WRD is seeking information on proposed changes to bass regulations

Fred Wammock, 77, of Eatonton, regularly participates in the WRD Georgia Angler Award and Georgia Bass Slam programs. He fishes Lake Oconee often, but here he has a 20-inch school bass caught in April on the Flint River. Fred actively encourages his grandchildren to fish and they have also won WRD Angler Awards.

There may be regulatory changes coming soon for several species of black bass in Georgia, but anglers are asked to first review the proposed changes and submit comments by May 27, 2024. Virtual public hearing on WRD’s Facebook page for proposed regulations that focus on shoals bass length limits and creel limits for some of Georgia’s native bass will be held May 21 at 7 p.m.

AND GON a summary of the proposed changes is below, but the official memorandum from WRD Director Ted Will written to the DNR Natural Resources Board can be read at PROPOSED BASS RULES,

Part of that memorandum reads: “Georgia is home to the greatest diversity of black bass species in the world. There are currently 12 recognized species and all are targeted by anglers,” writes Will. “Seven of these species occur only in watersheds of Georgia or neighboring states. Responsible management of these species ensures that Georgian anglers will be able to enjoy them for generations to come.

“The proposed changes to fishing regulations introduce two changes. First, the length limits on shoals have been updated to make them easier to understand and maintain healthy populations. Second, daily gel limits are modified for native black bass species with limited ranges and populations.

GON summary of WRD’s proposed changes to black bass regulations

• Georgia currently has a limit of 10 blackfish per day. The proposed regulations would allow only five of those bass to consist of Altamaha bass, Bartram’s bass, Chattahoochee bass, redeye bass, schooling bass, smallmouth bass, Suwannee bass and Tallapoosa bass. All of these fish have a limited distribution in the state and have limited habitat as they are primarily stream and river fish. WRD said the new limit would help protect against overharvesting.
• Implement a 15-inch sea bass limit on Lake Lanier to align with new proposed state sea bass regulations. Currently, Lake Lanier has a minimum length limit of 14 inches for schooling bass.
• Implement a 15-inch bank length limit statewide (except in the Flint River below Warwick Dam. See below).
• Create a 15- to 20-inch break limit for school bass caught in the Flint River below Warwick Dam (including Lake Seminole). Fish shorter than 15 inches and longer than 20 inches may be taken, given the new proposed statewide regulation of five schools of bass per angler per day.

“This section of the river (below Warwick Dam) has produced great fish for years, and there are already catches of fish in the 12- to 15-inch range,” said Clint Peacock, deputy chief of the WRD Fisheries Section. “Protecting the main spawning adults will result in stable reproduction and many of them growing through the gap to become harvestable as fish over 20 inches in length.”

Earlier this year, WRD conducted a survey on possible changes to bass regulation, and the results are below.

• Statewide 15-inch minimum length limit for schooling bass: 79% favor, 16% oppose and 5% have no preference

• Statewide 5-fish limit for select black bass species: 71% favor, 17% oppose and 12% have no preference

• Lower Flint 15- to 20-inch protected slot and 5-fish-per-day basket: 76% for, 11% against and 13% no preference

The Virtual public meeting will be streamed 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 submit comments by 4:30 p.m. on May 27. You can submit comments using one of the three methods below.

E-mail: Send by email ((email protected)).
Telephone: By phone (706.557.3305).
Post: 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 Natural Resources Board will consider the proposed amendments and any comments received on June 25, 2024 at 9:00 a.m. at 2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, SE, Suite 1252, Atlanta, GA.