestone sand is being spread over almost 800 locations on both sides of the Lower Williams River

The helicopter liming site is among the most acid-plagued locales in the Monongahela, although there are several areas even more severely damaged, including the Otter Creek Wilderness. Soils in this geologic formation are not resilient to the high level of acid rain inputs that the region has received over the last century.

Bipartisan Move Provides GSMNP Funding

leah kirk

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Senator Lamar Alexander plans to introduce a bill to help address the $215 million backlog of projects in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Senator Alexander said, "The Great Smoky Mountains National Park are struggling with a backlog of maintenance needs that are not being addressed. The maintenance backlog – which includes roads, buildings, campgrounds, trails, water systems and more – limits access to our national parks and diminishes visitors’ experience.”

“In the Smokies, the maintenance backlog exceeds $200 million – and around 75 percent 80 percent of that is roads. Park employees and volunteers are filling this gap and doing a lot of things we take for granted.  Last year, roughly 2,800 volunteers donated nearly 115,000 hours to the Smokies – helping to maintain trails, serving as campground hosts and doing all kinds of things to make visitors feel welcome and learn more about the park.

 “President Trump and Secretary Zinke have made addressing the growing maintenance backlog a top priority, and I agree we have a responsibility to address the growing maintenance backlog in our national parks. This is an issue Congress has been focused on for many years and working with Secretary Zinke,”

President Trump included the proposal to help address the National Park Service maintenance backlog in his infrastructure plan and the Department of the Interior’s Fiscal Year 2019 budget request. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke talked about the importance of addressing the maintenance backlog when he visited the Great Smoky Mountains, National Park.

Protecting the Nolichucky River

leah kirk

Southern Trout along with residents along the Nolichucky River and others are working to “keep the Nolichucky free-flowing.” Only about one-third of one percent of rivers are federally protected under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. With next year marking its 50th anniversary, activists and local outdoor enthusiasts say “there is no better time to build a movement around the iconic Nolichucky Gorge.”

Tennessee has already recommended that the seven-mile stretch between Poplar, North Carolina, and Unaka Springs, Tennessee, be recommended by the U.S. Forest Service for protection under the act. Years after US Nitrogen constructed a pipeline along the river in Greene County, some residents believe more needs to be done to protect the river’s ecosystem.

John Grace, a kayaker from Asheville, recently produced a short film that called on residents in North Carolina and Tennessee to contact their senators and urge them to protect the river and surrounding gorge. He said the campaign to federally protect the river will “need a little push.”

Grace said the Nolichucky, which is one of the last remaining free-flowing rivers in the southeastern United States, must be protected — not only to preserve the ecosystem but to encourage economic growth through outdoor recreation and tourism, which he said could be lost if a dam or other developments were constructed.

Matt Moses from Mountain River Guides agreed that keeping the river untamed is essential to the outdoor recreation industry around the Nolichucky. In Grace’s video, he talked about how important that industry is to Unicoi County. The Nolichucky River gorge and the Appalachian Trail are the two big tourism draws here in Unicoi County.

                Outdoor sports enthusiasts come from all across the country to enjoy the Nolichucky and its ecosystem. The first consequence would be the loss of habitat. When you put in a dam, parts (of the river) become dewatered, and it becomes a dry stream bed.  Woody Callaway, co-founder of Liquid Logic Kayaking, said the Nolichucky River is an “iconic place.” He too supports protecting the river under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act due to its ecological value and location.

“What I think is really cool and unique about the Nolichucky is that this is a natural river — there’s no dams,” he said. “If you look on a map, and you look at the topography, the Nolichucky headwater starts at two of the highest points on the East Coast, Mount Mitchell to the south and Roan Mountain to the north.”

How the Brook Trout Cross the Road

leah kirk

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Restoring a stream beneath a bridge in Unicoi County East Tennessee has gotten quite the reputation as a trout fishing destination, for the monster rainbows and browns. The unsung heroes of the sport are the smaller brook trout. They are a sensitive species with a need for clean, cold, quality water and wide habitat. Such was the case in Unicoi County, Tenn., in the Cherokee National Forest, where a box culvert had been years ago built underneath a road crossing on Briar Creek, a tributary to the Nolichucky River.

