Trout stocking comes two weeks early because of drought, warm winter temps

By David Pendered

Georgia is stocking trout in streams two weeks earlier than normal because warm winter weather resulted in fish growing faster than usual, combined with low stream-flows through hatcheries due to the drought.

fishing, chattahoochee river

A fisherman wades in the Chattahoochee River at Island Ford, near Roswell, in the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area north of Atlanta. Photo taken in December 2012. Credit: flickr.com

Some 40,000 trout were released, starting Monday, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

An additional 70,000 trout will be stocked starting March 20, the usual date that trout are released from hatcheries. Georgia expects to stock a total of 1 million trout this year, according to DNR.

“Due to the mild winter, we have experienced excellent trout growth in our hatcheries and, with the continuing low stream flows, these fish have outgrown the available hatchery space giving us the opportunity to stock a few weeks early this year,” John Lee Thomson, trout stocking coordinator for the state Wildlife Resources Division, said in a statement

“With the current spring-like conditions and all trout waters open to fishing year-round, we have decided to stock approximately 40,0000 trout two weeks early,” Thomson said.

The trout are stocked through a collaborative effort of the Wildlife Resources Division and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The streams popular among anglers that were stocked include:

Buford fish hatchery, 6:7:2014

The chases at the state’s Buford Fish Hatchery are filled with young fish that are to be transferred to waterways in north Georgia. Photo taken in June 2014. Credit: yelp.com

  • Cooper Creek, in Union County;
  • Tallulah River, in Rabun County;
  • Dicks Creek, in Lumpkin County;
  • Holly Creek. in Murray County;
  • Johns Creek, in Floyd County.

Although the Chatahoochee River isn’t on the list, rainbow and brown trout are safe to eat when caught in the stretch that passes through metro Atlanta – from Buford Dam south to Peachtree Creek, according to the latest report from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division. Trout aren’t listed on the river stretches north and south of this portion of the river.

The daily limit is eight trout on general regulation trout waters. A state-issued fishing license is required to fish on public waters.

The state DNR noted that anglers are to respect private property rights along streams flowing through private lands and to obtain permission before fishing on private property.

Drought conditions continue to affect all of north Georgia, according to the latest report from the the National Drought Mitigation Center.

drought monitor, march 7, 2017

The latest report from the U.S. Drought Monitor shows north Georgia is covered by extreme and severe levels of drought. Credit: droughtmonitor.unl.edu

Conditions of extreme drought are recorded in all counties that border Tennessee or North Carolina. A minor exception exists in Dade County, where a combination of extreme and severe drought conditions exist. Dade County shares its borders with Tennessee and Alabama.

Winter rains have lessened the extent of extreme drought. On Nov. 29, 2016, extreme drought conditions covered 62.4 percent of the state. As of March 7, 8.9 percent of the region was reported to have extreme drought, according to a report by droughtmonitor.unl.edu.

Conditions of extreme drought exist in the counties of north metro Atlanta. They stretch in a line from Polk County, through Cobb and north Fulton counties, Gwinnett and Jackson counties, and northeast to the South Carolina line.

Likewise, winter rains have helped in these counties. On Nov. 29, 2016, severe drought conditions existed in 74.6 percent of the region. As of March 7, 19.4 percent of the region was reported to have severe drought, according to a report by droughtmonitor.unl.edu.

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

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