Slot limits should be dropped on six lakes because the regulations aren’t producing larger bass — largely because of anglers’ refusal to harvest enough fish, a Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries biologist told Louisiana Sportsman.
Yesterday, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission approved a notice of intent to remove all length regulations on Black Bayou in Bossier Parish, Chicot Lake in Evangeline Parish, Cross Lake in Caddo Parish, Lake Rodemacher in Rapides Parish, Vernon Lake in Vernon Parish and Spanish Lake in New Iberia and St. Martin parishes.
If final approval is given to the proposal, the lakes’ bass fisheries would be managed solely with a 10-fish-per-day creel limit, the LDWF said.
LDWF’s Mike Wood said the recommendation is the result of recently developed tools allowing his staff to evaluate the effectiveness of regulations by using an exhaustive mortality study.
And while some of the blame for the failure of slots to produce larger bass results from habitat problems, Wood said slot limits are designed to encourage harvest of fish below the minimum size length of the slot to allow other fish to grow faster and come out the top end of the protective slot as quality bass.
That harvest hasn’t been happening, he said.
“Anglers simply weren’t harvesting enough fish to make the regulations function as they should,” Wood said. “Since it’s not going to be effective, then why have it?”
For instance, he said, a year-long creel survey showed that only 8 percent of bass caught were taken out of the lake, Wood said.
“That’s not enough to make a difference,” he explained.
Current regulations on Black Bayou, Chicot Lake, Cross Lake, Lake Rodemacher and Vernon Lake call for all bass between 14 and 17 inches to be immediately returned to the water. Spanish Lake’s slot calls for bass between 16 and 21 inches to be released.
Wood said the decision to recommend dropping these regulations was difficult for him.
“I was one for the biggest supporters of (a system of trophy and quality lakes), but after this evaluation it’s time to make a change,” he said.
Public comment is being accepted through March 10 and should be sent to Mike Wood, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Office of Fisheries, P.O. Box 98000, Baton Rouge, LA 70898-9000 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If final approval is granted, only four Louisiana lakes would be managed under slot limits. Poverty Point and Caney Creek Lake would remain under a 15- to 18-inch slot, while John K. Kelly-Grand Bayou Reservoir would be managed under a 14- to 17-inch slot. Caddo Lake’s 14- to 18-inch slot would remain in effect.