The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission established the state’s 2018-19 sport fish and commercial fishing regulations at its September meeting which concluded Wednesday at the Edgewater Hotel and Convention Center.
The establishment of next year’s sport fish regulations and commercial fishing proclamations were among the items on the agenda and the two-day meeting held for the first time in several years in Gatlinburg. Tennessee Wildlife Resources Fisheries Division Chief Frank Fiss had presented proposals at the August meeting.
The changes to the sport fish proclamation include closing upper Cherokee Reservoir to snagging from March 1 through May 31, except during the snagging season (April 1-15). The purpose of the closures is to protect paddlefish from over-harvest.
Another change reduces the area on the Elk River of Watauga Reservoir that has a hook restriction during January through April. The change allows anglers to use all types fishing gear in this section of the river year round. An additional change opens delayed harvest trout fishing areas on Doe River in Carter County and Buffalo Creek in Grainger County.
An amendment made during the presentation allows a no creel or size limit on crappie taken from Herb Parsons Lake to alleviate an overabundance of small crappie. The goal is to improve the size structure of the crappie population. Herb Parsons Lake is located in Fayette County.
In regard to commercial fishing, a proposed proclamation would allow commercial fishermen to harvest Asian carp from Open and Chisholm lakes in Lauderdale County adjacent to the Mississippi River. Fishermen would need landowner permission and have to tend their gill-nets at all times. The proclamation also allows commercial fisherman to harvest Asian carp from Willow Chute and Rhodes Lake in Moss Island Wildlife Management Area.
In addition to the setting of the sport fish and commercial regulations, TWRA Fisheries Division Chief Frank Fiss announced Duane Oyer as fisheries biologist of the year and Rob Theurer as the technician of the year. Mr. Theurer serves as the manager of Buffalo Springs Hatchery in Grainger County. He is a member of the fisheries staff at Tellico Hatchery in Monroe County.
Doug Markham, TWRA communications manager, made a presentation on various aspects on TWRA’s media campaign to inform the public about chronic wasting disease (CWD) and efforts to keep it out of Tennessee. The campaign to bring the awareness will come though digital, print, and social media.
The commission viewed a couple of video presentations that have already been produced. The deadly disease, which would have a devastating impact on Tennessee’s deer and elk populations, is now located in 24 states, including portions of three border states, Arkansas, Missouri, and Virginia.
Chuck Yoest, assistant chief of the Wildlife and Forestry Division, gave a report on the opening day of dove season. The Sept. 1 opening date was affected by tropical storm Harvey which hampered the numbers, especially in Middle Tennessee. The 1,008 dove reported harvested on opening day in TWRA Region II was about less than half year’s total. There were 4,503 reported harvests in TWRA Region I (West Tennessee), 2,086 in Region III (Cumberland Plateau, Chattanooga area), and 4,503 in Region IV (East Tennessee).
Knoxville resident Sam Venable, who was named to the Tennessee Hunter Education Instructor Hall of Fame earlier, was introduced to the commission and presented with his award. An award-winning outdoors writer and author of 13 books, he was the outdoors editor of Knoxville News-Sentinel when he helped begin the Knoxville News-Sentinel Hunter Safety Clinic in 1973. He is the 20th person to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
The meeting included a welcome to the commission and the TWRA by Gatlinburg City Manager Cindy Ogle. She spoke on the impact of last fall’s deadly wild fires in the area and thanked the TWRA for its assistance during the disaster.
Jordon Clayton, superintendent for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park also welcomed the commission to the area. Bill Stiver, wildlife biologist for the park also made a presentation on the partnership between the National Park Service and TWRA.