Outer Banks definitely got its share of cold, winter weather in
January. Two different snow and ice events in one week is a major
rarity around here.
Last week’s event for the northern Outer
Banks was impressive for the area. The totals varied by location, but
the average was 4-7 inches give or take.
In its own way, I believe snow like this in this area is its own blessing and curse.
think it's a good thing for the kids to get to see and play in the
white wonder, but it does wreak havoc on the roads and schools that are
ill prepared for the situation.
I've enjoyed the banter back and
forth on social media and Web forums about how the southerners are
complaining about so little snow and how we don't know how to react to
Yes, things are a little complicated during the smallest of snow events in areas unaccustomed to getting little or none.
best response I saw about this was one that simply stated, “Getting 5
inches of snow in the south is like Manhattan being hit by a
hurricane.” Well said.
Nonetheless, in typical Outer Banks
fashion, after suffering a fair little snow storm and temperatures in
the teens with the wind chill on Wednesday, we had temperatures
touching 60 degrees by Sunday.
So, after a few missed days of
school and other temporary delays, we seem to be right back on track
for an Outer Banks winter -- for now.
You see so many reports of
the negative impacts of these types of cold events on the nightly news
or Weather Channel, but there is one that rarely is talked about in
major media outlets – cold-stunned fish.
life – which can affect everything from fish to turtles -- can be
compared to a person who may be suffering from severe shock.
it occurs when fish get caught in shallow water, in which water
temperatures drop dramatically in a short period of time. The sudden,
erratic drop puts the fish into shock.
This drop can lead to a
simple stunning of the fish or it can kill the fish. Either way, it
does leave the fish open to predation or to possibly suffer from
another drop in temperature.
I expressed my concerns about the
potential of this happening in my last column just before the last
winter storm, and I wasn't the only angler concerned about it.
inshore and ocean water temps had been fair in the big picture given
the time of year, so a massive drop in water temps could catch the fish
off guard -- and it did.
A sizable cold-stun event was recorded
in well over a dozen places in North Carolina. The primary victims of
this were speckled trout.
In some of these areas, hundreds of fish were recorded as being stunned or dead.
has led to a proclamation by the N.C. Department of Marine Fisheries
earlier this week to close all speckled trout harvest to both
recreational and commercial fishermen until June 15, 2014.
For a recreational angler, you can still fish for them, but you have to release them until the end of the moratorium.
don't believe this is a huge hit for the recreational side, although an
angler can almost bet this is when you will catch the biggest speck you
ever caught -- and not be able to take it in and weigh it. Oh, well,
take a picture and keep on fishing.
For the commercial fisherman, this hits a lot closer to home and especially hits the wallet.
is prime-time commercial fishing for speckled trout, so a moratorium is
going to affect the watermen’s bottom line. And with regular winter
storms and high winds, the inshore commercial fishermen have had a
tough go of it already.
But, protocols like this are there to protect the stock for those on both sides of the fence.
There is no way to know for sure just how hard the stock was hit or the effects the recent event may have.
are definitely a lot fewer boats on the water at this time of year, and
our sound waters are expansive. It's plausible that many more stuns
occurred throughout the state that were never recorded.
type of pause in the harvest allows time to better assess the stock,
without further damage from humans -- we can't stop further damage from
Also, once again, these fish are stunned and
while I believe most would die, there is still the chance some would
survive. So stopping the harvest allows for a better chance for
Some people will be upset, some people will praise the
proclamation, and others will be indifferent to the shut-down, but I'll
The Outer Banks has had some really good speckled
trout fishing the past couple of years because of moderate winter
weather, and it has been sometime since there has been a significant
I'd rather lose five months now, than
potentially a couple years or so due to more loss. But, I admit that
there is no good formula to know what was lost or how to exactly fix it.
just maybe, there will be some type of overwhelming proof that the
stock is just fine and the moratorium will be lifted early.
Time will tell.
offshore fleets were pinned down for a few days because of weather, but
I did see a scattered bluefin tuna make the reports when the boats got
Puppy drum fishing has remained solid from the Oregon Inlet
surf down towards Hatteras village. The bite has been fair around
Oregon Inlet, but the best action has been around Cape Point and
The immediate forecasts show a reasonable amount
of rain and winds that are light to flat out cranking over the next
several days. But there should be times to get out and at least chase a
few of these puppy drum from the surf.
Summer can't get here fast enough.
Alderman has lived on the Outer Banks for more than 12 years and has
worked in the recreational fishing industry the entire time. A former
variety fishing TV show host, beach fishing guide, tackle shop and pier
employee, Rob currently owns and operates Outer Banks Kayak Fishing. He
is on the Pro-Staff of Bending Branches LLC, Wilderness Systems Kayaks
and Release Reels. You can follow his adventures at www.FishMilitia.com or OuterBanksKayakFishing.com.)