LITTLE ROCK (AGFC) – Among the changes in fishing regulations changes to go into effect on Jan. 1 is one reducing the minimum length limit for largemouth bass on the Arkansas River.
The largemouth bass length rule will be changed from 15 inches to 14 inches. Fish caught that are less than 14 inches long must be returned to the water immediately.
The regulations that go into effect in 2013 were approved at the August meeting of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
The Arkansas River and its connected tributaries are a major bass fishery. The 14-inch minimum length limit has been in place for 14 years, and as happens with these restrictions, fish tend to stack up just short of the allowable limit. Flooding on the river in recent years has been a factor as well, according to AGFC's fisheries biologists.
Fishermen need to check the AGFC's Fishing Guidebook for information on where the affected length limits are on the Arkansas River tributaries.
Another change coming up Jan. 1 is to allow only cast nets and throw nets for the taking of shad below dams. Hand-held dip nets will not be permitted.
The other 2013 changes approved, in capsule form, are:
* Remove Lake Atalanta at Rovers from the Community Fishing Program and make it fishing with rod or pole only with a daily catfish limit of five.
* Add Mom's Lake at Corning to the Community Fishing Program.
* Add Walnut Ridge City Lake to the Community Fishing Program.
* Allow single barbed hooks for fishing with bait outside the special regulations area of the White River tailwaters below Beaver Dam.
* Allow use of artificial lures with multiple barbless hooks in the special regulations area of the White River tailwaters below Beaver Dam.
* Remove the 13-inch minimum length limit on largemouth bass on the lower Ouachita and Saline rivers in south Arkansas, but keep the minimum length limit inside Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge.
* Make Lower White Oak Lake near Camden catch and release fishing only. The lake is being renovated and will be restocked with fish after it begins to fill again.
* Remove the catch and release only regulation for Lake Sylvia south of Perryville and make the daily limit of largemouth bass five.
* Change the minimum length limit of paddlefish (sometimes called spoonbill catfish) taken by commercial fishing on the Mississippi River.
* Allow commercial take of aquatic turtles on private property. In areas closed to turtling on public waters.
* Prohibit commercial fishing on Old River Lake near Scott.
* Require detailed reports from commercial fishermen taking alligator gar.
The commissioners also approved a number of clarifications and wording changes in the agency's code book, its official volume of regulations. Extensive revision of the code book was made recently to reduce its complexity.