To improve all trout species in the Bull Shoals and Norfork tailwaters, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is considering new trout fishing regulations.
Christy Graham, the Game and Fish Commission's trout program coordinator, presented the proposed regulations to the commission during its monthly work meeting Wednesday in Little Rock. She said the proposals resulted from a multipronged effort to get input from various trout fishing interests including trout fishing guides, consumptive anglers and fly fishermen.
Trout management program employees held two public workshops in August where participants expressed the things they like and dislike about the trout fisheries in the Bull Shoals and Norfork tailwaters. They also identified their preferred management options for the fisheries.
The biologists also gathered public input from a 2015-2016 Bull Shoals and Norfork creel survey, a 2017 mail survey sent to Bull Shoals and Norfork anglers and a 2017 mail survey sent to Bull Shoals and Norfork trout fishing guides.
Additional input arrived through emails, letters and phone calls.
Angler input was matched with biological sampling data to determine which management option would be most likely to improve the fishery and satisfy the desires of the anglers.
Anglers expressed a desire for bigger trout of all species that the AGFC stocks in the tailwaters, including brown, rainbow, cutthroat and brook. The proposed regulations are geared to that goal and apply to the White River from Bull Shoals Dam to the Highway 58 Bridge and the entire Norfork tailwater.
The proposed regulations, which follow, are designed to achieve that result.
• Anglers may keep no more than five trout per day, but only one trout -- including rainbow trout -- may be longer than 14 inches.
• Increase the minimum length limit for brown trout to 24 inches. You may not keep a 24-inch or longer brown trout if you keep a 14-inch or longer rainbow trout or brook trout.
• Increase the minimum length limit for cutthroat trout to 24 inches. You may not keep a 24-inch or longer cutthroat trout if you keep a 14-inch or longer rainbow trout, a 14-inch or longer brook trout or a 24-inch or longer brown trout.
• Increase the minimum length limit for brook trout to 14 inches, with a daily limit of one. You may not keep a 14-inch or longer brook trout if you keep a 14-inch or longer rainbow trout or 24-inch or longer brown or cutthroat trout.
• Anglers will be limited to a single hooking point per pole for bait fishing in the Bull Shoals and Norfork tailwaters.
• Enlarging the Rim Shoals Catch and Release Area from the mouth of Jenkins Creek to the mouth of Dry Creek. This will expand the length of the Rim Shoals Catch and Release Area by about two miles.
• Special regulations will be lifted for the section of the White River from the upstream end of Monkey Island to Moccasin Creek. This will eliminate the Monkey Island Catch and Release area. Catch-and-release regulations have not resulted in a larger number of big trout in that area, Graham said.
The Bull Shoals and Norfork tailwaters are the only trout streams in the world where you can catch rainbow, brown, cutthroat and brookies.
New regulations were not proposed for the Little Red River below Greers Ferry Dam. Tom Richardson, a highly accomplished, well-connected trout fishing expert, said that brown trout are now the dominant species by far in the Little Red River.
The AGFC reduced the number of trout it stocks in the Little Red, Richardson said, but the result was bigger, healthier individual fish.
Stocking crappie in large bodies of water is probably a waste of time and money.
Steve Lochmann, professor of aquaculture and fisheries at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, briefed the commission Wednesday about the efficacy of stocking crappie in lakes.
The point of stocking crappie is so anglers will catch them, Lochmann said, but that doesn't happen enough to justify the effort.
"Hatchery contributions one year after stocking are variable, but 72 percent of time it is zero," Lochmann said.
Typically, crappie produce an outstanding year class once every five or six years, Lochmann said, but as with any species, the availability of habitat govern spawning and recruitment success.
"You can't stock your way out of bad habitat," Lochmann said.
Sports on 10/22/2017
Print Headline: AGFC mulling trout regulations in tailwaters