New fishing regulations for 2018

Published 6:34 am Friday, February 23, 2018

FRANKFORT — A reduction in the statewide daily creel limit from 30 fish to 20 fish for crappie highlights the new fishing regulations for 2018. The regulations go into effect March 1.

“Anglers requested this regulation,” said Ron Brooks, director of Fisheries for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “The amount of hours spent crappie fishing and the fishing pressure on crappie are increasing across the state. Crappie are popular to eat. Crappie anglers recognized the increase in fishing pressure and requested this regulation to protect the resource.”

Concerns about fishing pressure on brown trout also prompted a reduction in the statewide daily creel limit and an increase in the minimum size limit for the coming fishing license year. Previously, the statewide daily creel limit on brown trout was three fish with a 12-inch minimum size limit. Beginning March 1, the statewide daily creel limit on brown trout will be one fish with a 16-inch minimum size limit.

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“When we stock brown trout, we hope they hold over to the next year at least,” Brooks said. “We only put them in streams where they have a chance to hold over and grow bigger. They are not a put-and-take opportunity. This regulation should help the size structure improve on brown trout.”

Brooks notes the daily creel limit on rainbow trout remains eight fish. “We didn’t want to take the opportunity to harvest eight rainbow trout away from anglers,” he said. “They will be able to harvest one brown trout at least 16 inches long in addition to the eight rainbow trout.”

There is no minimum size limit on the statewide regulations for rainbow trout.

Anglers using jugs, trot lines or limb lines must now use the Customer Identification Number provided on their fishing license to tag their jugs, trot lines or limb lines beginning March 1. Anglers employing these devices previously used their name and address, but this new requirement will protect the identity of those anglers.

New special regulations for blue and channel catfish on Barren River Lake mirror similar regulations on Taylorsville Lake in Anderson, Spencer and Nelson counties, Fishtrap Lake in Pike County and Dewey Lake in Floyd County.

For blue and channel catfish on Barren River Lake, there will be a 15-fish daily creel limit with only one of those fish may be longer than 25 inches. “We are trying to establish a trophy fishery for these lakes,” Brooks said. “That is why we are stocking blue catfish. We hope to establish a self-sustaining population.”

Taylorsville Lake is an up-and-comer for crappie. The minimum size limit for crappie on the 3,050-acre lake increases to 10 inches for 2018. “For the last several years, the crappie fishing on Taylorsville Lake has been fantastic,” Brooks said. “A 9-inch crappie in Taylorsville often hasn’t had a chance to spawn. Increasing the minimum size limit to 10 inches will allow more crappie to spawn at least once before harvest.”

Other new regulations deal with the Fishing in Neighborhoods (FINs) program. Possession or use of live shad will be prohibited on all FINs lakes. In addition, Southland Christian Church Lake, a 2.6-acre lake in Jessamine County, is now enrolled in the FINs program.

A new regulation for 2018 removes the 15-inch minimum size limit for largemouth bass on 158-acre Beaver Lake in Anderson County. The lake reverts to statewide regulations for this species. Crappie, bluegill and other sunfish also go under statewide regulations on 88-acre Benjy Kinman Lake in Henry County. The lake previously had a 15-fish daily creel lake on bluegill and sunfish.

Other special regulations for 2018 affect Beech Fork Reservoir, also known as Staunton Reservoir, in Powell County and Willisburg Park Pond in Washington County. Beginning March 1, there will be a 15-inch minimum size limit for largemouth bass and a 15-fish daily creel limit on bluegill on Beech Fork Reservoir.

Also beginning March 1, there will be a 15-inch minimum size limit and a one-fish daily creel limit on largemouth bass on Willisburg Park Pond. Anglers on this lake may keep 15 sunfish daily with no minimum size limit and four channel catfish daily with no minimum size limit.

Also on March 1, anglers may use dip nets to collect baitfish statewide.

Anglers should remember the current license year expires Feb. 28. Anglers fishing after this date must purchase their 2018-2019 fishing license.

Warm winds will soon blow across Kentucky, driving anglers to the water. Keep these new regulations in mind when fishing this spring.

Author Lee McClellan is a nationally award-winning associate editor for Kentucky Afield magazine, the official publication of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. He is a life-long hunter and angler, with a passion for smallmouth bass fishing.