MOUNTAIN HOME — The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is asking anglers for their input into a possible change to the minimum length limits for all black bass species on Norfork Lake in north Arkansas.
According to current regulations, largemouth and smallmouth bass must be at least 15 inches from the tip of the tail to the front of the lower jaw with the mouth closed to be legal to harvest. Spotted bass must be at least 12 inches long by the same standard. The total number of legal bass that may be kept per day by each angler is six fish, with smallmouth, largemouth and spotted bass all counting toward that limit.
Jeremy Risley, the fisheries supervisor for the AGFC’s north-central fisheries district, said the current minimum length limits were placed on the lake nearly 30 years ago.
“The bass population and lake itself have seen substantial changes since the AGFC implemented these regulations,” Risley said. “In the last five years, our electrofishing sample efforts show more than four times higher catch rates than those conducted during the five years before the regulations were enacted. With that said, the current largemouth bass abundance cannot be maintained at this high level without a detrimental impact on average size and growth rates, especially with Norfork Lake’s relatively low productivity level. Our research also has shown the increased recruitment correlates more closely with frequent high water years that offered good reproduction than it does the implementation of the minimum length limits.”
An educational video presentation detailing possible changes is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOZ3KprS68Q. Anglers are encouraged to watch the presentation, then submit their feedback through the following electronic form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdPSucBBNSwi0Ge89V3kFlT8cIJmqCDjDQZqdboSqp8vJ1qvg/viewform.
Results of this comment period will be used to guide fisheries decisions leading into the 2022 regulations-setting cycle. Any changes would not go into effect until 2023.
Contact Jeremy Risley at 877-425-7577 or email [email protected] for more information.