The Virginia Marine Resources Commission passed an emergency regulation Tuesday in an attempt to protect the speckled trout recreational fishery.
Rob O’Reilly, chief of fisheries management for VMRC, said the commission voted during a meeting at its headquarters in Newport News to pass a 30-day emergency regulation for the month of March that would close the speckled trout recreational fishery. That will give the commission time to hold a public hearing on Tuesday, March 25 to decide whether to keep the closure in place through July 31.
The action was taken in response to a large number of specks that have been found dead in Virginia waters this winter. O’Reilly said the trout apparently suffered from a “cold-stun event” when they moved into waters that were abnormally cold. Dead trout were reported found in the Piankatank River and Winter Harbor in Mathews and in the Corrotoman River on the Northern Neck, a VMRC report said.
O’Reilly said that if the commission follows staff recommendations and that of the VMRC Finfish Advisory Committee the March 1-July 31 closure would include the critical spawning periods for speckled trout, plus allow for an additional buffer zone.
Other recommendations included reducing the harvest limit for the remainder of 2014, permanently lowering the creel limits to five fish per angler each day of the season, closing the fishery from January-April every year, and following North Carolina’s management decision to close the speckled trout fishery this year until June 15.