Anglers around the county will be pleased to hear Hanging Rock State Park’s lake received a stock of 1,500 brown trout in late May, in addition to the 2,400 fish it obtains annually from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC).
“There was an excess of brown trout at the hatchery and we were able to take some of that surplus,” said park ranger Mary Griffin. “Hanging Rock State Park lake is the eastern most trout-stocked water in North Carolina.”
For several years biologists from the NCWRC studied the water quality and temperatures to assure the lake would stay cool enough for trout, before most are fished out by July or August.
“That’s the main fish people are catching here, largemouth bass and trout. Occasionally, you’ll see someone bring out a catfish, but that’s pretty rare,” Griffin said. “Our lake has an overabundance of small, slow-growing largemouth bass so we encourage folks to consider harvesting bass less than 14 inches long. Taking these smaller bass will increase the amount of food available, allowing them to grow more quickly and reach larger sizes.”
Visitors may fish around the lake, except for the swim area, and a foot path is provided with several cutouts making it convenient to fish from the shore. A handicapped-accessible pier was built in 2013 in a cooperative effort between the commission and state parks to enhance fishing opportunities at the lake.
“It’s the reason we enforce fishing regulations and having permits because that helps stock trout and build infrastructures like the pier,” Griffin said.
July 4 is “free fishing day” in North Carolina where residents and non-residents can fish in any public body of water from 12:01 a.m. to 11: 59 p.m., without having to purchase a fishing license or additional trout privilege license. Started in 1994, free fishing day is an annual tradition, sponsored by the commission and authorized by the N.C. General Assembly. It always falls on July 4.
“We’re open from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. in the summer,” Griffin said. “We also have supplies of bait and lure at the refreshment stand and we rent boats and canoes from 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. for $5 an hour.”
The daily limit of trout is seven with no size requirements and the daily limit of largemouth bass is five with a size limit of 14-inch minimum, except two may be less than 14 inches.
Folks fishing in the lake do not need a trout stamp, only a valid North Carolina fishing license, which can be purchased online at www.ncwildlife.org, by phone with a credit card at 888-248-6834, or at local shops – www.ncwildlife.org has an option to look up agents by county.
North Carolina state parks are celebrating 2018 as “Year of the Fish” and Hanging Rock is offering free, educational programs year-round with a special emphasis on fish. Public programs can be found on their website www.ncparks.gov under things to do or https://www.ncparks.gov/find-an-activity/events-and-programs
Amanda Dodson may be reached at 336-813-2426.