It created an interruption in brook trout habitat. Water could still flow beneath the road. There was a big opening underneath the bridge, but there was a slick concrete pad there so that when the stream ran over it, the water was shallow and fast and there were none of the riffles or pools found in a natural stream. The water ran so fast that it eroded the stream bed on the downstream side and created a little waterfall. The fish would have to jump up to even get up to the pad in shallow water conditions, which was nearly impossible for them.

The result was a disconnect between two populations of brook trout, which many times result in genetic isolation. Advocates for the fish—TVA, Trout Unlimited, the Nature Conservancy, American Rivers, the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in this case—joined together to fix the problem, replacing the box culvert with a new, bottomless arch culvert, as shown in the photo above.

The new culvert will restore the stream bed and create riffles and so that as fish move up and down the stream beneath the road will open up about two miles of habitat for the downstream trout.

WV’s Trout Hatchery Full Nearing Production

leah kirk

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It’s been nearly two years since epic flood waters ripped through the 118-year-old facility, contaminating its trout and trashing its infrastructure. Most of the physical damage has been repaired, but another year and a half remains before the hatchery can fully resume its primary mission — providing rainbow trout eggs to hatcheries in 14 states. The will be back to normal until 2019.

If the hatchery simply produced trout to be stocked in streams and ponds, it would have been back in full swing several months ago. But as a supplier of eggs, the facility requires a full three years to come up to speed. It is required to provide disease-free eggs, but not allowed to receive adult fish from other hatcheries. It must bring in disease-free eggs and raise its own brood stock from scratch. Fortunately, other federal hatcheries were able to provide eggs as needed.

The first batch of eggs came from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s facility in Erwin, Tennessee, in August 2016. The next batch arrived in January 2017 from the service’s Ennis, Montana, hatchery. Two sources were needed because White Sulphur historically raised two distinct rainbow strains — the Erwin Arlee strain and the Shasta strain. They’re both rainbow trout, but they spawn at different times of the year. Fortunately, both of our source hatcheries had backup supplies of eggs.

White Sulphur won’t return to full production until three-year classes of trout are being kept at the facility. The third year-class of Erwin Arlee fish won’t arrive until August. The third year-class of Shasta fish will arrive next January. Historically, most of the surplus adult rainbows end up in West Virginia waters. Some are sent to Virginia, and some end up with the North Carolina band of the Cherokee nation.

Casting for Hope Bringing Top Fly Fishers to WNC

leah kirk

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Casting for Hope Bringing Top Fly Fishers to WNC

For a seventh year, the Gold-Level Casting for Hope Fly-Fishing Competition is staging a three-day competition, presented by MasterNymph, is April 13-15 in Spruce Pine and Bakersville. Co-Directors Taylor Sharp and John Zimmerman said some of the top-ranked fly-fishing anglers in the country are expected to compete, and this year, there’s a new twist, the #CFHPledgeChallenge.

“Donors pledge a certain amount of money for every fish they catch at the April tournament,” Sharp said. “For example, pledging 1 cent per fish could pay for gas for a trip to chemotherapy. Anglers can send out a personalized fundraising link to their supporters. As exciting as it is to catch and land a fish and to compete, we know that every fish caught this year is fighting cancer.”

Since the tournament began, the nonprofit has raised nearly $500,000 and draws some of the biggest names in fly-fishing, Zimmerman said.

Devin Olsen, the No. 1 ranked angler on Team USA, will be flying in from Oregon to compete. Other national fly-fishing team members expected to compete are Michael Bradley, No. 6, of Cherokee, Mason Simms, No. 9, and Tyler Cornett, who attends Western Carolina University.

The field of 40 – eight teams of five – sold out within a week of registration opening, Zimmerman said. Anglers are split up into flights of eight people, who stay together all weekend, fishing five different venues – Cane Creek in Bakersville, Upper and Lower North Toe in Spruce Pine, and the Little Rock and Big Rock Creek in Bakersville.

