Fish Post

Releases – June 22, 2017

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The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries is asking anglers to make sure they know how to distinguish between king mackerel and spanish mackerel before keeping one of the fish.

Confusing these two fish is problematic because the size limit on king mackerel is twice the length of the size limit for spanish mackerel, and the bag limit for spanish mackerel is five times higher than the bag limit for the kings.

Anglers who get them mixed up may be forced to pay up to $255 in fines and court costs. To avoid getting a ticket, anglers need to learn to tell the difference between the two fish.

Adult spanish mackerel and juvenile king mackerel can look a lot alike. Both are long, slender fish with a forked tail and bronze-colored spots on the body. But the spanish mackerel features a black spot on the first dorsal fin that the king mackerel lacks.

Also, the king mackerel has a pronounced dip in the lateral line below the second dorsal fin. The line on the spanish mackerel gently curves to the tail.

A color graphic showing the difference can be downloaded at

The size limit for king mackerel is 24 inches fork length (from the tip of the snout to the fork in the tail). Recreational fishermen may keep three fish per person, per day.

The size limit for spanish mackerel is 12 inches fork length, and recreational fishermen may keep 15 fish per person, per day.


North Carolina recreational anglers holding a current Coastal Recreational Fishing License may receive a survey conducted by the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries in the coming months.

The survey is a follow up to a previously conducted data collection in 2009. It seeks information on the economic characteristics of coastal recreational anglers’ fishing trips, as well as social and demographic characteristics. The information gathered in the survey will be used in fishery management plans and in developing economic impact models to help fisheries managers make informed decisions on various fisheries topics.

Anglers, who receive the survey through random selection, will be asked a variety of questions such as what species they commonly target, average fishing trip expenditures, demographic information such as education, age, and household income, and their opinions on fisheries management and user conflicts.

Individual responses to questions will be kept strictly confidential. Results from the study will be aggregated to present an overall view of the economic status of the recreational fishery and published in a report that will be made available to the public at

For the survey results to truly represent those who fish in North Carolina waters, it is very important that anglers participate and answer as many questions as possible. By completing the survey, anglers help ensure that fisheries managers receive the best possible information about the economic effects of regulations.

The survey is being funded by the Marine Resources Fund which seeks to manage, enhance, and protect the marine resources of North Carolina based on sound science and strategies. For more information, contact Adam Stemle, division Economics Program manager, at (252) 808-8107 or


The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries is reminding watermen they need to renew their commercial fishing licenses and permits by June 30 to continue fishing, or in some cases, keep their licenses.

All commercial fishing licenses expire on June 30 each year.

With Standard Commercial Fishing Licenses and Retired Standard Commercial Fishing Licenses, the license holder has a year from the expiration date to renew the license, but is not allowed to fish commercially until the license is renewed. However, anyone whose license expired June 30, 2016, must renew the license this year or lose it.

If not renewed after a year, these licenses will go back into an eligibility pool, and fishermen must go through a lengthy application process to receive them. There were 772 license holders who did not renew their licenses last year.

All division offices that sell licenses are now fully staffed and open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., including lunch.

Commercial fishing licenses are sold at the following division offices: Headquarters Office at 3441 Arendell St., Morehead City; Pamlico District Office, Department of Environmental Quality’s Washington Regional Office at Washington Square Mall, Washington; Northern District Office at 105-A Impact Blvd., Elizabeth City; Southern District Office, Department of Environmental Quality’s Wilmington Regional Office at 127 Cardinal Dr., Wilmington; and Manteo Field Office at 1021 Driftwood Dr., Manteo.

The division will accept payment by cash or check only. Commercial license and permit fees for fiscal 2017-18 can be found at

Fishermen should bring photo identifications with them. The fisherman or person with power of attorney must be present to sign the certification form.

For more information, contact License Program Manager Brenda Clark at (252) 808-8030 or


The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has completed renovations and reopened the Hancock Creek boating access area located at 1100 Cahooque Creek Road in Havelock.

The Hancock Creek boating access area, which is operated in partnership with the Croatan National Forest, provides access to the Neuse River. The access area features a 15-foot-wide concrete boat ramp and a 60-foot floating dock. It also features an expanded gravel parking lot, which includes 26 spaces for vehicles and trailers and 11 spaces for single cars, including two ADA-compliant spaces.

“Hancock Creek gives anglers some great fishing opportunities,” said Ben Ricks, the Commission’s district fisheries biologist. “Boaters can expect to catch a wide variety of species such as sunfish, striped bass, flounder, red drum, and largemouth bass.”

The project was funded with motorboat registration receipts and Sport Fish Restoration Program funds. The Commission plans to construct a new public fishing pier at Hancock Creek in the fall.

For more information on boating in North Carolina, including the locations of more than 200 free, publicly accessible boating access areas, visit the Commission’s online locater map at

For more information on fishing in North Carolina, including where to fish, visit the fishing page on


Over the next few weeks, members of the North Carolina General Assembly will be debating an opportunity with HB867 to prioritize conservation and science-based management and achieve sustainable economic growth for the entire fishing economy of North Carolina.

What can you do to help? (1) Call; (2) Donate; and (3) Support.

(1) Now is the time to call your House member to let them know you support House Bill 867, The Coastal Fisheries Conservation and Economic Development Act. House Bill 867 is a new approach that is focused on the resource. This bill is not about user group conflict or allocation. HB867 updates the Fisheries Reform Act of 1997 law with a conservation-based approach that will return North Carolina to its place as a premier local and sustainable seafood producer and recreational fishing destination.

Please use our Action Center to look up your legislator and ask them to vote Yes on House Bill 867, a common-sense approach that will create jobs and grow the entire fishing economy.

(2) Donate to support the NC Sound Economy coalition efforts. Every donation helps, but right now a donation of $100 through the CCA NC website will get you entered into the $100,000 60/40 Raffle to Support NC Sound Economy. The goal of this special raffle is to sell 1000 raffle tickets at $100 each and draw one lucky winner who will receive $40,000! You have a 1 in 1000 chance to win $40,000 for only $100 (FYI, your chance to win the Powerball Lottery is 1 in 292 million). And if you don’t win the big money, you can still take pride in knowing you helped raise $60,000 in support of the NC Sound Economy coalition efforts. Please visit the Donate page on our website for more information:, or call the CCA NC office at (919) 781-FISH. The deadline to enter the 60/40 Raffle drawing online is August 10. We will draw the winner of the 60/40 Raffle in the morning on August 11 and broadcast the drawing live on Facebook.

(3) Support the passage of House Bill 867 by hosting a small group of friends in your community to help educate and inform others about the conservation of our coastal resources. The key to effective advocacy is a well-educated and informed grassroots membership. Utilize the resources available through CCA NC to help grow support for coastal fisheries conservation in North Carolina by hosting a get-together of your friends, fellow anglers, sportsmen, and conservationists. Call (919) 781-FISH for more information.