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HomeNewsTennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission approves 2013-2014 Fishing Regulations

Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission approves 2013-2014 Fishing Regulations

Liberty Park Lake, Clarksville TN: Catfish – Established a 5 per day Creel Limit

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency - TWRATiptonville, TN – The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission approved the 2013-14 fishing regulations at its October meeting which concluded Friday afternoon and was held near Reelfoot State Park.

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency officials made the original recommendations at the TFWC’s August meeting in Nashville.

Next year’s regulations changes include umbrella/Alabama rigs, skipjack herring, wild trout streams, walleye on Cherokee Reservoir, and bass on Pickwick, Parksville and Cordell Hull reservoirs. Other new regulations limit the number of commercial fishing permits and define waters within certain wildlife management areas open to commercial fishing.

One of the most discussed topics this past year concerned Alabama rigs (fishing lures).  Regulations surrounding multi-lure arrays created much confusion among anglers and TWRA staff this past year.

“The 3-hook changes is much simpler to interpret and offers a compromise between anglers that wish to fish five hooks with those that feel only one hook should be used on multi-lure arrays,” said Bobby Wilson, TWRA Chief of Fisheries Division.

Single point, double point, and treble (3 points) hooks would each be counted as one hook.  Sabiki type rigs will be permitted. A sabiki type rig is typically used to catch bait fish.

A new regulation is a first-ever creel limit on skipjack herring of 100 per day (200 possession limit). Skipjack are a popular baitfish. There is growing concern among biologists and anglers that this practice should be limited to prevent overfishing.

The regulations become effective March 1st, 2013.

The Fisheries Division also presented a pair of annual awards. Rick Bivens was named as the 2012 Fisheries Biologist of the Year. He joined the TWRA in 1980 and works as a Wildlife Manager III in Region IV. Jeff Sanders, an employee at the Flintville Hatchery in Region II for the past 25 years, was named the Fisheries Technician of the Year.

Ray Garton, who was named the TWRA’s Wildlife Officer of the Year for the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA), was introduced to the commission. Garton serves as a wildlife officer in Region I and was also honored at the annual SEAFWA meeting earlier this month in Arkansas.

The TFWC will hold its next meeting November 30th in Nashville at TWRA’s Region II Ray Bell Building.

2013-14 Sport Fishing Regulation Changes


Allow only three hooks (single, double, or treble) per rod. Sabiki rigs will be permitted.

This hook restriction would apply to all anglers, but it is designed to simplify rules that apply to the use of multi-wire arrays, such as umbrella rigs and Alabama rigs.

Skipjack Herring: Establish a creel limit of either 100 per day, no size limit.

Recent observations of anglers harvesting hundreds of skipjack per trip and a growing concern about the lack of skipjack at some locations suggests that a creel limit should be established to avoid overfishing of skipjack. The commission voiced concerns from the public that a creel limit of 50 is too restrictive and asked for consideration of a 100 fish limit.

Brook Trout: Remove the 6 inch minimum length limit.

A review of existing wild trout regulations determined that this regulation is not warranted. This change will simplify statewide regulations.

Add air rifles to the list of equipment that may not be used to shoot fish and turtles. This addition clarifies that air rifles may not be used.

Muskellunge: No recommendations.

TWRA staff received numerous comments about muskellunge in the past year. TWRA attempted to survey musky anglers at Bull Run Steam Plant this past winter, but the fishery was non-existent because the steam plant was not operating. Given favorable fishing conditions, TWRA will conduct the survey this coming winter. TWRA is also funding a research project on musky population dynamics on the Collins River. TWRA managers want to have the results from both of these studies when they consider musky regulations for 2014.

Region 1

Kentucky Lake: Redear Sunfish – Reduce creel limit from 30 to 20 per day.

This change makes the statewide regulations more uniform and distributes harvest among more anglers.

