TFWC Cracks Down on Live Bait Transport Regulations

Live threadfin shad are a favorite bait for striper fisherman as well as anglers pursuing other species. However, because threadfins closely resemble young Asian carp, TFWC is making it illegal to transport live bait caught from most West Tennessee reservoirs to other bodies of water in fear of spreading Asian carp. (Photo: Richard Simms)

The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission set the 2019-20 fishing regulations during its September meeting last week, including a regulation that will restrict anglers for catching live bait fish from West Tennessee lakes and transporting them other lakes.

Anglers typically use cast nets to capture threadfin shad alive for bait. For now transporting bait fish from one body of water to another in East Tennessee is still allowed. (Photo: Richard Simms)

The regulation is designed to prevent the spread of the invasive Asian carp. Skipjack herring, gizzard shad, and threadfin shad will not be able to be transported alive from the Mississippi River and Barkley, Kentucky, and Pickwick reservoirs and any tributaries or oxbows of these waters. The restrictions do not apply to the Duck River above Normandy Dam.

These bait species are similar in appearance to small Asian carp. This change is aimed to reduce the risk of accidentally introducing Asian carp into new waterways.

TFWC also made it illegal for catfishermen (sport fishermen or commercial fishermen) to transport any catfish greater than 34 inches in length alive.

That regulation is intended to prevent fishermen from carrying trophy-sized catfish and selling them to pay lakes (where anglers pay to fish for trophy sized catfish). That regulation is a follow-up to a law passed in 2002 preventing fishermen from even keeping more than one catfish per person, per day, greater than 34 inches in length.

Changes to other fishing regulations include changes to seasons on the Tellico River, Citico Creek, and Green Cove Pond will allow optimal stocking and fishing conditions during the permit season. Big Lost Creek, Goforth Creek, Spring Creek, and Greasy Creek and their tributaries in Polk County to have been changed to follow statewide regulations. This adds fishing opportunity to these creeks which are currently closed on Friday.

Frank Fiss, Fisheries Division chief, introduced its annual award winners. David Roddy, TWRA Statewide Hatchery Coordinator and Aquatic Nuisance Coordinator, was named the Fisheries Biologist of the Year. Marilyn Davis, who works out of Eagle Bend Hatchery in Anderson County, was named Fisheries Technician of the Year.

Jason Henegar, Fisheries Division assistant chief, gave an update on the current status of brook trout management and distribution. He also highlighted future directions of management and how additional funding from Trout Unlimited will be used to better inform the agency of future restoration projects.

Representatives from the Tennessee Chapter of Trout Unlimited presented the TWRA with a $10,000 donation prior to the Friday meeting to further TWRA’s efforts in brook trout restoration throughout their range in Tennessee.

Jam Ferguson caught the new Tennessee state record black crappie in a Loudon County pond. The catch is also being reviewed by IGFA officials as a potential new world record. (Photo: Contributed)

Lionel Ferguson, who established a new state record for black crappie, was introduced and officially received his certificate for the record. He landed the 5 pounds, 7.68 ounces record fish from a private pond in Loudon County. The fish also qualifies for an IGFA World Record however it has not been officially certified by the IGFA yet.

The TFWC’s next meeting will be Oct. 25-26 in Nashville.

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