By Marlana Ward
TWRA seeks public input on future fishing regulations.
Fishermen and women all over Johnson County are beginning to get out their gear and preparing for a great year of local fishing. Numerous streams and the beautiful Watauga Lake offer anglers of all ages the opportunity to go out and experience time with family and friends while catching the wide variety of fish available in our area. To keep fishing sustainably and to ensure an enjoyable experience for all who fish the waters statewide, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) sets forth regulations to keep fish populations healthy. Regulations include limiting the number and size of fish held as well as bait types and other limitations.
This year’s TWRA Fishing Guide includes one change which may affect local anglers. Until April 30, anglers are limited to the use of one hook having a single point or one lure having no more than one hook with a single point (artificial or bait) in the Elk River in Carter County from the highway 321 Bridge downstream to Row Branch on the Elk River Arm of Watauga Reservoir.While in the past the TWRA has made changes to fishing regulations annually, beginning in 2019 the agency will post regulation changes every two years. Along with this new schedule, the TWRA is also seeking input from Tennesseans for new regulations or changes to existing rules to improve fishing in the state.
Suggestions may be submitted to the TWRA until April 22, 2018, and the agency lists the following contact methods: “Comments may be submitted by mail to Attn: Fisheries Division-Comments, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, P.O. 40747, Nashville, TN 37204 or emailed to [email protected] Please include “Fish Comments” on the subject line of emailed submissions.”
Once the public suggestions and opinions are received, they will be processed and then discussed at a future meeting of state officials. An official release by the TWRA states: “The proposed fishing regulation changes will be previewed in August at the meeting of the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission. There will be a public comment period on the proposed regulations after the presentation.”
Johnson County anglers keep up to date on the changes made to fishing regulations online and by picking up copies of the TWRA’s Fishing Guide available at licensing stations. Because local fishermen and women keep abreast of changes made to regulations within the state, some have ideas and opinions about the laws and fishing conditions.
Trout is one of the more regulated fish in Tennessee waters, and the creel limits can be frustrating for locals who enjoy catching and eating the prized game fish. Each year the TWRA stocks Johnson County waterways multiple times with small trout from hatcheries. The length of the stocked trout can mean a long wait for those anxious to tread the waters in search of nice sized rainbows and browns. “The size of trout stocked in local streams should be increased,” said Shady Valley fisherman Larry Gentry.
Another opinion shared by many who either fish local waters or would like to fish in the beautiful waterways lining the county is that the prices of licenses should be lowered so more can enjoy fishing in Tennessee. “I’m a weekend fisher and do not have time to fish through the week due to work,” said Nikki Gentry of Shady Valley. “The cost of a license is too high to justify the cost if you cannot go often.” The cost of a license in Tennessee varies depending on where you want to fish, how long you plan to fish, and what type of fish you intend to catch. An Annual Hunting and Fishing Combination license is $34.
A County of Residence Fishing License which allows to only fish waters in Johnson County is $11. To fish for the day, a One Day Fishing License will run you $6.50. If you want to catch trout in Tennessee waters, an additional Trout Stamp is required at the cost of $22. For youth, the Junior Hunt, Fish, and Trap license are $10.
Visiting a local fishing license station to obtain a copy of this year’s guide, going to the TWRA website at www.tn.gov/twra.html, or speaking to agency officials when they visit the county are all great ways to be informed of any changes which may affect your fishing experience. By keeping up to date with regulations and taking care of local waters, all Johnson County anglers can help with ensuring that future generations can enjoy the water and sport of fishing for years to come.