Minimum-Size Limit Set For Lake Weiss Crappie
Beginning March 20, any crappie you catch from the Alabama side of Lake Weiss must measure 10 inches long from nose to tail or it has to go back in the lake. Alabama is imposing the new minimum size limit in an effort to increase the size of Weiss crappie.
According to Alabama Fisheries Biologist Dan Catchings, the size limit is the result of a 3-year study of Lake Weiss by Auburn University, as well as increasing complaints about the decline of crappie fishing on Weiss. The Auburn study indicated high crappie mortality in the lake. At the same time, an increasing number of crappie fishermen have been complaining that they are catching fewer and smaller crappie.
Weiss crappie have had their problems.
“For the past three or four years, we have not had a good crappie spawn at Weiss,” said Dan. “Finally in 1989, we had a good spawn and there is a substantial year-class of crappie coming on. We hope the minimum size limit will allow more of these fish to remain in the lake to reach a larger size before they are harvested. Presently, most of the crappie are caught before they reach 10 inches.”
Posters announcing the new regulation will be placed at ramps, bait shops and marinas around the lake. There will also be 5,000 vinyl rulers distributed that will adhere to a boat’s gunnel or to a tackle box top so anglers can measure their catch. Conservation rangers will also be on the lake enforcing the new regulation.
The size limit allows for the possession of three crappie below the 10-inch minimum size to provide for deeply hooked fish that may have been killed. Also, the Alabama daily limit for crappie has been reduced from 50 to 30 fish.
Local fishermen are generally in favor of the restriction even though most fisheries studies suggest that fishing pressure has little impact on crappie populations. Because mortality is so high from natural causes (i.e. most fish die anyway), fishing mortality has no significant impact on the population in a lake.
While the impact of a minimum size limit on crappie is debatable, it has been implemented in other states.
“A minimum size limit on crappie in Lake Fork, Texas has worked well to increase the number of bigger fish,” said Dan. “That’s what we are hoping to accomplish at Weiss. But we will continue to monitor the lake and if we don’t get a sufficient survival rate for fishermen to see positive results, we may reconsider the minimum-size limit.”
In the meantime, if you are going crappie fishing in Lake Weiss, take a ruler!
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