TWRA Presents Fishing Proposals For 2013

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) Fisheries Division announced its proposed 2013 fishing regulation changes that will be presented to the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission (TFWC) at its October meeting. The TWRA made the proposals at the Aug. 23-24 meeting of the TFWC in Nashville.

The proposals cover a variety of topics including Alabama rigs, skipjack herring, wild trout streams, walleye on Cherokee Reservoir, and bass on Pickwick, Parksville and Cordell Hull reservoirs. Other proposals limit the number of commercial licenses, the addition of new commercial gear, and define waters open to commercial fishing. For a complete list of the proposals, visit the TWRA website at www.tnwildlife.org.

One of the most discussed topics this past year concerned Alabama rigs (fishing lures). One of the proposals would limit anglers to three hooks per rod. TWRA Chief of Fisheries, Bobby Wilson, said “this change should simplify the rules on Alabama and umbrella rigs.” 

Regulations surrounding multi-lure arrays created much confusion among anglers and TWRA staff this past year. The three-hook proposal is much simpler to interpret and offers a compromise between anglers that wish to fish five hooks with those that feel only one hook should be used on multi-lure arrays. Single point, double point, and treble (three points) hooks would each be counted as one hook.

Another proposal is a first-ever creel limit on skipjack herring of 50 per day (100 possession limit). Skipjack are a popular baitfish for striped bass and catfish.  In recent years, demand for baitfish has resulted in intense harvest of Tennessee’s skipjack with some anglers harvesting them by the hundreds to fill freezers. There is growing concern among biologists and anglers that this practice should be limited to prevent overfishing. The commission asked TWRA to consider a 100 fish per day limit because some anglers travel a long distance to catch skipjack. 

The public is invited to provide comments on the 2013 proposals until Oct.15, 2012. Comments may be sent to TWRA.Comment@tn.gov, or TWRA, Fisheries Division, P.O. Box 40747, Nashville, TN 37204. Please include “2013 Fish Comments” on the subject line of emailed submissions.

Following are fishing proposals by the TWRA:

Statewide

Allow only three hooks (single, double, or treble) per rod.   

This hook restriction would apply to all anglers, but it is designed to simplify rules that apply to the use of multi-wire arrays, such as umbrella rigs and Alabama rigs.  

Skipjack Herring:  Establish a creel limit of either 50 or 100 per day, no size limit.

Recent observations of anglers harvesting hundreds of skipjack per trip and a growing concern about the lack of skipjack at some locations suggests that a creel limit should be established to avoid overfishing of skipjack. The commission voiced concerns from the public that a creel limit of 50 is too restrictive and asked for consideration of a 100 fish limit.  

Brook Trout: Remove the 6 inch minimum length limit.

A review of existing wild trout regulations determined that this regulation is not warranted. This change will simplify statewide regulations.  

Add air rifles to the list of equipment that may not be used to shoot fish and turtles.

This addition clarifies that air rifles may not be used. 

Muskellunge: No recommendations.

TWRA staff received numerous comments about muskellunge in the past year.  TWRA attempted to survey musky anglers at Bull Run Steam Plant this past winter, but the fishery was non-existent because the steam plant was not operating.  Given favorable fishing conditions, TWRA will conduct the survey this coming winter. TWRA is also funding a research project on musky population dynamics on the Collins River. TWRA managers want to have the results from both of these studies when they consider musky regulations for 2014.    

Region 1

Kentucky Lake: Redear Sunfish – Reduce creel limit from 30 to 20 per day.

This change makes the statewide regulations more uniform and distributes harvest among more anglers. 

Pickwick Lake:  Smallmouth Bass – reduce minimum size limit from 18 to 15 inches.

TWRA is working with fisheries managers in Alabama and Mississippi to create uniform regulations for bass species in Pickwick Reservoir. 

Carroll County Lake: This is a newly created lake that will be open to fishing on March 23, 2013.  The following regulations have typically been successful on new lakes in Tennessee.

      Largemouth Bass – 18-inch minimum length limit, creel limit of 2 per day.

      Bluegill/Redear Sunfish – No length limit, creel limit of 20 per day in combination.

      Crappie (all species) – 10-inch minimum length limit, creel limit of 30 per day in combination.

      Blue/Channel Catfish - No length limit, creel limit of 5 per day in combination. 

Herb Parsons Lake and Whiteville Lake: 

      Crappie (all species) - Reduce minimum size limit from 10 to 8 inches.

    Crappie populations in these lakes are over-crowded resulting in slow growth rates that will not allow fish to reach the existing 10-inch minimum length limit.  An 8-inch minimum length limit will reduce the crowding problem and allow more harvest for anglers.

 
Region 2

Liberty Park Lake (Clarksville): Catfish – Establish a 5 per day creel limit.

Catfish are stocked into this lake by TWRA, and the supply is limited.  A creel limit would allow more anglers to benefit from the stocking program.  

Region 3

Cordell Hull Lake: Largemouth Bass  – Change the current regulation from a 17 to 23 inch slot limit (protected length range) to a 16-21 inch slot limit, allowing harvest of 3 under 16 inches and 2 fish over 21 inches. 

After a few years of evaluation TWRA biologist have concluded that the existing protected length range is slightly high.  Lowering the lengths in the protected range would be more appropriate for the bass population and more acceptable to local anglers.  

Parksville Lake:  Spotted Bass – No creel limit on spotted bass and they do not count towards the daily creel limit of black bass (5) in combination with smallmouth and largemouth bass. 

TWRA is encouraging the harvest of Alabama spotted bass which have been illegally introduced into Parksville Lake. These exotic fish have the potential to hybridize with smallmouth bass. 

