SMALLMOUTH SIZE LIMIT - East Tennessee Fishing

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Old 09-05-2009, 09:18 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Richard McMaster, Tournament Director of the TOM'S TOURNAMENT TRAIL is circulating a petition to lower the current lake size limits from 18" to 16" and make it a state wde size limit. He is going to present the petition at next months TWRA meeting in Knoxville, TN. I do not know if there are any other efforts by anyone else relating to his effort.



Personally, I like the 18" size limit on SMB. It is not necessarily about catching the fish, but managing a very valuable resource. This will definately favor tournament anglers. I have had several days fishing tournaments catching 15" to 17 1/2" SMB that didn't do me any good at all. Lowering the size limit to me would simply pull more SMB out of the lake; but the good SMB anglers are still going to catch the 18" plus fish. I really don't see a benefit to this overall for the average angler.



Our solution, especially in Norris is pressuring TWRA to better manage LMB populations. LMB is the resource that has waivered over the past few years. It appears to me that most of the state agencies are trying to re-introduce "exotic" species like Alligator Gar, Grass Carp, and Sturgeon. And I don't even have to discuss the Rockfish efforts by our TWRA. I feel personally more should be done to increase the LMB populations. I also believe that if TWRA put in half the effort to manage and increase LMB populations as they have others, this wouldn't be an issue.



Getting back to SMB...after thinking about it, I probably would not support this effort. Since I am a tournament fisherman, I want to catch and wiegh fish. I would be in a lot better shape on TOM's Trail if I could have weighed in a limit of SMB back in March on Cherokee; since I caught 11 shorts that day. However, I am not sure that this would be a good long term solution.



I would also like to add that slot limits like the one on Dale Hollow are to me the best solution. However, tournament weights would plummet. Unless you could figure out how to get your kicker fish and it be a SMB. A 22" SMB on Dale is going to weigh close to five pounds. By imposing the slot limit, SMB fishing on Dale Hollow is the best I know of, year round.



I am looking forward to your comments. Have a Blessed Day FNR ><>
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Old 09-05-2009, 09:37 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I would not be for the petition either. The reason you catch so many 17 3/4 inch SMB is because many who practice catch and keep take these fish out of the lake as soon as they touch 18. When the limit was 14 we caught a ton of 13 3/4. I am a tournament angler. I have cashed checkes in 2 tournamnets this year with SMB. The thing that frustrated tournamemt anglers forget is that the rules and the water are the same for every one. We tend to think that by lowering the size limit we will place better. Well so will everyone else. In tournamnets you are in competition against 3. The fish,the fellow competitors and yourself. If we as tournament fisherman want to make a more level playing field and help the conservation side of fishing get a petition up to limit tournaments to 3 fish instead of five.

The reason you are cathing so many 16 and 17 inch fish is because of the 18 inch size limit. This big limit that many tournamnet guys protested whan it was first passed at Norris is the best thing that every happened to Norris in the last 20 years. The next best thing was the striper die off which has really helped the bait fish population in the lake.

Be honest with yourself. How many 19 to 21 inch SMB did you catch this year and how many did you catch per year 10 years ago? The slot is an improvemenet but a few years of 22 min would be good. Let them swim and breed. Dont kill your catch and see what you get in a few short years.

If we want to really boost the LMB at Norris we need to get serious about the habitat restoration.

Fish2win
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Old 09-05-2009, 10:57 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I would be against lowering the limit for smallmouth. Delayed mortality from Tournaments is almost twice as high with smallmouths as compared to spots and largies. If you want better largie fishing, you need to start thinking of improving the habitat, as reservoir's age they become less and less productive.
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Old 09-05-2009, 11:03 AM   #4 (permalink)
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i like to fish rodeo's and it prolly would hurt me now since most of the ones i catch are barely 15 but i would be all for raising it to 18" it would be a level playing field and in about 5 years there would be some nice hawgs . but of course theres always going to be people who keep fish under the limit to eat
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Old 09-05-2009, 12:09 PM   #5 (permalink)
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i fish mostly douglas and its not even a good smallie lake compared to others around and weve had a 20'' size limit for several years now and keepers are very rare so i would definitely be for lowering the size limit.
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Old 09-05-2009, 12:57 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I agree with you 100% fly-n-rinder. If anything, I would be for increasing the size limit or using a slot on SMB. I think the only thing that would help me in a tourney right now is to allow me to keep bluegill or use dynamite one.