Pickwick Lake: Smallmouth Bass – reduce minimum size limit from 18 to 15 inches.

TWRA is working with fisheries managers in Alabama and Mississippi to create uniform regulations for bass species in Pickwick Reservoir.

Carroll County Lake: This is a newly created lake that will be open to fishing on March 23rd, 2013. The following regulations have typically been successful on new lakes in Tennessee.

Largemouth Bass – 18-inch minimum length limit, creel limit of 2 per day.

Bluegill/Redear Sunfish – No length limit, creel limit of 20 per day in combination.

Crappie (all species) – 10-inch minimum length limit, creel limit of 30 per day in combination.

Blue/Channel Catfish – No length limit, creel limit of 5 per day in combination.

Herb Parsons Lake and Whiteville Lake:

Crappie (all species) – Reduce minimum size limit from 10 to 8 inches.

Crappie populations in these lakes are over-crowded resulting in slow growth rates that will not allow fish to reach the existing 10-inch minimum length limit. An 8-inch minimum length limit will reduce the crowding problem and allow more harvest for anglers.

Region 2

Liberty Park Lake (Clarksville): Catfish – Establish a 5 per day creel limit.

Catfish are stocked into this lake by TWRA, and the supply is limited. A creel limit would allow more anglers to benefit from the stocking program.

Region 3

Cordell Hull Lake: Largemouth Bass – Change the current regulation from a 17 to 23 inch slot limit protected length range) to a 16-21 inch slot limit, allowing harvest of 3 under 16 inches and 2 fish over 21 inches.

After a few years of evaluation TWRA biologist have concluded that the existing protected length range is slightly high. Lowering the lengths in the protected range would be more appropriate for the bass population and more acceptable to local anglers.

Parksville Lake: Spotted Bass – No creel limit on spotted bass and they do not count towards the daily creel limit of black bass (5) in combination with smallmouth and largemouth bass.TWRA is encouraging the harvest of Alabama spotted bass which have been illegally introduced into Parksville Lake. These exotic fish have the potential to hybridize with smallmouth bass.

Region 4

Cherokee Reservoir: Walleye, Sauger, and Saugeye – Change the current regulation from an 18-inch minimum length limit on walleye with a 5 fish creel to a 15-inch minimum length limit on all three species with a creel limit of 10 per day in combination.

Natural reproduction of these species is very limited in Cherokee Reservoir and the fishery is supported by hatchery stockings by TWRA. Therefore the existing 18-inch minimum length limit which was originally designed to protect spawning fish is unwarranted. TWRA will continue to stock these species and anglers can harvest more fish with a lower length limit.

TWRA Regions 3 and 4 – Wild Trout Streams

Several changes are proposed for wild trout streams that are located in the Cherokee National Forest. The following trout streams which currently have more restrictive regulations and will be managed under the statewide regulations for rainbow, brown and brook trout (creel limit of 7 per day in combination, with no size limits): North Fork Citico and tributaries, South Fork Citico and tributaries, Gee Creek and tributaries in Polk County, Wolf Creek and tributaries in Polk County, Higgins Creek and tributaries, Squibb Creek, Sarvis Cove, Dry Creek and tributaries (Greene County) upstream from U.S. Forest Service boundary, Rough Ridge Creek and tributaries, and Little Jacob Creek.

The following trout streams and their tributaries will have a 5 trout creel limit with a single hook artificial lure restriction: North River and tributaries, Bald River and tributaries, Sycamore Creek and tributaries, Paint Creek and tributaries in Greene County from USFS campground upstream to U.S. Forest Service boundary line south of Highway 70 near Munday Gap, Rocky Fork (Special trout regulations are limited to Rocky Fork and tributaries upstream from the main entrance gate.

