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FISHING COMMENTS SOUGHT…ANGLERS ASKED FOR INPUT

By Steve McCadams

     Each year Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency asked the sport fishing public to voice any suggestions or concerns they may have regarding changes in regulations.

    From bass fishermen to crappie anglers and all those in-between, now is the time for you to formulate a letter or send an email to the agency and let them know what’s on your mind.

    Local anglers on Kentucky Lake this year are buzzing with discontent as to the present day crappie fishery. Not many anglers are catching decent numbers of keeper size and it has most mystified while others are downright disappointed.

    Granted it was a mean March and thus far April has been awful in terms of wind and weather patterns.

    The catches this year point toward several weak year classes in the three, four and five year class range. However, a lot of small fish---ranging from 4 and 5 inches to 8 ½ and 9 1/2 in length--- are being caught.

    Biologists say it takes about three years for a crappie to achieve the 10-inch length here on Kentucky Lake.

    Concern among the ranks seems to fuel more questions on how TWRA might better address the low numbers and trend of declining catch rates that have been underway now for the last few years.

    Would reducing the daily creel limit from a liberal 30 down to 20 help better distribute the fish among the masses of anglers? Many feel it would. Others have no opinion and some don’t won’t to change a thing.

    Are you satisfied with the way things are going? Many states surrounding states---and the Kentucky portion of Kentucky Lake---have implemented lower creel limits. Some have taken additional steps to address fishing pressure and poor recruitment.

    Generally speaking, the public has been willing to accept changes in fishing regulations if they thought it might improve the overall scenario. However, there are never regulations made that please everyone.

    Should what appears to be oncoming numbers of small fish have a regulation change to help escort more of them into the keeper size category of 10-inches and above? Would a higher length limit help that too, although most anglers don’t appear to be in favor of going too far and raising minimum length limits at a time when keeper fish are a bit hard to come by anyway?    

    Meanwhile, if two anglers in a boat have a good day culling out 40 keeper size crappie on an outing, landing limits and boasting about it to fellow fishermen---assuming the limit was lowered to twenty daily---are they not happy and satisfied?

    If they kept fishing and caught twenty more in order to say they had the limit would that better satisfy or would those twenty fish left in the lake give other anglers a better chance of catching some too? How many is enough?

    Today’s crappie angler is much better at finding and catching fish than his predecessors of yesteryear. Better technology and equipment are at his fingertips. And more anglers winter fish too, adding even more pressure to a fishery that in times past did not have a lot of winter activity.

    Fishing techniques have changed too and the multi-pole presentations are known to harvest a lot of fish once suspended schools are located and the word gets out.

     TWRA’s fisheries biologists said last year their data showed weak year classes of crappie---influenced by droughts in years past---were part of the problem and recruitment was weak. Should the management plan just wait and let the cycles run their course, hoping the degradation trend reverses itself?

    These ideas and more are up to you, the sport fishermen. TWRA is in the process of seeking public comment on fishing regulations and the agency is asking for your input.

    Several TWRA wildlife commissioners are getting their ears filled with calls from concerned fishermen this spring.

    This is an opportunity for the public to share ideas and concerns about fishing regulations with TWRA staff.

Public comments will be considered by fisheries managers and may be presented as proposals for regulation changes.

     Comments may be submitted by mail to: Fish Comments, TWRA, Fisheries Management Division, P.O. 40747, Nashville, TN 37204 or emailed to FishingReg.Comments@tn.gov. Please include “Fish Comments” on the subject line of emailed submissions.

    The fishing regulations are usually set each year during the October meeting by the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission.

    The comment period concerning fishing regulations will be open until April 30.

 


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