LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission unanimously voted this week to approve new changes to Arkansas’s regulations on recreational fishing, commercial fishing and aquaculture.
The recreational sportfishing regulations changes were announced to the Commission during its March meeting and were circulated in a public comment survey on the AGFC’s website beginning in March. The responses from that survey were then presented with official proposals during the Commission’s August Commission meeting.
Ben Batten, chief of the agency’s Fisheries Division, said 80 percent of the 46 regulations changes were clarifications, simplifications or reductions in current regulations. The other 20 percent were changes backed by scientific evidence or public input aimed at improving sportfish populations and angler experience.
A few notable changes include:
Requiring boaters to remove drain plugs from vessels while being trailered to and from water bodies;
Requiring trotlines and limblines to be checked every 48 hours or removed when not in use;
Standardizing the number of free-fishing devices and yo-yos being used to 25 of each per person;
Increasing the possession limit on fish from two daily limits to three daily limits.
Removing rough fish gigging season dates and allow rough fish harvest by gig year-round;
Removing the requirement to possess an alligator gar permit to fish for alligator gar (a Trophy Alligator Gar Tag is still required to keep alligator gar longer than 36 inches);
Adding a 10-inch minimum length limit on crappie for Lake Dardanelle;
Allowing 10 additional spotted bass to the daily limits for Ouachita, DeGray and Greeson lakes;
Allowing twice the statewide limit of channel catfish on the Arkansas River, regardless of size, and
Allowing unlimited recreational harvest of channel catfish on Lake Erling.
Changes to Arkansas’s commercial fishing and aquaculture regulations also were passed. Surveys were sent to licensed commercial anglers for their comments to proposals presented to the Commission at its March meeting as well. While most regulations proposals remained unchanged, a proposal to eliminate commercial fishing on the entirety of the Strawberry River was modified to allow it only on the 13-mile stretch of the river from its mouth to Arkansas Highway 25.
Additionally, the Commission unanimously voted to approve the proposed reworking of Arkansas’s aquaculture codes to benefit the integrity of Arkansas’s aquaculture industry while protecting our natural resources. Staff worked with aquaculture producers in focus groups as well as online surveys before their official proposal to the Commission in August.
A complete list of changes is available at agfc.com/en/education/ calendar/commission-meetings/monthly-commission-meeting -2020-10. All regulations will go into effect beginning Jan. 1, 2021.