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New crappie rules for Shelbyville

March 01, 2008 at 06:29 AM

Anglers on Lake Shelbyville have been saying for the past few years they can catch plenty of fish under 10 inches. But catching legal 10-inch fish is not so easy.

Starting April 1 they’ll be able to keep some of those short fish as part of a project designed to grow more longer fish. As part of a regulation change for the popular U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reservoir, anglers will be allowed to keep five fish under 10 inches in addition to the previous limit of 10 fish over 10 inches.

The goal of the new regulation is to thin the number of crappie under 10 inches in hopes of boosting more fish above the 10-inch threshold. Research by fisheries biologist Mike Mounce shows that, “Analysis of crappie age and growth in spring 2007 indicates that the growth rates of all ages of black crappie are below state averages. White crappie growth rates are higher than the state average for young fish, but slower than the state average for age 4+ and older crappie.”

To remedy that, Mounce considered several options before deciding on the current regulation. Explains Mounce:

“A wide variety of regulations and combinations of regulations were considered for crappie on Lake Shelbyville, but due to crappie population dynamics and fishing activity the proposed regulation was determined to likely produce the best results for over the longest period of time. Although anglers catch a considerable number of black crappie on the lake, white crappie make up the bulk of anglers catch and harvest. A large majority of the white crappie caught by anglers have been between 9.5 inches and 10 inches. Because of this, the limit below 10 inches was set at only five fish to prevent potential overharvest of smaller white crappie and maintain good potential recruitment of white crappie to sizes 10 inches and larger.”

In an interesting side note, anglers are reminded that culling fish (replacing a kept fish with another caught later) is illegal unless a person is competing in an organized fishing tournament. Only in bonafide tournaments with the fish kept in constantly aerated livewells, is culling legal. This is true because, as Mounce explains:

“Even in the best conditions, fish kept for any length of time and later released will suffer some mortality. The death is usually delayed and often fishermen are unaware of the consequences of holding the fish for even an short period of time. Therefore, any fish kept, even if later released, are required to be counted as part of a fishermen’s harvest. Illegal culling adds to the angling mortality of fish populations and is detrimental to the long term quality of fishing.”


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Congadualtions to biologist Mike M. and IDNR fisheries.  Unusual limits like the one imposed on Rend Lake some years back, can and, in most cases, do improve our fisheries.  I congradulate the IDNR division of fisheries for it’s excellent job of monitoring and managing Illinois public fisheries.
Todd Gessner

Posted by Todd Gessner on 03/11 at 06:23 PM

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