2015-16 Fishing Regulations Set at TFWC Meeting
NASHVILLE --- The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission established the 2015-16 sport fish regulations during its December meeting which concluded Friday afternoon at the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s Ray Bell Region II Building.
The regulations, which are normally set at the October meeting, were postponed until this meeting. This TFWC’s October decision to delay the action allowed time for the public to comment on a recently proposed amendment to the proclamation concerning harvest regulations for smallmouth bass on Douglas Lake.
In addition to changes proposed at the October meeting, the new proclamation also changes smallmouth bass regulations on Douglas Lake. From June 15 through Oct. 15, there will be a 20-inch minimum length limit on smallmouth bass, and only one smallmouth bass may be kept in the daily creel limit of 5 bass (in combination with largemouth and spotted bass). From Oct.16 through June 14, there will be an 18-inch minimum length on smallmouth bass with a 5 fish creel limit (in combination with largemouth and spotted bass).
The new sport fish regulations become effective on March 1, 2015.
The TFWC approved the TWRA’s recommendation for a change in the commercial fishing proclamation. Commercial fishermen have unlimited use of gill nets statewide except for the holders of a paddlefish permit. Those permit holders will be limited to 12 gill nets with a mesh size of 6 inches or greater (or 5 inches or greater on the Mississippi River) during the paddlefish season.
Outside of paddlefish season a commercial roe fish permit holder can fish an unlimited number of gillnets. The amended proclamation also clarifies that paddlefish can only be taken from gillnets with the legal bar mesh size of 6 inch or greater from noon on Nov. 20 through April 7, except for the Mississippi River where 5 inch bar mesh is only legal from Nov. 15 through April 15.
Fisheries Division Chief Bobby Wilson gave an overview of the TWRA’s fish stocking program. This included historical reasons on why the agency stocks, where stocking is conducted and the number of fish stocked, plus why the agency does not stock some species, including largemouth bass.
Barry Smith from the American Sport Fish Hatchery in Montgomery, Ala. made a presentation on his organization’s Florida bass stocking program. The organization has stocked Florida bass in waters across the country.
Scott Somershoe, TWRA Ornithologist, gave a preview of the upcoming new birding trails website. The new site has been developed by TWRA and the Tennessee Ornithological Society to compliment the Watchable Wildlife website. A launch for the new website will be announced at a later date.
The Watchable Wildlife website will be celebrating its fifth anniversary in January. Since its launch, the site has more than 600,000 users including 225,000 new users so far in 2014.
Dr. John F. McFadden, of the Tennessee Environmental Council, gave a presentation on the Tennessee Tree Project. The Tennessee Environmental Council has received grants to perform riparian buffer reforestation work throughout Tennessee over the past seven years, planting several thousand trees along waterways. The program has in part been funded through the TWRA’s Ecological Services Division.
Due to time constraints, three scheduled presentations were tabled until the January meeting. This includes the Wildlife and Forestry Division’s updates on Chronic Waste Disease (CWD) and TWRA’s efforts to keep the disease from entering the state, wild hog management, and a presentation from TWRA Information and Education Division Chief Don King on the new television program, Tennessee Uncharted.
The meeting was the TFWC’s final of the year. The first meeting of 2015 will be held Jan. 15-16 in Union City at the Discovery Park of America.