Warm water sportfish creel (harvest) and length limits to improve fisheries
Creel and length limits are management tools to improve angling opportunities by distributing catch and harvest to additional anglers, reducing harvest of selected sizes of fish, or increasing catch rates of quality or trophy-sized fish.
Staff is considering the following to address this issue:
- Tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay - There is a need to change the regulation of American Shad and Hickory Shad to match those of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission. This has been done previously with river herring, two other alosine species, with language as follows "Creel and length limits shall be those set by the Virginia Marine Resources Commission".
- Smith Mountain Lake Striped Bass - Adjust the current 26-36 inch protected slot limit for Striped Bass for November 1 to May 31 to a 30-40 inch protected slot limit to allow for increased harvest of some currently protected striped bass that have recently experienced stagnant growth rates. No change to the size limit June 1 to October 31 or creel limit is proposed.
- Clinch River black bass - Change the current 11 - 14 inch slot limit (5 per day creel limit) for bass to a 20 inch minimum size limit and a creel limit of only one per day longer than 20 inches. This proposed regulation change should help improve the size structure of this slow growing Smallmouth Bass population and provide better recreational fishing in the future.
- Establish a statewide size and creel limit for Saugeye in Virginia. The proposed change would establish a size limit of 18 inches and a creel limit of 5 per day for Saugeye which have been stocked in a few waters across the Commonwealth. Saugeye (a cross between a Walleye and Sauger) are being managed similar to walleye in Virginia and should be protected under the same statewide regulations as walleye. The Saugeye and Walleye regulation would be regulated in "aggregate".
- New River black bass - Adjust the current 14-20 inch slot limit for black bass to a 14-22 inch slot limit to provide enhanced protection for trophy bass. Production of recent year classes of Smallmouth Bass makes this an opportune time for the regulation change. The proposed change will improve angler satisfaction, with associated increases in angler use and increased economic benefit. No change to the creel limit is proposed.
- Northern Snakehead are classified as "nongame fish" and thus currently fall under the "blanket" or default creel limit of 20 per day. Efforts are still underway to limit the spread of this species to other Virginia drainages, and enabling anglers to harvest more than 20 per day may help slow colonization and reduce populations. Northern Snakehead creel limits should be changed to "unlimited numbers from inland waters statewide".
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