The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission approved the state’s 2014-15 sport fish regulations during its October meeting which concluded Friday at the Meadowview Conference Center.
Anglers will find few changes to next year’s proclamations. Regulations were changed to allow the harvest of crayfish for food in most areas of the state. A complete list of the changes will be available at the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s website, www.tnwildlife.org.
Some of the major changes include a 15-inch length limit (from 14-inch) on sauger in Kentucky Lake; a 50-inch limit on muskellunge on rivers in the Caney Fork watershed; and sauger and walleye regulations on Fort Loudoun, Melton Hill, and Chilhowee reservoirs will follow the statewide regulations.
The paddlefish season on Cherokee Reservoir was changed to April 1 through April 15. Concerning Polk County streaks, Greasy Creek was added to the list in the county that will be closed to fishing on Fridays when the stream is stocked with trout.
In other items at the October meeting, a report was given on the distribution of the permits for the state’s upcoming first sandhill crane hunt. At a drawing last Saturday, at the Birchwood Community Center in north Hamilton County, 266 permit applicants were submitted.
The Fisheries Division presented its annual awards to its technician and biologist of the year. Darrell “Bones” Bernd of Region II was named the Technician of the Year. Mike “Stump” Smith of Region IV is the Biologist of the Year.
The remaining 134 permits were made available across the state at the four regional offices of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. The permits were completely distributed in less than three hours.
All sandhill crane permit holders must pass an internet-based crane identification test before hunting. The test is now available online.
The sandhill crane hunting season begins with the late waterfowl season on Nov. 28 and runs through Jan. 1, 2014. The zone for sandhill crane hunting is limited to southeast Tennessee, south of Interstate 40 and east of State Highway 56.
A report was given on Tennessee quail program by Wildlife and Forestry Division Chief Daryl Ratajczak. The quail population has seen a dramatic decrease in recent years. The commission heard a report on past and future management practices.
The goals of the recently-launched Bear Wise Program were provided by Region IV Wildlife Manager Dan Gibbs. Tennessee’s bear population has seen an increase in recent years. The program will help educate the public on dealing with bears and helping to prevent them from becoming a nuisance.
Major Brian Ripley gave an update on law enforcement in Region IV. He spoke about several cases involving bears, including baiting, trapping, and closed season incidents in the region.
The National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) has seen growth and expanded into Bristol city schools last year. Kristie Coleman, a program assistant with the Bristol system, spoke to the TFWC about the benefits of the program. Elementary and middle school students were present for a demonstration.
The TFWC will return to Nashville for its next meeting. It will be held Dec. 5-6 in Nashville.