I also would think that spots in Norris hurt our LMB sizes/populations as much as or maybe more than stripers being that they compete for the same resources. I have not looked at all the research and science behind it, but just a humble opinion.
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Old 09-05-2009, 02:18 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Well I know I should leave this alone but will add a book of my own equation. When they decided to raise the size limits to 18 on some lakes and not others, I thought was poor decision to begin with. If your going to pick and choose because someone in a certain district has a little influence that just sucks. Kentucky Lake is loaded up with alot of big smallies well over the 20 inch mark but they didn't put the 18 inch limit on it. Some one knew someone is why. Now if they want to build a quality smallmouth bass fishery out of Tennessee make a slot that falls between 17 to 20 inches. And cut the creel limit to 3 Smallies under the limit across the state on all lakes (Excluding Dale Hollow) regardless of who knows who. That gives you the opportunity to weigh in 3 fish under 17 inches and then either hunt bigger smallies or add a couple green fish to your creel.That makes it fair for everyone across the state. Now to touch on the largemouth issue which the TWRA and I fought over for about 7 years before I realized I was dealing with a paper hanging on a wall in someones office that said I'm smarter than you so I"M RIGHT AND YOUR NOT and just gave up is they have this myth in their heads that regardless of what the Corps or TVA does to a lake the Largemouth bass will survive it and continue to thrive. WRONG WRONG WRONG. Back 15 years ago Old Hickory would give Guntersville a run for it's money in the weed population any day of the week. It was nothing 15 years ago to go out on Old Hickory and weigh in a 30 + pound sack at every tournament and if you didn't have 25 lbs you didn't come to the scales. In 1993 Some big money developers began buying up lake front property meaningly huge farms that were going to be sold off as the older heads of familes died off and the children were going after the buck before the parents and or grandparents were cold in their graves. Developers were buying up these farms and waiting for the old heads of the families past away because they had endowments of being able to remain until their deaths. Well the developers got to a few higher ups at the corps and lined their pockets with some big bucks to get the weeds gone. These weeds had been here 30 + years and all of a sudden these same weeds were damaging the turbines at the dam. Weeds that grow in 5 foot of water a 100 miles above this dam was damaging turbines that are in 140 feet of water?????????? They began spraying the weeds in 1995 and by 98 about 90% of the Milfoil was gone and now there is ZERO and it has been about 8 years since a 30 lb bag of fish has seen any tournament scales on the lake. Since then is has declined to now 12 pounds is a big sack and it will win a tournament. I fought with the TWRA till I suffered a heart attack and then I quit. I realized I was dealing with people that didn't have a clue. They told me on several different occassions that one good spawn would put more fish in the lake than if they stocked it 50 times. I can believe that part. Problem is since the grass has gone and the bass that spawn hatch 10,000 fry per 6 pound fish and there is no place for the bass fry to hide with no weeds. that bass fry become just another part of the food chain for anything from Blue gills up. That is where the problem lies. WE WILL NEVER GET A GOOD HATCH because the bass habitat has been destroyed. But to try and get THAT point across to them will never be absorbed into a bunch of Tunnel Visioned know it alls because they have a piece of paper on the wall telling them they are smarter then me. If your lake is suffering from quality fish populations it is most likely habitat but believe me they will never spend the money to repair what Corps or TVA has destroyed. They live under the impression that bass will stock themselves back regardless of the situation. I was so mad one day I told one of the fish biologists up there that I was sorry that Mother Nature didn't know what Ray Scott had in store for the Bass fishing world or I would have bought her a subscription to Bass Master Magazine and that way she could have put the bass reproduction rates in high gear back in 1968 and been ready for the turn of the century and had plenty of bass for everyone. With that I walked out of his office and never went back. Some one mentioned that when your fishing tournaments your fishing against 3 competitors. When you compete in a tournament your only competing against one competitor and it lives in the water because all of the anglers in the tournament are fishing against the fish also. I have not been beat by anglers half and often as I have the Bass. Off my soap box now. Sorry for the long read.
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Old 09-05-2009, 09:49 PM   #8 (permalink)
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A lot can be said for your points joey and softy has some good points also. The two biggest LMB factories in the Knoxville area are Douglas and Loudon. I base this on the amount of fish they give up versus the amount of pressure they recieve. Both have a huge population of shad.

