Blueback Herring Now Legal Bait For Lake Allatoona Anglers

The ruling went into effect last month that allows anglers to fish with these non-native baitfish.

Mike Bolton | February 2, 2023

Blueback herring were first “officially” discovered in Lake Allatoona in 2020, but they’ve been in the lake for much longer.

It is now legal to possess and use blueback herring as bait on Lake Allatoona. The new regulation went into effect earlier last month.

DNR approved the change after a public comment period in which some fishermen expressed wishes for the change and others expressed concern, Lake Allatoona WRD Fisheries Biologist Jackson Sibley said.

Blueback herring are not native to Lake Allatoona. They were placed into the lake illegally by an unknown party. Biologists first documented the fish in the lake in 2020.

Fishermen began to express interest in legalizing blueback herring as bait, Sibley said. As a result, DNR initiated surveys in 2021 to determine the invasive fish’s population status. The surveys by WRD found that the fish had been in the lake much longer than thought. The blueback herring population was well-established and expanding and became a primary baitfish for spotted bass, striped bass and hybrid bass.

The presence of blueback herring in Lake Allatoona presented a quandary for both DNR and fishermen.

“It’s true that blueback herring fry will make a run up feeder creeks and predate on plankton and sportfish fry,” Sibley said. “It’s also true that they are established in Lake Allatoona and there’s not anything that can be done about that.

“Essentially, the justification (for changing the regulation) is that since they are here, we shouldn’t be making a law-abiding fisherman who is legally netting baitfish make the determination if that is threadfin shad or blueback herring in their net.”

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