This e-mail from Christie Graham
This morning (November 21st), the AGFC Commissioners voted on the proposed regulations for the Bull Shoals and Norfork Tailwaters trout fisheries (see AGFC press release below). Five of the six regulations were approved and will take effect on January 1st, 2018. The following regulations were passed for trout fishing on the two tailwaters:
1. The daily limit on all trout species combined will stay five fish per day, but only one of those fish may be 14 inches or larger. This means anglers will be able to keep 5 Rainbow Trout less than 14 inches OR 4 Rainbow Trout less than 14 inches and one of the following: 1 rainbow trout (14 inches or longer), 1 brook trout (14 inches or longer), 1 cutthroat trout (24 inches or longer), or 1 brown trout (24 inches or longer);
2. The daily limit on cutthroat trout has been reduced from two to one fish per day, and the minimum length limit for that species has increased from 16 to 24 inches;
3. The daily limit on brook trout has been reduced from two to one fish per day;
4. When using natural (e.g., corn, worms, sculpins) or scented bait (e.g., Powerbait), anglers are now required to only use a single hooking point. This does not include artificial lures (jigs, spoons, etc.) that have multiple hooking points;
5. The Monkey Island Catch-and-Release Area on Bull Shoals Tailwater has been removed.
The sixth proposed regulation, to extend the Rim Shoals Catch-and-Release Area approximately two miles downstream, was removed from the proposals before the vote this morning.
We will be working with our Communications and Education Divisions to provide information and educate anglers about the new regulations that will take effect January 1st. I respectfully request that as stakeholders of these resources, that you will please work with us to advise your families, friends, clients, and guests about the new regulations.
As a reminder, the objective of the proposed regulations and the intent of the public workshops in August was to solicit input that will help us in revising the management plans for the Bull Shoals and Norfork Tailwaters. The management plans are a way to establish goals and objectives that address the full range of angler desires and expectations for the fisheries. We are still working to revise the plans and will hopefully finalize them by the end of the year. Regulations that were approved today will be incorporated into the revised plans. I’ll keep you posted with more information on the development of the management plans as it becomes available.
Thanks to all who participated in the public input process. We believe the regulations that were approved today will go a long ways towards providing more quality trout fishing opportunities on the rivers that will benefit all users. Please let me know if you have any questions.
Trout regulations adopted on Bull Shoals and Norfork tailwaters as part of revised management plans
LITTLE ROCK – The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission accepted five changes to trout fishing regulations proposed for the Bull Shoals and Norfork tailwaters at a special meeting via teleconference today at the AGFC Headquarters in Little Rock.
The proposals are part of ongoing revisions to the formal trout management plans for the two tailwaters. During the last year, biologists have collected creel surveys, biological samples and mail-in surveys as well as held public focus group meetings to determine the best course of action for the trout fishery to meet the desires and expectations of the public. The regulations were presented to the Commission in October, and have been open to public comment for the last 30 days.
The following regulations were passed for trout fishing on the two tailwaters:
1) The daily limit on all trout species combined is five, but only one of those fish may be 14 inches or larger.
2) The daily limit on cutthroat has been reduced to one, and the minimum length for that species is now 24 inches.
3) The daily limit on brook trout has been reduced to one.
4) When using natural (corn, worms, sculpin) or scented bait (PowerBait) on the Bull Shoals and Norfork tailwaters, anglers may only use a single hooking point.
5) The Monkey Island Catch-and-Release Area on Bull Shoals Tailwater has been removed.
An additional regulation to extend the Rim Shoals Catch-and-Release Area approximately 2 miles downstream was removed from the proposals before the vote, essentially declining the proposal.
Commissioner Ken Reeves of Harrison said he received a petition since last Wednesday’s Commission meeting with 133 signatures opposed to the extension of the catch-and-release area. He also felt that the catch-and-release area would be an undue restriction to increase the size of trout in the tailwater, when the proposal to restrict an angler from taking more than one trout over 14 inches was already being passed for that effect.
“I’m very hesitant to restrict the public’s right to enjoy the White River,” Reeves said. “We spend a lot of money to stock trout and it’s for everyone.”
Reeves also had concerns that the restrictions would remove the ability of private property owners to take their children or grandchildren to the banks of the river, catch some trout and eat them, thus possibly damaging the heritage of fishing and the property value of the landowners bordering the proposed catch-and-release expansion.
According to creel surveys conducted on the Bull Shoals and Norfork tailwaters, 71 percent of trout angling taking place is catch-and-release.
“In a sense, the entire tailwater already is 71 percent catch-and-release,” Reeves said.
Reeves also spoke up about the “outstanding job” on the part of the AGFC Trout Program Coordinator Christy Graham and the public in coming together to create the proposals presented to the Commission.
“It really bothered me not to go with her recommendation,” Reeves said of the Rim Shoals Catch-and-Release Area proposal. “But I think she’s done a fantastic job, above and beyond the call of duty.”
The Commission also approved a temporary commercial fishing season on Old River Lake in Pulaski County to run from Dec. 1, 2017, to Feb. 28, 2018. Commercial anglers must receive a permit from the local fisheries biologist to participate. The goal of the season is to reduce the abundant rough fish in the lake, such as buffalo and gar, to reduce competition for space and resources with sport fish populations in the lake.