SPENCER, Tenn. — The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency previewed sportfishing and commercial fishing changes, heard updates on the Bill Dance Signature Lakes Program, reported on the August deer hunt, and recognized outstanding staff at the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission’s September meeting which concluded Friday at Fall Creek Falls State Park.
During the meeting, Bill Smith, who recently retired after a long career as the wildlife manager at Kyker Bottoms Wildlife Management Area near Knoxville, was named the Wildlife Biologist of the Year. Steve Massengill who works at Tellico Lake/South Cherokee WMA was honored as the Wildlife Technician of the Year. David Holt who serves in the TWRA’s District III is the Boating and Law Enforcement Boating Officer of the Year.
The Commission also held a rule hearing to redefine the Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Management Zone 1 to include all counties west of the Tennessee River and the adjacent Wayne County. To simplify transport regulations, only approved parts may be exported from the CWD Management Zone, but there are no restrictions to carcass transport within the CWD Management Zone. Feeding wildlife is also restricted within the CWD Management Zone. This rule will be sent to the Attorney General for approval then filed with the Secretary of State. The current CWD management zone is still in place for this hunting season, with the new rule set to take place next season.
The Wildlife Division also announced plans to move the elk quota permit application period earlier in the year to give hunters more time to make travel and lodging plans before elk season. The quota will now be held in February with winners announced in March.
Staff also presented a summary of the August antlered deer hunt on private land which was held Aug. 26-28. This hunt is archery only across the state, except for Unit CWD where guns and muzzleloaders are allowed. In the archery hunt, the harvest stands at 880, an increase from 503 in 2021. In Unit CWD, the harvest was 161 compared to 113 last year over the period.
The Fisheries Division presented proposals including creel and size limit regulation changes to the Bill Dance Signature Lakes, changes to the use of sportfishing trotlines to align with commercial fishing trotline regulations, and clarification of reservoir boundary definitions for the Tennessee and Cumberland River reservoirs.
Proposals in the commercial fishing proclamation would allow commercial anglers use of boat ramps and navigable waters on the Mississippi River from river mile 735 to 745 (Shelby County). Another proposal was to restrict harvest of paddlefish to only gravid females (with eggs) statewide in waters open to roe harvest.
A preview was given on the required rule changes for the newly-added Lake Halford in Carroll County to be included into TWRA lakes rules and regulations. In addition, there is a proposal for the creation of a regional commercial roe fish permit system for improved management of paddlefish.
A complete listing of proposed changes to sportfishing and commercial fishing rules and regulations will be made available on the TWRA website, www.tnwildlife.org. A comment period on the proposed changes will begin soon and will run through Oct. 31. The TFWC will vote on the proposals at its December meeting.
Dennis Tumlin, from the Tennessee Department of Tourism, reported on the work underway and the feature plans for the Bill Dance Signature Lakes Program. Both above and below the water improvements will be made at 18 lakes which bear fishing legend Dance’s stamp of approval. Tennesseans will benefit from increased stocking, habitat, and fisheries management, as well as improved access for fishing and boating.