New Live Bait Regulations Proposed

Friday, September 18, 2009 - by Richard Simms

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission will soon be voting on changes to the laws regarding live bait.

A proposed live bait proclamation was previewed to the TWRC by TWRA’s Fisheries Division this week.

Over the past two years, TWRA biologists have worked to develop a suite of regulations pertaining to the harvest, sale, and use of live bait.

Bill Reeves, TWRA Chief of Fisheries, says the primary goal of the changes is to protect native species... specifically certain salamanders and crayfish.

The new rules directly impact commercial fishermen and bait dealers, however Reeves said there is relatively little direct impact to sport fishermen.

Bottomline... if you like to catch crawdads, bluegill or threadfin shad from the Tennessee River to use for live bait, you can continue to do that. No questions asked.

However TWRA has identified three specific "problem areas" where you cannot catch crawdads and move them to another river drainage system. Those include the French Broad River, Holston River and Clinch River.

Reeves admits it will be a difficult enforcement situation, but says the regulation protects native species by restricting, or stopping, the importation of non-native species... primarily by out-of-state bait dealers.

But bottomline, for Chattanooga-area anglers, any legal live bait you've been catching and fishing with in the past will continue to be legal.

There are other stipulations, such as the use of rainbow trout as bait. Under the new regulation, you can possess all the trout you want under 8-inches long, provided you have a receipt to show where you bought them. However if you have trout which are more than 8-inches long, you can possess no more than the legal limit (seven per person).

Click HERE to view the PowerPoint Presentation provided to Wildlife Commissioners this week.

Additional questions can be e-mailed to the TWRA Fisheries Division.

The TWRA’s recommendations will be voted upon by the commission at its Dec. 3-4 meeting. The TWRA will soon begin taking solicited comments from the public through October.

In other action, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission made an amendment to the 2009-10 waterfowl regulations. Last month's proclamation contained a minor error for the youth waterfowl hunt, stating that canvasback harvest was closed. The TWRC approve an amended proclamation that corrects this error, making the youth waterfowl hunt bag limits the same as the regular season.

The commission also heard a report from Dave Kostersky, the Grants Coordinator of Ducks Unlimited Canada. He made a presentation to the commission on waterfowl habitat conditions in Canada.

A presentation to the commission was made by Waterways Management, Inc. Waterways Management has compiled data from 2007 and it takes a look at the future of recreational boating in Tennessee up to the year 2025. The information will assist TWRA in making informed decisions concerning the future of recreational boating in Tennessee.

The commission also has set its meeting schedule for the remainder of the calendar year. The TWRC will meet Oct. 29-30 in Knoxville and Dec. 3-4 in Nashville.

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