Downstream of the gate is managed under the statewide trout regulations), Laurel Fork and tributaries beginning at cable crossing one-half mile upstream from Dennis Cove Recreation Area and extending upstream, Left Prong Hampton Creek, Beaverdam Creek and tributaries from its confluence with Birch Branch downstream to Tank Hollow Road (USFS Road 300). This reflects an increase in creel limit for some streams and the elimination of a 9-inch minimum length limit for rainbow and brown trout on others.

These changes were designed to simplify the trout fishing regulations and modify length and creel limits that were not warranted.

2013 Commercial Fishing Regulation Proposals

Establish new quotas for commercial permits. Roe permits would be limited to 70 resident and 30 non-resident permits. Turtle permits would be limited to 35 resident and 5 non-resident permits.

The new quotas are designed to limit participation.

Allow bow fishing as a legal method for harvesting Asian carp.

This additional gear will give commercial fishers another means to harvest Asian carp.

Turtles may be taken by hand or dipnet.

These additional gears will give commercial turtle license holders more options for harvesting turtles.

Nets must be properly buoyed. All nets shall be marked using a buoy that floats on top of the water. The buoy shall be 4 inches by 6 inches or larger. The name and current license number of the commercial fisher using the gear must be on or attached to the buoy.

This regulation was mandated by state law and specifics for the proclamation were provided by the Commercial Fishing Advisory Committee.

Identify refuges/WMAs that are open to commercial and sport fishing. The following language will be added to the commercial fishing proclamation to clarify areas open to commercial fishing.


Pursuant to T.C.A. 70-1-101, State Wildlife Management Areas and State Refuges have been defined as a specific land, water area or both that have been established for specific purposes relating to management and protection of wildlife and habitat. Waters bordering a State WMA or State Refuge at high river stage, such as oxbows, sloughs, and backwaters accessible by boat from the river or reservoir are open to commercial fishing unless otherwise specified.

No water can be accessed by dragging, pulling or running a boat over a land barrier to another waterbody. All impoundments and sub-impoundments are closed to commercial fishing.

WMA and Refuges

Group A: The following is open, both land and water areas, year-round to trotlines, hoop nets, fyke nets, pound nets, trap nets, gill nets, trammel nets, slat baskets, cast nets, turtle traps, dip net and hand caught, unless otherwise specified.

1. Reelfoot WMA – except that portion within the boundaries of the Reelfoot State Resort Park and the Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge.

Group B: Listed State WMA and State Refuge water areas accessible by boat from the main river channel are open with the following restrictions. State Refuges are closed November 15th – to the last day of February to all forms of use and trespass, except fishing is permitted on the main river channel; State WMA waters accessible by boat from the main river channel are closed November 15th to February 15th.

2. Dyson Ditch Refuge – Commercial fishers must contract with TWRA and abide by the Cheatham reservoir commercial contract provisions as determined by TWRA in order to fish commercially.

3. Hiwassee Refuge

4. Old Hickory Lock 5 Refuge – Commercial fishers must contract with TWRA and abide by the contract provisions as determined by TWRA in order to fish commercially.

a) Trammel nets, gill nets, and fyke nets are prohibited from Highway 231 upstream to Cordell Hull Dam.

5. Pardue Pond Refuge – Commercial fishers must contract with TWRA and abide by the Cheatham reservoir commercial contract provisions as determined by TWRA in order to fish commercially.

6. Barkley WMA (Unit 2)

7. Cheatham Lake WMA – Commercial fishers must contract with TWRA and abide by the Cheatham reservoir commercial contract provisions as determined by TWRA in order to fish commercially.

a) The closed season does not apply to that portion of the Harpeth River downstream from State Highway 49 Bridge.

8. Obion River WMA

9. Old Hickory WMA

(a) Trammel nets, gill nets, and fyke nets are prohibited from Highway 231 upstream to Cordell Hull Dam.

(b) Trammel nets, gill nets, and fyke nets are prohibited from Highway 109 upstream to 231 except fishing of legal entanglement gear by whipset or trammeling method are permitted by contract with TWRA.

10. Tigrett WMA


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