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OPINION | ARKANSAS SPORTSMAN: AGFC sizes up fishing regulations

by Bryan Hendricks | August 20, 2020 at 2:12 a.m.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission's fisheries division submitted 46 new fishing regulations for consideration Wednesday at the commission's monthly work meeting at Little Rock.

Ben Batten, assistant director for the Game and Fish Commission, said that most of the regulations liberalize existing fishing opportunities, and others clarify existing regulations. Only a few are more restrictive than existing regulations.

Three regulations involve fishing at Greers Ferry Lake, including:

• Reducing the minimum length limit for keeping largemouth bass at Greers Ferry Lake to 12 inches. The current minimum length limit is 15 inches.

• Allowing anglers to keep unlimited numbers of white bass at Greers Ferry Lake. White bass are lightly pressured at Greers Ferry, Batten said, and they compete with more desirable game fish for forage.

• Replacing the 20-28 protective slot limit for walleye at Greers Ferry Lake with a a 14-inch minimum length limit. Batten said few anglers pursue walleyes at Greers Ferry, and enabling anglers to keep bigger walleyes will not damage the walleye population.

Proposed trout fishing regulations include:

• Allowing boaters to use drag chains on the Lake Norfork tailwater.

• Removing all special regulations for cutthroat trout and brook trout on the Spring River.

Batten said that stocking cutthroat trout on the Spring River has not been successful, and that the Game and Fish Commission stopped stocking brook trout on the Spring River in 1995.

• Removing special creel limits for striped bass and hybrid striped bass at Bull Shoals Lake. There will be no limit on stripers and hybrids on Bull Shoals.

• Removing the daily limit for crappie at Lake Frierson and Lake Hogue.

• Removing the daily limit for white bass at Bob Kidd Lake in Washington County.

• Removing the daily limit for channel catfish at Lake Erling.

• Increasing the daily limit for black bass at DeQueen Lake to 10.

• Removing the 18-21 inch slot length limit for largemouth bass on Lower White Oak Lake. The proposed regulation will allow anglers to keep one bass per day larger than 20 inches. Currently, anglers may keep only one bass larger than 21 inches.

• Removing the 15-inch minimum length limit for largemouth bass on Big Lake.

• Eliminating the "under 16-inch" size restriction for the bonus 10 catfish on the Arkansas River.

• Increasing the daily creel limit for largemouth bass on Lake Atkins from four per day -- with one fish larger than 21 inches -- to 10 per day, with one fish over 21 inches.

• Increasing the daily creel limit for spotted bass by 10 at lakes Ouachita, DeGray and Greeson.

• Removing the catch-and-release restriction for smallmouth bass at Lake Ouachita.

• Removing the catch-and-release restriction for largemouth bass at Lake June, and implementing a 16-inch minimum length limit for largemouth bass with a daily creel limit of five per day.

• Opening crappie fishing at Lake June, according to statewide regulations.

• Opening bream fishing at Lake June, according to statewide regulations.

"Folks are just dying to keep fish at Lake June, and our surveys show that the fishery can support harvest," Batten said.

Some restrictive regulations include:

• Reducing the creel limit for crappie at Blue Mountain Lake from 30 per day to 20.

• Requiring that boat plugs be removed from all boats before leaving a loading area. This regulation will apply to duck hunters, as well.

• Requiring anglers to check trotlines and limblines every 48 hours and removing them when not in use.

• Requiring anglers ages 16 and older to have a trout fishing permit to fish in the Spring River trout waters.

• Limiting anglers on the Spring River to keeping one trout larger than 14 inches and reducing the brown trout limit on the Spring River from two fish per day to one.

• Establishing a daily limit for tiger trout on the Bull Shoals and Lake Norfork tailwaters to one fish over 24 inches.

• Establishing a catch-and-release regulation for smallmouth bass fishing on Lake Catherine.

The commission will vote on the regulations at its next meeting in September.


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