NASHVILLE (press release)—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 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.