Cold snap killing off speckled trout stocks
Gloucester residents Keith Nuttall, an avid recreational fisherman and former VMRC patrol officer; Bill Mullis, a commercial fishing fleet owner; and Jon Lucy, a speckled trout fisherman and retired marine scientist, are concerned that unusually cold weather will have a long-term negative impact on the speckled trout fishery in the Chesapeake Bay.
Lucy said there had been a significant number of documented kills in North Carolina this winter, especially since the second snow, but it’s been hard to come up with numbers to determine how many have died in the Chesapeake Bay. It’s clear, however, that the number of speckled trout that have died in the winter has increased “by an order of magnitude” over the past two years. He knows of 100 fish that died in Wilton Creek on Saturday, Feb. 8, the same day that 28 fish died in Dancing Creek in Gloucester. Both creeks enter the Piankatank River. The fish have been taken to VIMS to be studied.
Nuttall said he has a special affection for the gamefish. He caught his first one in 1967 and, while he’s received his share of citations for various species over the past 47 years, he loves speckled trout the most.
Mullis said that, while the fish isn’t a primary species for the commercial industry, it’s often caught in nets set for other species.