Photos By: Jamie Keown & Justin Dobson
Georgia DNR announced Nov. 3 in a press release that two public scoping meetings will be held to gather important public input regarding the DNR’s proposal to remove the “trout season” entirely and open all trout waters to year-round fishing. The official press release, along with the meeting details, can be read in its entirety here: http://www.georgiawildlife.org/node/3750.
Currently states across the U.S. put seasonal regulations on various types of fisheries. Closed seasons (regulated waters) prevent people from fishing at certain times of the year to protect species at vulnerable times in their life cycle, such as during spawning seasons. Why are closed seasons important you ask? And what are the effects of opening these fisheries up to year-round fishing? Since the above proposal deals with the Georgia trout season, we’ll focus our attention there for discussion sake.
As I mentioned above closed seasons are put in place to protect fish during vulnerable times such as spawning season. A lot of our seasonal streams in Georgia are designated wild trout water. As a general rule we all know Brown and Brook Trout spawn in the fall and Rainbow Trout in the spring. These spawning times take place when seasonal streams are closed to fishing. So what happens when we open them up to year-round fishing? While it may not seem like a big deal, a lot of these streams contain such a small population of fish that if spawning is disrupted by an unknowing angler the future of that particular stream could potentially be in jeopardy. This is especially true for the few streams left in our state that contain wild populations of Brook Trout.
Additionally having a year-round season leads to more harvesting of fish. Regulations would need to be changed to provide these fish with added protection. Regulations would also need to be examined on our stocked seasonal streams. With state and national budgets already spread thin, unless additional stocking plans or a change in regulations are put in place this could also be potentially detrimental to fish populations.
There are numerous other things that would need to be examined such as the additional vehicle traffic and camping that will most definitely come with the roughly five additional months of fishing time and their effects on the ecosystem as a whole. I’m no biologist and do not have access to any data on this subject, so that’s why I feel it’s extremely important to participate in these meetings. Whether or not you are for or against this proposal I strongly urge you to attend this meeting, ask questions, and let your voice be heard. Jonathan Lockwood Huie said it best: “When you see something done, know that you intended it. If you don't like what you see, then deeply examine your intentions”.