A team of wildlife biologists from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources stocked 20,000 hatchery-produced red drum in Winyah Bay on Thursday afternoon on the high tide.
These 20,000 red drum join the 200,000 already released into Winyah Bay this year, the third year of stocking. By the end of the season they hope to have released a half million red drum into the marsh grasses along Winyah Bay.
DNR wildlife biologist Karl Brenkert said they hope that this will yield a contribution of 15 percent to 20 percent hatchery raised fish to the catch of anglers. The purpose of the program is to supplement the natural catch not replace those fish with hatchery fish. The brood stock are all natural fish that are caught and brought in for a limited period of breeding.
Stocking of the hatchery fish needs to be timed with afternoon high tides as the fish are loaded from the hatchery near Hilton Head Island and transported to Georgetown for same-day release. High tide allows the tiny fish to be released into the marsh grass where they have some protection from predators as they acclimate to the new waters.
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They will grow to legal catchable size in a year to 18 months.
-- Charles Slate, email@example.com