Flickr user EricMagnuson
The S.C. Department of Natural Resources is asking that fisherman practice voluntary restraint when catching spotted sea trout by catching and releasing.
The group says that "back-to-back cold winters have decimated the spotted sea trout" and that restraint will help protect the remaining spawners until September.
A release continues that "DNR sampling from nine South Carolina estuaries shows a consistent and dramatic decrease in the number of spotted sea trout, the lowest population recorded in 20 years. DNR continues monthly monitoring of sea trout and other recreationally important species to document status and trends abundance and size."
Most fish sampled were below the legal limit of 14 inches. Trout spawn from spring throughout summer in South Carolina.
After a similar cold-related kill in 2001, it took trout five years to fully recover. Current legal minimum size limit and creel of 14 inches and 10 per person per day remain unchanged.
A hat tip to The Island Packet for spotting this one; the paper also has some expanded reporting.
In related news, fears are high that the South Carolina shrimp population has also been badly injured by the cold weather.