There is one representative from each team in each flight, and they are competing against everyone within a flight. Each fish caught is worth 100 points, and every centimeter is worth 20 additional points. Points are added up at the end to determine the winning team.

Sharp said he is amazed and proud of how far the fishing tournament has come. The national-caliber event is one of only two that models the World Championships, allowing a great practice venue for those looking to earn a spot on Team USA for the World Champs.

The nonprofit has grown to include several fishing tournaments throughout the year, including the upcoming Cherokee Classic June 9 in Cherokee. It also hosts the Morning of Hope 5K and Community Sunrise Service on March 31. The race starts at 8:45 a.m. at Catawba Meadows Park in Morganton.

Breaking News: Building a Better Rainbow Trout

leah kirk

Colorado biologists are on a breeding blitz to revive the species ravaged by whirling disease. Super-resilient trout found in the Gunnison River will be stocked this spring with the hope of creating a self-sustaining population, says Bruce Finely of the Denver Post

Volunteers snipped off the left pelvic fin from the belly of each trout. Then they plopped them back into tanks, 20,000 fish in two intense workdays last week. Rainbow trout are non-native fish, introduced during Colorado’s 19th century. The fin snipping is to mark rainbows from a newly discovered resilient subgroup will allow tracking when releasing them into the Arkansas River this spring.

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This will help them determine the success of this group of whirling disease-resistant trout. It is the latest step as CPW runs with a scientific breakthrough that could lead to defeating whirling disease. Like rainbow trout, the disease is imported. A parasite invader hitched a ride to Pennsylvania from Europe in 1958 on a frozen fillet and has been attacking the soft cartilage of fingerling rainbows ever since, causing them to grow into deformed, c-shaped juveniles. They swim in circles and die of starvation or exhaustion.

Now, this new breed of rainbows could make a comeback four years ago, a researcher investigating rainbow genetics spotted an isolated group at the bottom of a rocky chasm in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison River. These rainbow trout seemed able to withstand whirling disease. State biologists verified the immunity and began a genetic analysis.

The whirling disease parasite that had infected fisheries in Pennsylvania and other Eastern states reached Colorado in 1980. It took hold inside this fish hatchery along the Arkansas River with devastating effects. Whirling disease parasites spread with river water into hatchery pipes and tanks, contaminating state fish-breeding operations. When rainbow trout were distributed statewide for stocking, so was whirling disease. The result was the near-total ruin of rainbow trout. Whirling disease also threatens other fish, including the native greenback cutthroats.

Last year, state biologists tossed some of their captive-bred rainbows into the Arkansas River. While acid metals contamination from inactive mountainside mines still impairs headwaters, state data show, the river flows around Salida are diluted enough that brown trout are multiplying. The biologists used an electro-fishing survey method to check up on those resilient rainbows, marked for tracking. They determined that the fish were surviving.

Become a Stream Monitor

leah kirk

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A pair of volunteer training sessions for stream monitors through the Stream Monitoring Information Exchange will be offered next month, giving volunteers the skills they’ll need to participate in long-term monitoring projects at sites in Haywood, Madison, Buncombe, Yancey, Henderson and Mitchell counties. The times and dates are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 17, at Blue Ridge Community College in Flat Rock, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 24, at UNC-Asheville

The course covers basic stream ecology, methods for reporting local water quality programs, identification of aquatic insects and stream sampling skills. It includes classroom and outdoor portions, so participants should come prepared to get wet. After training, volunteers will work in small groups with leaders to sample at least two sites per season. Each site must be sampled once in the spring and once in the fall, about two or three hours per site. Volunteers must be 17 or older, but no experience is necessary. The March 17 training is geared toward Henderson County volunteers, with the March 24 training aimed at volunteers in Haywood, Madison, Buncombe, Mitchell, and Yancey counties.

