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Fisheries officials asking public for help reporting cold stunned seatrout


The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries is asking local anglers and people on the water to report any cold stunned spotted seatrout they may find along the North Carolina coast. Cold stunning occurs when water temperatures drop rapidly or during periods of prolonged cold weather.

“The fish will get sluggish, they’re really actually stunned”, said Patricia Smith, public information officer for the NCDMF.  Sometimes, many of the fish will die either from the cold or they will fall prey to the birds or other predators.”

Spotted seatrout are more vulnerable to cold stunning events since they move to shallow creeks and rivers during the winter.

“It has been found that these cold stun events can have a significant negative impact on spotted seatrout populations, so we like to track them so we can do the best we can to protect the seatrout that do survive”, Smith said.

Spotted seatrout is a popular fishery in North Carolina and there’s been marked growth in their populations over the past few years, according to Smith. 

If a significant cold stun event occurs, the agency will close all spotted seatrout harvest in the affected area until spring.  No cold stun events have been reported so far this season, and Smith said thelast one happened a couple of years ago.  Still, fisheries officials ask the public to be on the lookout.

“The best way to report a cold stun event is to contact the Division of Marine Fisheries.  They can call the N.C. Marine Patrol at anytime and that’s 1-800-682-2632 or if they call during business hours, they can actually speak with our spotted seatrout biologist Tracy Bauer at 252-808-8159” (or email

Jared Brumbaugh is the Assistant General Manager for Public Radio East. An Eastern North Carolina native, Jared began his professional public radio career at Public Radio East while he was a student at Craven Community College earning his degree in Electronics Engineering Technology. During his 15+ years at Public Radio East, he has served as an award-winning journalist, producer, and on-air host. When not at the station, Jared enjoys hiking, traveling, and honing his culinary skills.