Guilford County anglers who head to the mountains to fish for trout may think Fred Harris isn't thinking too clearly on trout management when they learn that he proposes introducing trout in a city of Greensboro-owned pond.
But that's exactly what Harris, chief of boating and inland fisheries for the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, is thinking and talking about. He will be in Greensboro in a few days to talk with lake wardens about the proposed experiment.His plan is elegant in its simplicity. He proposes stocking the Taylor W. Turner Pond adjacent to Lake Higgins with trout during the winter months, a move that will not interfer with the prime purpose of the small pond. The purpose of the approximately one-quarter acre pond is to raise Bodie bass and catfish from very small size to a catchable size that can be transferred to other lakes and ponds to enhance fishing in public waters.
The trout fishery, if the program is adopted, could begin each November, end when the weather warms in the spring. Should a lot of fish remain in the pond as the water warms, those trout could be netted and transferred to mountain streams.
``This wouldn't interfere at all with what we are doing in raising fish out here,' said John Cranford, a Higgins warden. ``We put the Bodie bass in the pond in April, take them out to stock lakes in June and then raise the catfish. The catfish would be seven or eight inches long by the time the water starts cooling and that is big enough to stock in other waters.'
Fishing for trout in a Guilford County pond has precedent. Some 20 to 25 years ago, a High Point man stocked a pond with trout and allowed fishing on a fee basis. This practice is common in the mountain country. This type fishing usually is paid for on per-pound basis rather than the daily fee anglers in Guilford usually pay to fish a local pond for panfish, bass and catfish.
More recently, High Point attorney and avid trout fisherman Joe Craig has proved to himself and a few other trout fishermen that Guilford County can have successful trout programs. His experiment was not one in which the trout were held in a farm pond during the winter months only, but in a running stream. Trout stocked in that stream not only survived the winter, but provided a fishery on into the summer months. Craig used catch and release tactics during the colder months, then began keeping fish as the weather warmed.
Greensboro's John T. Weigel for several years has advocated some type trout fishing in waters near the city, and he been encouraged by Craig's experiment. He has suggested to the Nat Greene Chapter Trout Unlimited-Fly Fishing Federation that this organization get involved with some type fishing that would offer a trout fishing experience for Greensboro youngsters.
Weigel in his early discussions considered a creek flowing through the city limits as the proper place for such an experiment. In recent months, he has changed his mind and would like to see the Nat Greene group work with a landowner in northern Guilford County to set up such a program.
``We need to look around and find a stream with a pretty good flow to it, then try to work out something with the landowner,' Weigel said. ``If the water is good enough, we could have some kind of trout fishing in streams for a good part of the year. I'd like to see the fishing limited to youngsters most of the time, then allow adults to fish when the time comes to get the fish out because of warming water.'
Harris has indicated stream fishing for trout in Guilford County would be legal, that general trout stream regulations would apply.
The idea of the fishery at the Higgins pond should be especially appealing because this is one in which the city and wildlife resources commission can expand its urban fishing program without a lot of added expense. The pond is there, such a fishery would not interfere with current programs and there is the bonus of providing a new experience for some Guilford County anglers.
Harris and commission biologists have long been impressed with the fishing programs offered on the three water supply lakes owned by the city of Greensboro. The commission also is very interested in the urban fishing in such waters as the ponds scattered throughout the Greensboro parks system. Biologists have worked with the city in improving the fishery in ponds at Greensboro Country Park, Oka Hester Park and Hagan-Stone Park.
If there is one reason Harris and his staff would consider a trout fishing experiment in an urban area, it is the spirit of cooperation that has existed between the commission staff and the Greensboro officials and wardens for the past quarter century. Harris knows of this cooperation because he spent many days on Greensboro programs when he was fisheries biologist working out of Siler City.
Veteran trout fishermen probably will turn up their noses at the mere though of catching trout from a small pond rather than a mountain stream. But to an urban youngster, it would be a new experience. The program appears to be sound and Harris has picked a spot where those working with any project do so with enthusiasm.