GSMNP Jumps Front Country Camping Fees

leah kirk

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GSMNP officials announced a fee increase for front county (no, “frontcountry” is not a real word) campgrounds and picnic pavilions effective March 1, 2018. Over the past year, officials reviewed public comments, operating costs, and projected budget levels to determine the rate increases which range from 10% to 25%, deciding to hell what you think, we’re raising the rent.

 The rate increases are necessary to meet the rising costs of operations, reduce a backlog of maintenance requirements on park facilities, and initiate needed improvements. Park officials are also improving the efficiency of campground management by adding three campgrounds to the national reservation system through

Praise God our grandparents when creating the park charter from 1934, prohibited3 the NPS from charging an entrance fee…otherwise….

Arkansas’ White River Update

leah kirk

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The trout catches have been fair to good. The river level is high, as generators are running in the morning and shutting off in the afternoon.  John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said that during the past week, Cotter had several rain events totaling at least 3 inches with more expected over the weekend, after this report was filed. Also, they had warmer temperatures and heavy winds.

The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 2.6 feet to rest 4 feet below seasonal power pool of 659 feet MSL. This is 40 feet below the top of the flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose 1.3 feet to rest at 5.3 feet below seasonal power pool and 21.3 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 3.1 feet to rest at 4.4 feet below seasonal power pool and 14 feet below the top of flood pool. The White saw more wadable water with less generation. On the White, the hot spot has been Rim Shoals. The hot flies were olive Woolly Buggers (sizes 8, 10), Y2Ks (sizes 14, 12), prince nymphs (size 14), zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead sizes 16, 18), pheasant tails (size 14), ruby midges (size 18), root beer midges (size 18), pink and cerise San Juan worms (size 10), and sowbugs (size 16). Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective (John’s current favorite is a size 10 Y2K with a size 14 ruby midge suspended below it). Use lead to get your flies down.

North Carolina Hatchery Trout Waters Closed 3/1 to 4/7

leah kirk

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N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will close approximately 1,000 miles of Hatchery Supported Trout Waters to fishing one-half hour after sunset on Feb. 28 and reopen them at 7 a.m. on April 7. While fishing is closed, the state will stock in preparation for opening day. Hatchery Supported Trout Waters, which are marked by green-and-white signs, at frequent intervals in the spring and early summer every year.

This year approximately 916,000 trout will be stocked — 96 percent of which average 10 inches in length, with the other 4 percent exceeding 14 inches in length. Hatchery Supported Trout Waters, anglers can harvest a maximum of seven trout per day, with no minimum size limit or bait restriction. Hatchery Supported Trout Waters are open from 7 a.m. on the first Saturday in April until one-half hour after sunset on the last day of February the following year.

Pisgah Wildlife Education Center March Workshops

leah kirk

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Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education is offering free fly fishing related workshops throughout the month of March. Online registration is required for the workshops.

March 1 – Fly Selection 101 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Open to ages 12 and up. Spend the morning learning the basics of various fly patterns, including when and how to use them. The discussion will include nymph, emerger, dry fly, and terrestrials.

March 13 and March 27 – Introduction to Fly Fishing from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Open to ages 12 and older. Learn the basics of fly fishing, including proper equipment, knots, and casting techniques. This course includes a two-hour fishing trip at the Davidson River and all equipment and materials are provided.

March 15 - On the Water: Little River from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Open to ages 12 and up. Practice your fly fishing skills on the Little River in DuPont State Recreational Forest under the supervision of our instructors. Learn about Delayed Harvest regulations, wading, reading the water, fly selection, presentation, casting, knots and stream entomology during a fun, relaxing morning of fishing. Equipment and materials are provided.

March 16 and March 26 – Eco Explorers: Fly-Tying from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Open to ages eight through 13. Enjoy learning the fundamentals and art of fly-tying under the guidance of our experienced instructors. This class is limited to eight participants, and equipment and materials will be provided.

March 19 – Fly-Tying for the Beginner from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Open to ages 12 and older. Learn the basics of fly-tying during this introductory level class. Equipment and materials will be provided.

