(Updated June 5, 2015)
COMMISSION SETS TWO BUCK LIMIT EFFECTIVE WITH STATE'S 2015-16 HUNTING SEASONS
The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission (TFWC) has voted to reduce the white-tailed buck limit for the 2015-16 seasons. Deer hunters will now be able to take a total of two bucks throughout the deer hunting seasons.
After months of discussion and consideration, the action came during the TFWC's May meeting which concluded Friday at the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency's Ray Bell Region III Building.
The TFWC also approved the motion to extend the season for antlerless deer in Unit L counties for five days following the conclusion of the regular deer season in January. The hunting opportunities for antlerless deer will now extend through the day before the Young Sportsman Hunt.
"This issue has created more public discussion than any I can remember, which demonstrates the passion of our state's deer hunters," said TFWC Chairman Jim Bledsoe of Jamestown. "We share that passion, and we have spent a lot of time exploring the harvest data and working with our TWRA biologists to develop this proposal.
"We are focused on enhancing hunter opportunity, and only a small percentage of hunters have historically taken three bucks in a year. We believe that protecting this small percentage of antlered deer will have a positive impact on the percentage of mature deer in the herd. Within a few years, we should be able to measure the benefit."
Deer harvest data from the 2014-15 season, gathered from the mandatory big game check-in process and field surveys, showed that less than 2,700 of 240,000 Tennessee deer hunters took a full limit of three bucks.
TWRA Executive Director Ed Carter said that, from a herd management standpoint, some areas in Middle and West Tennessee could benefit from the anticipated increased doe harvest where overall deer population numbers need to be stabilized, or in some cases decreased.
"Many of our deer hunters are filling their freezer, and we encourage that – our state's deer herd is generally healthy and strong," said Carter. "We have to continue to manage the numbers so that the deer population can continue to grow in places where it is below optimal levels, but maintain or decrease those numbers in other areas.
"This new approach of a reduced buck limit may result in an increased doe harvest in certain parts of the state and ideally will increase the harvest of mature bucks over time. It is unlikely that we will see a decrease in the overall annual deer harvest as a result of these changes."
Crappie Regulation Changes Proposed for Flood Control Reservoirs and Eagle Lake
The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP) Fisheries Bureau announced a proposal to change crappie regulations on Arkabutla, Enid, Sardis, and Grenada Lakes, also known as the Flood Control Reservoirs (FCRs), and Eagle Lake. The proposal for the FCRs will make the regulations uniform across all of the lakes. The proposed rule consists of making the minimum length crappie that anglers can keep 12 inches, setting the daily creel limit to 15 fish per angler, and limiting the number of poles an angler can use to three. In addition, boats with 3 or more anglers will be able to keep 40 crappie per boat. Daily creel limits in the FCRs' spillways, including Sardis Lower Lake, will be reduced to15 fish per angler.
"The proposed rules for the FCRs are intended to maintain our top-ranked, nationally recognized crappie fisheries", said Larry Pugh, MDWFP Fisheries Bureau Director. "Having the same regulations on all of these lakes will also simplify regulations for the anglers", added Pugh.
Biologists Sample Tennessee River Basin for Invasive Asian Carp
Fisheries biologists recently sampled water from eight locations in the Tennessee River Basin to determine the presence or absence of genetic material from two invasive Asian carp species, bighead and silver carp, within reaches of the river system. The project was conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) from the Carterville Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office in Marion, Illinois, with assistance from the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division (WFF), the Mississippi Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Parks (MDWFP) and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA).
Three Asian carp species, grass, bighead and silver carp, have become established in the Mississippi River Basin and have severely impacted native fish populations, disturbed aquatic food webs and altered aquatic habitats in many locations in the Midwestern United States. Additionally, their relatively large size and the habit of silver carp to jump high above the surface of the water when disturbed by passing watercraft poses a serious safety concern for boaters. Populations of these nuisance fish have steadily expanded up many tributary streams of the Mississippi River and now threaten to invade and impact the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers and their tributaries.
In Alabama, WFF biologists assisted with the collection of water samples below Wilson, Wheeler and Guntersville dams on the Tennessee River as well as from two tributaries, Bear Creek and Elk River. MDWFP and TWRA biologists assisted in collecting samples at Bay Springs Lock and Dam on the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway in Mississippi and below Nickajack and Chickamauga dams in Tennessee. A total of 700 water samples were collected during this cooperative monitoring effort by the four agencies.
Collected water samples will be processed and analyzed by the USFWS's Whitney Genetics Lab in La Crosse, Wisconsin, for the presence of environmental DNA, or eDNA, unique to bighead and silver carps. EDNA can be left in the environment in the form of scales, cells, feces or mucus. At present, eDNA evidence cannot verify whether live Asian carp are present, whether the DNA may have come from a dead fish, or whether water containing Asian carp DNA may have been transported from other sources such as bilge water, storm sewers or fish-eating birds. Once processed, eDNA results from sampling in the Tennessee River Basin will be made available at: http://www.fws.gov/midwest/fisheries/eDNA.html.
The objective of this project is to establish the location of the leading edge of the upstream invasion by these species within the Tennessee River system. Bighead carp are already known to be established as far upriver as Wheeler Reservoir and silver carp are believed to be established as far upriver as Pickwick Reservoir. Silver carp appear to have the greatest potential to negatively impact Alabama's aquatic and fisheries resources and to present a hazard for boaters.
AGFC Urges Boaters to Use Caution on Area Lakes, Rivers and Launch Ramps
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is warning boaters to use extreme caution in and around the state's waters. Recent heavy rain and the forecast for more rain have rivers and lakes at dangerous levels.
Flooding rivers are particularly dangerous. During high flows, strong currents and large debris can threaten the safety of pleasure craft.
Water levels on lakes and reservoirs also are high across the state. The AGFC encourages the boating public to use extreme caution when boating at this time. Be aware of rapidly changing water conditions.
Some AGFC boat ramps may be indirectly closed as a result of county road closures due to flooding. Do not cross barricades to access these areas.
The most important thing to remember is to wear a life jacket at all times when boating under these conditions.
Prime Time for Kentucky Catfish
Warmer weather and water temperatures climbing into the 70s tell catfish that it's time to spawn, and anglers who pursue them know from experience the period from late spring into early summer is prime time.
Channel catfish, blue catfish and flathead catfish are the most sought after catfish species in Kentucky, and the most widely distributed of those is the channel catfish.
The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources annually stocks roughly 100,000 channel catfish across the state. About 30 percent of that amount is allocated to Fishing in Neighborhoods (FINs) lakes.
These popular urban fisheries can receive heavy fishing pressure but are stocked frequently with a variety of fish species to meet the demand. More than two dozen FINs lakes statewide are due to receive stocker-sized channel catfish this month. The stocking schedule for FINs lakes is available on Kentucky Fish and Wildlife's website at fw.ky.gov.
"A lot of the time the catfish do bite really well right after we stock them," said Dane Balsman, urban fisheries biologist for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. "And you don't have to have a really fancy set up to catch them."
From Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake in the west to the Ohio River to Dewey Lake, Fishtrap Lake and Yatesville Lake in eastern Kentucky, there is an abundance of places across Kentucky holding excellent populations of channel catfish.
The "Where to Fish" feature on Kentucky Fish and Wildlife's website is a handy tool for those looking to find a place to fish for catfish. As an example, anglers can search for waterbodies that hold channel, blue and flathead catfish and offer bank or fishing pier access.