Heat forces Dukes Creek clo­sure

Trout stream closed to an­glers

The Covington News - - AGRICULTURE & OUTDOORS -

HE­LEN — The ex­treme heat of the past few weeks cou­pled with the on­go­ing drought sit­u­a­tion is forc­ing the clo­sure of at least one north Ge­or­gia trout stream — Dukes Creek at Smith­gall Woods Con­ser­va­tion Cen­ter in He­len.

Due to high wa­ter tem­per­a­tures and low stream flows, the Ge­or­gia De­part­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources, Wildlife Re­sources Di­vi­sion has tem­po­rar­ily closed Dukes Creek to all an­gling ac­tiv­ity be­gin­ning Aug. 16. Triple digit tem­per­a­tures and warm nights are push­ing wa­ter tem­per­a­tures in moun­tain streams to lev­els that are lethal to trout.

“ The ideal tem­per­a­ture for trout streams is be­tween 55 de­grees and 65 de­grees F. We’re cur­rently mea­sur­ing tem­per­a­tures at 73 de­grees F and above,” ex­plains WRD Fish­eries Bi­ol­o­gist Lee Keefer. “At th­ese tem­per­a­tures, the stress of be­ing han­dled by an­glers could re­sult in sig­nif­i­cant mor­tal­i­ties.”

At this time, the only stream that will be closed to trout fish­ing is Dukes Creek. Even though this par­tic­u­lar stream is man­aged with “ catch and re­lease” rules, an­gling stress com­bined with hot wa­ter can kill the tro­phy trout that an­glers value. Re­open­ing of the stream to the pub­lic will re­main con­tin­gent on stream con­di­tions. An­glers plan­ning fu­ture fish­ing trips will need to call the Con­ser­va­tion Area at ( 706) 878- 3087 to ver­ify that the stream has been re- opened.

For­tu­nately, trout an­glers can still visit nearby Wa­ters Creek on the Ch­es­ta­tee Wildlife Man­age­ment Area, as it cur­rently re­mains cold enough for trout sur­vival. An­glers must pos­sess a WMA li­cense, in ad­di­tion to a fish­ing li­cense and a trout li­cense, to fish Wa­ters Creek. Stream con­di­tions on this creek are also be­ing mon­i­tored. If they worsen, there is the pos­si­bil­ity that this creek will also close.

For more in­for­ma­tion on trout stream con­di­tions, visit www. gofish­ge­or­gia. com, con­tact the near­est WRD Fish­eries Man­age­ment Of­fice or call ( 706) 8783087

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