Copyright 2013 James Marsh
Premiere Issue August 2013
t seems that every state in the nation where trout are stocked has come up with at least one "Delayed Harvest" trout stream.
Some of them call it a different name but the principal behind it is the same. In streams and lakes where there is not enough
natural production to sustain a population of trout, and where the water becomes too warm for a substantial number of trout
Most Delayed Harvest streams are heavily stocked, usually in the months of October and November. The catching is usually very
good throughout the cold months of the year. I think North Carolina has the most delayed harvest streams of any state. I say I
think, because several states are adding them faster than I can keep up with them. The first North Carolina stream to be set up
under these regulations was in 1992. The program was patterned after a similar program in Pennsylvania. It is probably the most
popular program every established by the N. C. Wildlife Resources Commission. It has been very successful in terms of
acceptance and the numbers of participating anglers. The first streams consisted had "catch and release" rules in effect during he
Spring only. Now stream are under the rules from October 1st to the first Saturday in June. At other times, the streams are
regulated the same as the state's hatchery supported waters. Live bait or artificial lures and flies may be used. Anglers are allowed
to keep up to seven trout per day without any size restrictions. These regulations differ from state to state and sometimes stream to
At least in North Carolina, the rules are fairly simple. Only artificial lures or flies with a single hook may be used and all of the trout
must be released. The North Carolina Delayed Harvest Streams are very well marked with signs. The 1992 pilot program included
four streams, and "catch-and-release" rules were in effect only in the spring. As the popularity increased, the program was greatly
expanded. Streams now are under delayed-harvest rules from Oct. 1 until the first Saturday in June. During the summer, streams
are regulated the same as the state's hatchery-supported waters, meaning anglers can use live bait or artificial lures and keep up
to seven fish per day with no size restrictions.
By now, you may be wondering why we chose to use the title " Delayed Harvest Gone Wild". In cases where streams are being
considered for inclusion into Delayed Harvest or other similar type programs, there is one thing we think should always receive
first and foremost consideration. In cases where a trout stream is capable of sustaining a reasonably good population of trout
without any supplemental stocking, we think it should be designated as a wild trout stream and left alone. In those cases, any and
all efforts should be devoted toward improving the habitat of the stream, not stocking it with hatchery raised trout. We don't want to
point out any particular state orstream, but we do think there are some cases where more harm than good has been done by
delayed harvest and similar type program regulations.
Delayed Harvest Gone Wild
A Good Thing Or Not?
to survive during the hot months of the year, the states are favoring "catch and release" and "catch and keep" regulations.on the
same stream or lake.
I think most of the trout are usually caught
during the first couple of weeks of the
"catch-and-keep" season. It depends on the
stream. The keep season is usually set to
just prior to the time the water would
normally become too warm for the trout to
survive. Most of the trout probably wouldn't
survive during the hot months but there are
some that do survive, again, depending on
the particular stream. Some of the Delayed
Harvest streams have a good number of
holdovers and some have few to none.
In most cases, biologists select and propose
streams for the delayed-harvest
designation. Once selected, they are
presented at annual public hearings and
assuming a stream receives a good
reception from the public, the proposals are
forwarded to the Commission for approval.
It's very rare that a stream proposed for the
program receives much public opposition.
Angie Marsh /