Winter Fishing at Harris Lake
Written By: Luke Osteen | Issue:
Trout are very sensitive to water temperature and don't survive very long in water over 70F. But during the winter, Harris Lake and other NC ponds are cold enough to support trout.
If you’re one of those people who laments the lack of fishing opportunities during the cold winter months, the North Carolina Wildlife Commission, the town of Highlands and Highlander Terry Potts have a solution that’s just one block from Main Street.
Starting right now, Harris Lake has been stocked with 900 Brown and Rainbow Trout.
“At (Highlands), Mayor Pat Taylor’s request we’ve added Harris Lake to our Winter Pond Stocking program,” says NC Wildlife Commission’s Powell Wheeler, who oversees the agency’s Winter Pond Stocking Program.
The Winter Pond Stocking program includes 33 other small ponds across North Carolina. Small ponds in North Carolina are typically too warm for trout in the summer. Trout are very sensitive to water temperature and don’t survive very long in water over 70F. But during the winter, Harris Lake and other NC ponds are cold enough to support trout.
“Terry Potts, the owner of the lake, gave his approval,” says Mayor Taylor. “The Catch and Release sign will be taken down during this period. The basic rule will be fishing from the bank in the public access areas of the lake.
“The fishing regulations are very permissive,” adds Wheeler. “Anglers can keep up to seven trout per day and there is no minimum size requirement and they can use any otherwise legal bait or lures. These permissive regulations help ensure the trout can be caught and harvested before the pond would otherwise get too warm for them in the summer.
“The Winter Pond Stocking Program is supported by surplus trout from our hatchery system. So, once our hatchery system meets the demands of our normal stream stockings, any left-over fish are available for the Winter Ponds. Getting rid of these extra trout helps us manage our hatcheries more efficiently and also helps anglers by providing a new fishing opportunity.
“However, because we rely on surplus trout, we cannot promise how many trout will be available to the ponds each year and some years we might not have any extra for the ponds.”
“Now everyone can ice skate, shop and fish in Highlands during the winter,” says Taylor.