Why did Fish and Game increase the length limit on bass in the southeast region from 12" to 14"?
Thanks for asking about the bass rule change. We have been surveying the largemouth bass populations in the region for many years. Most of the largemouth bass fisheries in this region experience overabundance, which leads to stunted, very slow growing populations. Some of the 10-12 inch bass we have collected from the Franklin County reservoirs are 7 and 8 years old. Stunting in the bass population also negatively impacts the bluegill and perch fisheries. Our goal is to improve angler satisfaction by increasing the size of bluegill, perch, and bass they catch. The right bass population is key to managing bluegill and perch populations. In general, we need more, larger bass to thin out overpopulated bass, perch and bluegill. The change to 14 inches does that.
This link provides a report where we completed an experiment on Johnson Reservoir to see how more larger bass would benefit the bluegill fishery.
Smallmouth bass fisheries are very different. For example, a successful management rule for smallmouth bass on the Snake River from American Falls Dam to the Minidoka Refuge has been no size restriction on harvest coupled with a two fish limit. If you would like to discuss bass management in more detail, please call me at 208-232-4703.