14-inch minimum ends in Basin

Creel limit drops to seven fish per person for two-year transition period, LDWF says.

A 14-inch minimum-length regulation that has been in place since Hurricane Andrew blasted the Atchafalaya Basin becomes a thing of the past Thursday (June 20) after the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission approved its removal.

The regulation covered the Atchafalaya River Basin, the Lake Verret/Lake Palourde complex, and the Lake Fausse Point/Lake Dauterive complex.

However, commissioners also approved a transitional regulation recommended by Department of Wildlife and Fisheries biologists that drops the daily creel from the current 10 fish per person to seven fish per person for a two-year period, the LDWF explained.

After the two years, black bass regulations would be consistent with statewide regulations, which call for a 10-fish daily creel with no length limit.

The move came after the LDWF conducted a three-year study examining the effectiveness of the regulation as a management tool.

LDWF’s Brac Salyers has said findings show the Atchafalaya Basin largemouth bass population does not exhibit necessary criteria for which a 14-inch minimum-length limit would produce larger bass.

“What that showed is the 14-inch minimum will not produce a significant number of bigger bass,” Salyers said in February.

Salyers told commissioners that few bass live that long in the Basin, and almost none live longer than five year — not even close to enough time to put on significant weight.

Instead, the study indicates that the basin bass population is more heavily influenced by environmental factors, including water fluctuation and the effects of tropical storms, rather than angler harvest, he said.

“It’s a very predator-heavy environment … and there are very few fish making past that 14-inch limit,” Salyers said when recommending the removal of the regulation.

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