At a time when many people are concerned with placing stockings by the fireplace with care, a local fishing facility has received a special kind of Christmas stocking.
And it was made possible by an unlikely source — the recent drought in western North Carolina.
The drought definitely had its down side, including sparking wildfires, but ironically it also is benefiting anglers through extra trout stockings at selected locations – including Tumbling Rock Reservoir in Mount Airy.
“This is kind of a bonus stocking,” city Parks and Recreation Director Catrina Alexander said Thursday regarding what she described as an unusual situation that involves the facility at Westwood Park.
That situation is a by-product of the drought, which caused water levels at fish hatcheries in the western part of the state to become dangerously low.
There were fears this might cause fish to die, which led the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission to stock selected small impoundments with additional trout, given the present availability of fish and an interest by the commission in enhancing those locations’ resources.
Alexander said Mount Airy recreation officials were asked if they wanted to participate in this effort, “and we said ‘sure.’”
The extra stocking — including brook, brown and rainbow trout, according to commission officials — was completed earlier this month at Mount Airy’s Tumbling Rock Reservoir and a dozen other locations, including Yadkin County Park Pond.
“This winter is an excellent time to try out trout stockings in these impoundments,” says a statement from the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission regarding the Mount Airy site and others.
Alexander agreed that winter can be a popular time to throw a hook into the water and she welcomes the opportunity to expand seasonal angling opportunities for area residents at Tumbling Rock Reservoir. “I wouldn’t be shocked if there were people there now,” she added Thursday.
Warmer days in wintertime tend to lure people to the Mount Airy site, she said.
The parks and recreation director says the extra stocking can be viewed as a special Christmas gift to the local fishing community. The local facility was projected to receive 750 trout.
Tumbling Rock Reservoir is accessible by taking the front entrance into Westwood Park, turning right and heading to an area near a picnic shelter. The trail leading down to the reservoir and its parking lot should be visible at that point.
The reservoir was constructed during the 1920s to supply water for Mount Airy. However, it eventually was abandoned and sat deteriorating for about 70 years. The area was refurbished with the help of grant funds, leading to the creation of the public fishing facility for the Westwood Park complex within the past decade.
No special trout license
Tumbling Rock Reservoir and the other sites tapped for the extra stockings are considered undesignated trout waters, unlike designated mountain streams.
When fishing undesignated trout waters, there is no size limit or restrictions on the types of hooks or bait that can be used, and anglers can keep seven fish per day.
In addition, a trout fishing license is not required to harvest fish at those locations.
The standard basic statewide fishing license is all that is needed to take advantage of the opportunity at Tumbling Rock Reservoir.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.