March 20 – Tackle Rigging for Fly Fishing from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Open to ages 12 and up. Learn how to create different tackle setups for fly fishing in a variety of situations, including dropper rigs, Euro-style nymphing rigs and more. The course will also cover material selection, techniques, and care. All materials will be provided.

March 21 – Casting for Beginners: Level I from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Open to ages 12 and older. Experienced instructors allow beginner-level participants to learn at their own pace as they teach various casting techniques. This class is held at Lake Imaging in DuPont State Recreational Forest. All equipment and materials are provided.

March 28 – Reading the Water from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Open to ages 12 and older. Enhance your fly fishing experience by improving your understanding and approach to catching trout. Topics include where to stand in the river when to mend your line, when to pick up your line, water hydrology and more.

Tennessee TU "BACK THE TAG”

leah kirk

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“Here in Tennessee, we have had our own Trout Unlimited tag for over 10 years. We are fortunate that Tennessee returns a generous portion of the Brook Trout specialty tag to the Tennessee Trout Unlimited State Council”, says John Reinhardt, president of the Smoky Mountain Chapter of TU.

“Each year the Council through the TU state grant program receives requests from our individual chapters to request funds for conservation-related projects using the funds from license plate sales. `

``             Here is the link to purchase a voucher to get a gift tag or go to your local county clerk to purchase or upgrade your existing automobile tag:

“GO FUND ME” For Bryson City Fly Fishing Museum

leah kirk

Southern Trout has embarked upon a Go Fund Me drive to help fund of one of the aquariums planned for the Fly Fishing Museum of the Southern Appalachians, in Bryson City, NC. The fundraising goal is $5,000 for the Go Fund Me project. This will enable the museum to fill out its ambitious building program that includes 17 tanks.

               “We’re pleased to partner with Southern Trout Magazine and have the publication step up to do this,” says Alen Baker, the curator and driving force behind the creation of the museum. “The publication and its publisher Don Kirk have long supported the museum and its goal to preserve the heritage of fly fishing in the Southern Appalachians.”

               Founded in 2014 in Cherokee, and then relocated to Bryson City, the museum already contains several impressive displays, but nothing that compares with the current expansion. The new addition will contain tanks dedicated to native species such as brook trout and exotics such as rainbow and brown trout. Other cool water fishes include smallmouth bass and musky as well as scores of different shiners, darters and chubs and even river sturgeon. This addition will greatly enhance the museum’s ability to attract tourism.

WV’s Stephens Lake: Future Trophy Trout Fishery?

leah kirk

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That's what West Virginia DNR Fisheries Biologist, Mark Scott, thinks may be possible in Stephens Lake--a 300-acre body of water just west of Beckley in Raleigh County. In fact, Scott even suggests that 3-foot trout could eventually become a reality!

"Through some of our research, we found that when this lake stratifies, the lower layer has plenty of oxygen and good water down to about 45 or 50 feet deep--good cold water with plenty of oxygen, so that's basically water that's not being used. So we thought, well--if we can develop a fishery. It's an empty niche so to speak", said Scott.

Recently, over 1,000 rainbow trout--mainly just big enough to escape walleye predation--were picked up at the National Fish Hatchery in White Sulphur Springs and stocked into Stephens Lake. Scott has already been stocking some tagged rainbow trout into these waters, and his hypothesis--that they should grow pretty fast--seems to be right on the money. The water clarity appears to really help a lot in keeping the deeper water cold and oxygen-rich.

"The light's able to get through and the plants and algae photosynthesize down in that deeper layer. The rainbows grew really well. We had one in four months that gained a pound and a half. They're eating pretty well. One guy caught one a year later that was four pounds", said Scott.

Not only do the plants growing deeper down mean more oxygen for the trout, but also a place to hide and to find food. It will take several years to see the 24 to 36-inch trout that Scott thinks is possible, but this will only make this lake--already known for its bass, musky and walleye fishing--even better!

"Trout are popular, and we're blessed with a lot of good trout streams, but as far as lakes--there's really not many out there where you can go and catch a trophy. This could potentially be that", said Scott.


