The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission's fisheries approved a slate of new fishing regulations Thursday at the commission's monthly meeting at Little Rock.
When the regulations were proposed in August, 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. Batten said that surveys reveal that 44 of the regulations enjoy strong or mild support from the public.
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.
• Removing the daily creel limit on white bass at Greers Ferry Lake and allowing anglers to keep unlimited numbers of white bass. White bass are lightly pressured at Greers Ferry, Batten said, and they compete with more desirable game fish for forage.
• Removing the 20-28 protective slot limit for walleye at Greers Ferry Lake and implementing a 14-inch minimum length limit. Batten said that 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:
• Removing all special regulations for cutthroat trout on the Spring River.
• Removing all special regulations for brook trout on the Spring River. Batten said that stocking cutthroat trout on the Spring River has not been particularly successful, and that the Game and Fish Commission stopped stocking brook trout on the Spring River in 1995. Special regulations for both species are not necessary to sustain successful fisheries, Batten said.
• Removing special creel limits for striped bass and hybrid striped bass at Bull Shoals Lake.
• Removing the daily limit for crappie at Lake Frierson.
• Removing the daily limit for crappie at Lake Hogue.
• Removing the daily limit for channel catfish at Lake Erling.
• Removing the reduced black bass daily limit at De Queen Lake and replacing it with the statewide daily limit.
• 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.
• 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 to statewide regulations.
Other 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 age 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 from two fish per day to one fish.
• 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.
• Limiting the number of free-fishing devices and yo-yos being used to 25 of each per person.
• Implementing a 10-inch minimum length limit for crappie at Lake Dardanelle.