Custom-Fit Regulations Work

It’s not at all uncommon for state DNRs to put blanket statewide regulations on all lakes or all streams.

Craig Springer

The motivations vary. It could be a matter of convenience, an attempt to effect a change in some fisheries, or it could be purely sociological — to show the angling public the DNR is doing something.

But never mistake movement for progress. One-size-fits-all may work for a Zebco ball cap, but not fishing regulations. And the reason is pretty simple, each fishery is different, and each deserves as much individual attention as possible.

The proof is in the pudding — the black bass fishery in Cave Run Lake where the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources put different length limits on largemouth bass and spotted bass.

A 15-inch minimum-size limit was placed on largemouth bass while a length limit on spotted bass was removed entirely to encourage harvest of an over-populated, slow-growing population. The custom-fit regulations worked. Four years later, more of the less desirable spotted bass were harvested under the new regulations. While fewer largemouth were being harvested, the total weight of largemouth harvested under the 15-inch limit equaled total weights harvested under the previous 12-inch limit.

Simply put, more, bigger largemouth bass were being caught. Electro-fishing surveys backed it up. The surveys showed an increase in all sizes for largemouth bass and a decline in spotted bass 9 inches and longer.

For a fine assortment of fishing gear, click here.

When not penning stories about the outdoors, Craig works in communications for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He is an outdoors’ columnist for the Albuquerque Journal and ESPN Outdoors, and a frequent contributor to Flyfisher and North American Fisherman magazines. He holds degrees in fisheries and wildlife management from Hocking College and New Mexico State University, and an M.Sc. in fisheries science from the University of New Mexico. He’s a candidate for an M.A. in rhetoric and writing at the University of New Mexico. He writes weekly for

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