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RALEIGH, N.C. (April 9) – Anglers who may be delaying the purchase of a fishing license this spring because they think the drought has parched their favorite fishing hole should consider spending the $15 for a basic annual license because the fishing is good in many places, despite ongoing drought conditions.

In fact, depending on where you fish, the fishing can be extremely good, say fisheries biologists with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. From the Coastal Region, where many lower sections of rivers were relatively unaffected by the drought, to the Mountain Region, where the fishing is status quo in most rivers and streams, anglers will find abundant fishing opportunities.

While the fishing remains good, biologists are concerned about potential drought impacts upon last year’s and possibly this year’s spawning success. Poor reproductive success could translate into poorer fishing a of couple years from now, but it is still too early to tell.

Fortunately, fish populations are fairly prolific and those stricken by events that Mother Nature doles out tend to recover quickly. For example, Commission biologists found, through multi-year surveys, that largemouth bass populations in coastal rivers rebounded nicely from massive oxygen-related fish kills spawned by Hurricane Isabel in 2003.

Each spring, biologists conduct fisheries surveys like these to track the abundance and condition of fish populations in public waters across the state. Results from fisheries surveys help biologists determine management strategies for public waters with the end goal being more and better fishing opportunities for anglers. Anglers, in turn, help fund these fisheries surveys through their purchases of licenses and fishing-related equipment.

In fact, anglers contribute hundreds of thousands of dollars to the agency’s Division of Inland Fisheries, whose funding comes, in part, from license sales and federal excise taxes on fishing gear, boating supplies and fuel. More licensed anglers mean more money for fisheries projects and programs that benefit those anglers.

“Money from fishing license sales helps us maintain existing fisheries programs that improve fishing opportunities statewide,” said Bob Curry, chief of the agency’s Division of Inland Fisheries. “Angler dollars help the division protect aquatic habitats; provide youth fishing opportunities; monitor the abundance of sportfish populations including, striped bass, mountain trout, crappie, and walleye; and stock fish in reservoirs, trout streams and community lakes.”

To assure that angler-funded programs continue, North Carolina is one of 26 states partnering with the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF) in a cooperative marketing campaign to increase participation in fishing and generate awareness of the connection between fishing license sales and conservation efforts. The recruitment campaign, which began last month, targets inactive anglers to encourage them to get back out on the water.

According to Mark Dubowski, the Commission’s marketing director, lapsed anglers, those who have purchased a license in the past but no longer hold a valid license, are more likely to respond to an appeal to buy a license than people who have never fished before.

“Old fishing memories have a way of pushing us out the door and down the road looking for new ones,” Dubowski said. “We hope this partnership with RBFF will help North Carolinians and visitors to our state realize how much fun fishing is, and how important they are to maintaining and enhancing fishing opportunities today and for generations to come.”

Anglers who want to go fishing this spring can purchase their license by:
Calling the Wildlife Resources Commission at 1 (888) 248-6834. Hours of operation are: 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday (from May through September, Monday-Sunday);
Accessing the Wildlife Resources Commission’s Web site, www.ncwildlife.org;
Visiting a local Wildlife Service Agent. Most are located at bait-and-tackle shops, hunting and sporting good stores and larger chain stores.
For more information on accessible, inland fishing waters open to the public, visit the Commission’s Web site, Welcome to N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.
 
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