The TWRA felt stripers were necessary to control the shad populations. There belief was that without a bigger predator that the shad would get so big that they would eat everything out of the lake. The fact that Norris and Cherokee were at there best in the the 1970 when the rockfish were introduced didnt mean anything. Those lakes had been around for 30 + years and the shad had not taken them over. The black basses,crappie,white bass and others were able to keep a balance between the shad size and population and the number of game fish.

Tellico ,Watts Bar and Melton Hill were all full of Mill Foil. In the early to mid 1980 I would have bet money that Tellico would be producing numbers of 10+LMB by the late 80's or early 90's. There were great genetics, lots of shad,trout and sunfish for a forage base, plenty of craws to add calcium and lots of habatat with the mill foil. The TVA killed the grass and these lakes have suffered a lesser fate ever since.

Since the striper die off at Norris I have started to see schools of shad again. Not just alewfes. The TWRA is stocking again but the stripers are not getting as big so far.I think the days of the 30 to 40 lbders is gone. If they needed the stripers to control the shad why did they stock alewfes which is a problem in itself ?

The upper lakes above Knoxville all have big drawdowns. This means that habatat cannot survive naturally and habatat placed by us will go away after a few years. I have built brush piles at Norris every winter for the last 20 + years. The absence of wood or grass cover makes these lakes Ideal for SMB and there depth makes them ideal for smb and spotted bass. We now have a good poopulations of breeding size smb in Norris, SoHO, Cherokee etc. Lets support one of the few Ideas that the TWRA has come up with that will work . Lets all support the slot for the SMB.

I agree that it should be state wide like Softy. I agree that things need to be done to improve the forage for better growth rate like Joey. But this is a good start that we already have so lets not slow the momentum. Fish2win
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Old 09-05-2009, 09:53 PM   #9 (permalink)
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THIS IS GREAT...it is good to read these opinions and fact. I am very impressed with our group of men and women who are so well educated on this issue. It should let someone know at our wildlife and fisheries resource managements that we know what we are talking about; we understand the issues and are willing to make the sacrifices to ensure our fisheries survive for years to come. With increased fishing pressure, tournament pressure and available species, we have to start making decisions now on how we want to preserve our sport. Great job folks...keep them coming. I am really enjoying this. Take care and GOD BLESS. FNR ><>
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Old 09-05-2009, 10:11 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I probably could have been a little nicer in my post but everytime I think about the TWRA/C I get mad and let my fingers go crazy. I do realize that the TWRA/C does not really have control over what the Corps or TVA does. All of that game with those two is played with POLITICS. He who pays the most under the table money comes out the winner. Bass anglers are never the winners. Someone mentioned putting alewif's in a lake. That was done becuse some farm that raises them greased someones pocket in the TWRA/C and got them to begin buying forage fish from them. Again money becomes the winner. Not the lake, not the anglers. Now I am going to ask a question and I hope to get some replies to it. Then after I get some replies I will explain why I asked the question.



What would anyone here considered a foreign fish that might be introduced into Tennessee Water sheds??? Now take into consideration I did not say exotic fish. I said Foreign fish?
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