South Carolina's recreational anglers are currently being polled by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources in an effort to discover if the winter's unusually cold weather impacted spotted seatrout populations.

The online survey is found at www.surveymonkey.com/s/seatrout.

The January cold spell led to below-average water temperatures along the coast, and SCDNR officials believe this could have been a time of great stress and even mortality for the spotted seatrout population.

The online survey focuses on anglers who have targeted spotted seatrout since Feb. 1, and gauges what their success rates have been compared to the average catch over several years.

There is also a section of the survey to record when and if someone saw dead fish or even lethargic fish during that time period. Lethargic trout are thought to have been easy targets for predators like dolphin during the unusual cold spell, and predation may explain why anglers did not observe many dead fish.

Capt. Bob Sanders (803.259.1374) of FishingWithBob Charters at Edisto Island has had great concern over the spotted seatrout population since the cold weather. Sanders, who has a reputation for being able to find the trout for clients, said there have been very few located this year in the waters around Edisto.

"We've started a grassroots moratorium on keeping trout," he said. "The numbers are way down from predation during the extended cold this winter. So turn those trout loose."