Region 4

Cherokee Reservoir: Walleye, Sauger, and Saugeye – Change the current regulation from an 18-inch minimum length limit on walleye with a 5 fish creel to a 15-inch minimum length limit on all three species with a creel limit of 10 per day in combination. 

Natural reproduction of these species is very limited in Cherokee Reservoir and the fishery is supported by hatchery stockings by TWRA.  Therefore the existing 18-inch minimum length limit which was originally designed to protect spawning fish is unwarranted. TWRA will continue to stock these species and anglers can harvest more fish with a lower length limit. 

TWRA Regions 3 and 4 - Wild Trout Streams

Several changes are proposed for wild trout streams that are located in the Cherokee National Forest.   The following trout streams which currently have more restrictive regulations will be managed under the statewide regulations for rainbow, brown and brook trout (creel limit of 7 per day in combination, with no size limits): North Fork Citico, South Fork Citico, Gee Creek, Wolf Creek, Higgins Creek, Squibb Creek, Sarvis Cove, Dry Creek, Rough Ridge Creek, and Little Jacob Creek. The following trout streams and their tributaries will have a 5 trout creel limit with a single hook artificial lure restriction:  North River, Bald River, Sycamore Creek, Paint Creek, Rocky Fork (upstream of the campground to the Forest Service boundary), Laurel Fork, Left Prong Hampton Creek, and Beaverdam Creek. This reflects an increase in creel limits for some streams and the elimination of a 9-inch minimum length limit for rainbow and brown trout on others.

These changes were designed to simplify the trout fishing regulations and modify length and creel limits that were not warranted.   

2013 Commercial Fishing Regulation Proposals 

Establish new quotas for commercial permits. Roe permits would be limited to 70 resident and 30 non-resident permits. Turtle permits would be limited to 35 resident and 5 non-resident permits. 

The new quotas are designed to limit participation.  

Allow bow fishing as a legal method for harvesting Asian carp. 

This additional gear will give commercial fishers another means to harvest Asian carp. 

Turtles may be taken by hand or dipnet. 

These additional gears will give commercial turtle license holders more options for harvesting turtles.  

Nets must be properly buoyed.  All nets shall be marked using a buoy that floats on top of the water.  The buoy shall be 4 inches by 6 inches or larger. The name and current license number of the commercial fisher using the gear must be on or attached to the buoy. 

This regulation was mandated by state law and specifics for the proclamation were provided by the Commercial Fishing Advisory Committee. 

Identify refuges/WMAs that are open to commercial and sport fishing.  The following language will be added to the commercial fishing proclamation to clarify areas open to commercial fishing. 

SECTION I. STATE WATERS, WMA’S AND REFUGE’S OPEN TO COMMERCIAL FISHING 

Pursuant to T.C.A. 70-1-101, State Wildlife Management Areas and State Refuges have been defined as a specific land, water area or both that have been established for specific purposes relating to management and protection of wildlife and habitat.  Waters bordering a State WMA or State Refuge at high river stage, such as oxbows, sloughs, and backwaters accessible by boat from the river or reservoir are open to commercial fishing unless otherwise specified.  No water can be accessed by dragging, pulling or running a boat over a land barrier to another waterbody.  All impoundments and sub-impoundments are closed to commercial fishing.     

WMA and REFUGES 

    Group A:  The following is open, both land and water areas, year-round to trotlines, hoop nets, fyke nets, pound nets, trap nets, gill nets, trammel nets, slat baskets, cast nets, turtle traps, dip net and hand caught, unless otherwise specified. 

  1. Reelfoot WMA – except that portion within the boundaries of the Reelfoot State Resort

    Park and the Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge. 

    Group B:  Listed State WMA and State Refuge water areas accessible by boat from the main river channel are open with the following restrictions.  State Refuges are closed Nov. 15 – to the last day of February to all forms of use and trespass, except fishing is permitted on the main river channel; State WMA waters accessible by boat from the main river channel are closed November 15 to February 15. 

  1. Dyson Ditch Refuge –  Commercial fishers must contract with TWRA and abide by the

             Cheatham reservoir commercial contract provisions as determined by TWRA in

             order to fish commercially. 

  1. Hiwassee Refuge
 
  1. Old Hickory Lock 5 Refuge – Commercial fishers must contract with TWRA and abide

    by the contract provisions as determined by TWRA in order to fish commercially. 

    1. Trammel nets, gill nets, and fyke nets are prohibited from Highway 231 upstream to Cordell Hull Dam.
 
  1. Pardue Pond Refuge – Commercial fishers must contract with TWRA and abide by the

          Cheatham reservoir commercial contract provisions as determined by TWRA in

          order to fish commercially. 

  1. Barkley WMA (Unit 2)
 
  1. Cheatham Lake WMA –  Commercial fishers must contract with TWRA and abide by the

            Cheatham reservoir commercial contract provisions as determined by TWRA in

            order to fish commercially.  

    1. The closed season does not apply to that portion of the Harpeth River downstream from State Highway 49 Bridge.
 
  1. Obion River WMA
 
  1. Old Hickory WMA
 
    1. Trammel nets, gill nets, and fyke nets are prohibited from Highway 231

       upstream to Cordell Hull Dam.  

    1. Trammel nets, gill nets, and fyke nets are prohibited from Highway 109

          upstream to 231 except fishing of legal entanglement gear by whipset or

          trammeling method are permitted by contract with TWRA. 

  1. Tigrett WMA 

The TFWC will vote on the fishing proposals at its October meeting that will be held Oct. 26 at Reelfoot Lake State Park near Tiptonville. If approved, the changes would become effective March 1, 2013.  


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