TPWD proposes regulation changes for lakes from time to time based on scientific data and public input. If you fish Lake Jacksonville, please take just a couple minutes to fill out this quick survey. http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/N5LJ3B8
Here is some background information from TPWD.We have been hearing discontent from some of the anglers in the Jacksonville area regarding the 18-inch minimum length, 5-fish/day daily bag limit for largemouth bass in effect since 2000. With changes in habitat following release of grass carp in 2006 and 2007 and the floods of 2007 these anglers are concerned that although 14-16 inch fish are still abundant, fish over 18” are hard to find and this interferes with their ability to conduct several very popular night time tournaments. This was such a concern that at least one of the tournaments has temporarily moved to Lake Palestine. These angers have requested that TPWD consider a modification to the current regulation. Craig Bonds, Dan Bennett, and myself met with the anglers before Christmas to try to understand their concerns. Although they wanted to revert the regulation to the statewide 14-inch minimum length, 5-fish daily bag our concern was that doing so would cause the size distribution of largemouth bass to pre-2000 conditions where the population truncated at 14 inches with few fish over 14. The 18-inch minimum length limit has been successful in restructuring the population and maintaining fish up to 18” in length but has never produced a real surplus of fish over 18” (see attachment). This is understandable and is a function of how a minimum length limit works on relatively infertile systems like Lake Jacksonville. Although the anglers could understand what we were saying about the current regulation they felt that it still interfered with tournament activity. During the meeting we discussed several possibilities including changing tournament format to a “paper” tournament or a format similar to TTBC where fish could be weighed in the boat and immediately released but they did not think these were workable options. They also asked about a tournament exemption to allow them to temporarily retain fish 14-18 for later release but this is just not an option available in our regulation tool box at this time. We did discuss a compromise regulation that would remove the minimum length limit; however, only two largemouth bass less than 18 inches could be retained each day. Combined daily bag limit for all species of black bass would remain 5-fish/day; (this regulation is currently in effect at Lake O. H. Ivie in West Texas). Because the compromise regulation is already in use it is much easier to justify than an entirely new type of regulation. Although they would have preferred the 14”-minimum length they could see the benefit (to them) of the compromise regulation and they are currently preparing a petition to propose it. They understand that there are potential risks associated with revision of the regulation, including the possibility of fewer fish over 18 inches, but they believe the benefits to tournament activity resulting from the ability to retain two fish below 18 inches justify those risks.
We attempted to carry this request through our Senior Administration for the 2012 regulation cycle but the Commission had already been advised of all proposals for this year so the earliest it could be considered is for the 2013 cycle. In the mean time the Senior Administration would also like us to investigate whether the proposed change is agreeable to the majority of Jacksonville anglers or just this sub-group. To do that we are preparing an on-line survey that anglers can access to voice their opinion about this regulation change and to provide some demographic information about themselves that will help us better understand their reasoning for that opinion.
We will keep the survey active until June to allow anglers to cast their votes. The way the survey works is that only one vote can be accepted from each individual IP address so stuffing the ballot box is minimized. If it appears that most anglers are in favor of the change we will propose it at the beginning of the next regulation cycle in July.
This is sort of an experiment in new technology for us and we hope we can better inform anglers of proposed changes before they see them in the Fishing Guide.