There’s a new kid on the block as far as local trout fishing venues are concerned: Lovills Creek in Mount Airy.
Starting Saturday at 7 a.m., it will be open to anglers along with other waterways designated as hatchery-supported trout waters by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.
“Lovills Creek is in that program for the first time this year,” said Kin Hodges, a fisheries biologist for the commission.
The portion of Lovills Creek that runs from West Lebanon Street to Worth Street, along the Emily Taylor Greenway, is involved — with trout stocking occurring accordingly.
Hodges added Thursday that the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s schedule included plans for stocking 1,000 trout in that section of the stream each month from March through May for a hefty total of 3,000.
Under state regulations, no fishing is allowed in hatchery-supported trout waters from March 1 to April 1.
“It opens up on the first Saturday in April and you can take the fish home and eat them,” Hodges said of the seasonal rules for affected streams. There also are no bait restrictions, no minimum-length limit is in place and there is a creel limit of seven trout per day.
The trout-stocking season will be relatively short for Lovills Creek, running from March through May due to the expected high temperatures at the end of that cycle not being conducive to trout. But some good fishing is in store in the meantime, Hodges said.
Trout fishing will still be allowed along Lovills Creek later on, but the waterway will not be stocked after May, he explained.
Meanwhile, the same hatchery-supported trout waters designation applies to the upper portion of the Ararat River in Mount Airy, downstream from the Linville Road bridge to the N.C. 103 bridge.
Lure of Lovills Creek
Hodges said a combination of factors resulted in Lovills Creek becoming a hatchery-supported trout stream.
In years past, there were fish-kill incidents involving indigenous species due to various spills there. Also, a flood-control project undertaken a couple of decades ago resulted in channels being constructed that caused a spreading out of Lovills Creek.
But more recently, the stream has benefited from natural evolutionary effects that have caused it to become narrower and deeper, thus more suitable for trout.
Hodges added that another factor is the construction of the Mount Airy greenway connector to link the city’s Emily B. Taylor and Ararat River greenways.
Since the process for approving hatchery-supported trout waters begins well in advance of such designations, it was everyone’s “best guess” that the greenway connector would be completed by now and support trout fishing along Lovills Creek, Hodges said.
This resulted in that designation originally covering the stream from West Lebanon Street to the area where Lovills Creek runs into the Ararat River near Big Lots.
The fact the connector is now under construction along that southernmost section of Lovills Creek prompted the Wildlife Resources Commission to halt the hatchery-supported trout waters boundary at Worth Street at the present end of the Taylor greenway for now.
This was done in light of access problems by fishermen due to the new trail not being completed, where heavy equipment is present, Hodges said.
The fisheries biologist praised the city of Mount Airy for its providing of public fishing locations such as Lovills Creek and the Ararat River.
Other trout streams in the county, such as the Mitchell and Fisher rivers, run through private property at spots, where the owners can restrict access to fishermen if they choose.
The Ararat River in Mount Airy has become a favorite destination for anglers, which generates an estimated $1.2 million to $1.4 million for the community annually as visitors fish here, including restaurant, retail and other purchases.
And Lovills Creek will be added to the list.
“We’re just really tickled,” Hodges said of Wildlife Resources Commission personnel being able to offer a new venue for the public to catch fish it can take home and eat while also providing recreation.
“We think it’s going to be a big hit.”
One thing those 16 and older will need before throwing a line into Lovills Creek is a fishing license with trout privileges.
Additional information, including public trout-stream locations, stocking figures and other details, is available at the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission web site at http://www.ncwildlife.org/Fishing.aspx.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.