Southland Christian Church Lake Latest KY Trout Stocking

leah kirk

The 2.6-acre lake at Southland Christian Church in northern Jessamine County is now enrolled in the Fishing in Neighborhoods (FINs) program.

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“We stocked the lake with trout on Tuesday, Feb. 6,” said Dane Balsman, coordinator of the FINs program for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “The lake is on the church property off Harrodsburg Road. This is a highly desired area. Lexington has limited public waters for fishing. This lake will help alleviate that.”

This lake will receive 1,500 rainbow trout total for 2018 in February, March, and October.    Stockings of channel catfish total 2,000 for 2018 in March, April May, and August. The lake will get stockings of sunfish in early June.

            “The catfish average one pound each, about 15 inches long,” Balsman said. “We are stocking bigger trout in FINs lakes this year. They are between 10 ½ and 11 inches long.”

Balsman said the lake has a good population of largemouth bass. “We saw a couple of trophy largemouth bass over 20 inches in our population sampling,” Balsman said.

            The lake is under standard FINs lake regulations. Anglers may keep four catfish, five trout, 15 sunfish and one largemouth bass over 15 inches long daily.

“We are excited about sharing resources with the community,” said Jim Cox, campus operations director for Southland Christian Church. “This will be a place that families will come and enjoy.”

Cox asks anglers to not fish on Sunday mornings. Southland Christian Church Lake is only open during daylight hours.

“This is the first FINs lake we’ve partnered with a non-governmental organization,” Balsman said. “We are excited about this lake. It is in a good area and will receive a lot of use.”

Hog Sucker Wild in MO

leah kirk

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Richard Bradshaw of Winona became the most recent state-record-fish breaker in Missouri when he gigged a northern hog sucker on the Current River in Carter County. The new “alternative method” record fish caught by Bradshaw on Jan. 27 weighed 2 pounds, 12 ounces with a length of 18.6 inches. Bradshaw’s recent catch broke the previous state record by 4 ounces. Now you know they keep records of such noteworthy accomplishments (bait was unspecified).

The northern hogsucker is native to southern Canada and much of the eastern and southern United States. It lives in the rivers of the Mississippi River Basin, yadda, yadda, yadda. If you are a southern trout fisherman and have not caught your share of these ugly fish, well then you are fishing northern hog sucker free waters where there isn’t any trout. I’ll check with my cousin Stinky to see if they are as good to eat as hornyheads.

New Record—11 Million Visit GSMNP in 2017

leah kirk

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park welcomed more than 11.3 million visitors last year, setting a new record for the second year in a row. According to a park news release, the park saw a slight, 0.2 percent increase compared its 2016 visitor totals. Its highest visitation month was July, followed by October and June.

Last year, the park hosted the largest special event in its history during the solar eclipse in August. More than 15,600 people attended eclipse events offered at Cades Cove, Clingmans Dome, Oconulaftee Visitor Center, and Sugarlands Visitor Center. And more than 47,000 visitors entered the park from the four main entrances to view the eclipse on Aug. 21, a 64 percent increase in visitation for that day compared to 2016.

Hatchery Supported Trout Waters Closed March 1 until April 7

leah kirk

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N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will close approximately 1,000 miles of Hatchery Supported Trout Waters to fishing one-half hour after sunset on Feb. 28 and reopen them at 7 a.m. on April 7.

While fishing is closed, Commission personnel will stock all Hatchery Supported Trout Waters in preparation for opening day. Staff stocks Hatchery Supported Trout Waters, which are marked by green-and-white signs, at frequent intervals in the spring and early summer every year.

This year, Commission personnel will stock approximately 916,000 trout — 96 percent of which average 10 inches in length, with the other 4 percent exceeding 14 inches in length.

While fishing on Hatchery-Supported Trout Waters, anglers can harvest a maximum of seven trout per day, with no minimum size limit or bait restriction. Hatchery Supported Trout Waters are open from 7 a.m. on the first Saturday in April until one-half hour after sunset on the last day of February the following year