WRD Seeks Input On Proposed Bass Regulation Changes

Brad Gill | May 10, 2024

Fred Wammock, 77, of Eatonton, is a regular participant in WRD’s Georgia Angler Award and the Georgia Bass Slam programs. He often fishes Lake Oconee, but here he is with a 20-inch shoal bass that was caught in April on the Flint River. Fred actively gets his grandkids out to fish, and they also have earned WRD Angler Awards.

Regulation changes for several species of Georgia’s black bass could be coming, but anglers are first asked to look over those proposed changes and make comment by May 27, 2024. A virtual public hearing through WRD’s Facebook page involving the proposed regs, which focus on shoal bass length limits and creel limits on some of Georgia’s native bass, will be held on May 21 at 7 p.m.

A GON summary of those proposed changes is below, but the official memorandum from WRD’s Director Ted Will written to DNR’s Board of Natural Resources can be reviewed at PROPOSED BASS REGS,

A section of that memorandum states, “Georgia is home to the largest diversity of black bass species found anywhere in the world. There are currently 12 recognized species, all of which are targeted by anglers,” writes Will. “Seven of these species are only found in watersheds in Georgia or bordering states. Responsibly managing these species ensures Georgia’s anglers can continue to enjoy them for generations to come.

“These proposed amendments to the fishing regulations make two changes. First, length limits related to shoal bass are updated to make them easier to understand and maintain healthy populations. Second, daily creel limits are modified for native black bass species with limited range and populations.”

GON’s Summary of WRD’s Proposed Black Bass Regulation Changes

• Georgia currently has a 10-fish black bass limit per day. The proposed regs would allow for only five of those bass to be made up of Altamaha bass, Bartram’s bass, Chattahoochee bass, redeye bass, shoal bass, smallmouth bass, Suwannee bass and Tallapoosa bass. These fish all have limited distribution in the state and have limited habitats, as they are mostly stream and river fish. WRD said the new limit will help protect against overharvest.
• Implement a 15-inch shoal bass length limit on Lake Lanier to line up with the new proposed state shoal bass regulations. Currently, there is a 14-inch minimum length limit for shoal bass on Lake Lanier.
• Implement a statewide 15-inch length limit on shoal bass (with the exception of the Flint River below Warwick Dam. See below).
• Create a protective slot limit of 15 to 20 inches on shoal bass caught in the Flint River below Warwick Dam (to include Lake Seminole). Fish shorter than 15 inches and longer than 20 inches maybe harvested, while keeping in mind the new proposed statewide regulation of five shoal bass per day per angler.

“This stretch of river (below Warwick Dam) has been producing some great fish for years now, and there is already on-going harvest of fish between 12 and 15 inches,” said Clint Peacock, assistant chief of WRD’s Fisheries Section. “Protecting the primary spawning adults will lead to stable reproduction, and that many of them will grow through the slot to be harvestable as 20-plus-inch fish.”

Earlier this year, WRD hosted a survey on possible bass regulation changes, and those results are below.

• Statewide 15-inch minimum length limit on shoal bass:  79% in favor, 16% opposed and 5% no preference
• Statewide 5 fish creel limit on select black bass species: 71% in favor, 17% opposed and 12% no preference
• Lower Flint 15- to 20-inch protected slot and 5 fish daily creel: 76% in favor, 11% opposed and 13% no preference

The Virtual Public Meeting will be live on the Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division Facebook Page on May 21, 2024 at 7 p.m.

Anglers are encouraged to consider their thoughts on the proposed regulations and then make comment prior to 4:30 p.m on May 27. Comments may be made by any one of the three methods below.

Email: Submit by email ([email protected]).
Phone: By phone (706.557.3305).
Mail: Mail comments to: GA DNR Wildlife Resources Division, Fisheries Management Section, 2067 US Hwy. 278, SE, Social Circle, GA 30025.

Following the public comment process, the Board of Natural Resources will consider the proposed amendments and any comments received on June 25, 2024, at 9 a.m. at 2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, SE, Suite 1252, Atlanta, GA.

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