The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department is considering several changes to daily and length limits for the 2016 fishing season. The proposals will be finalized at the Oct. 1-2 meeting in Spearfish. Written comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, so if you’re passionate one way or the other about these proposals, make sure your voice is heard.
Here’s a list of the proposed changes, which have reasoning listed from the GF&P:
1. Change white bass limits on Nebraska border waters to match those of Nebraska (15 daily/30 possession).
2. Remove the restriction allowing only largemouth and smallmouth bass less than 14 inches in length or 18 inches or greater in length to be harvested from Lake Cochrane in Deuel County and Waubay Lake in Day County. The harvest of bass in Lake Cochrane is very low. Additionally, management objectives for bluegill require a high density of smaller bass in the system. This regulation change would better facilitate current management objectives.
Waubay Lake has a history of prey abundance fluctuations. This regulation change would follow suit with the previous removal of the walleye 15 inch minimum length limit from Waubay Lake.
3. Remove the 15 inch minimum length restriction exemption in July and August for walleye from Ft. Randall Dam down to the South Dakota-Nebraska state line on the Missouri River. Current walleye regulations in the area from Ft. Randall Dam down to the SD/NE state line on the Missouri River mirror regulations above the dam on Lake Francis Case with a 15 inch minimum exemption during July and August. This regulation change would align the walleye regulations for the area from Ft. Randall Dam down to the SD/NE state line with the area from the SD/NE state line downstream to Gavins Point Dam. Regulations would be clearer with the same walleye 15 inch minimum length restriction from Ft. Randall Dam down to Gavins Point Dam.
4. Remove the 15 inch minimum length restriction for walleye from the Cattail/Kettle Lake Complex in Marshall County and Bitter Lake in Day County. The Cattail/Kettle Complex walleye population has not shown improvement and actually has declined in quality with the 15 inch minimum length limit in effect. The Bitter Lake walleye population has a large number of fish that were produced in 2011 (4 years old); growing slowly and dying from natural causes before they reach 15 inches in length.
5. Remove the 15 inch minimum length restriction and remove the two fish daily limit restriction for walleye from Opitz Lake in Day and Marshall Counties. The abundance of Opitz Lake walleye in the 13-15 inch range is high; however, abundance of 16-17 inch walleye continues to be low. It is believed that the lake is losing walleye to natural causes prior to attaining 15 inches in length.
6. Add a 15 inch minimum length restriction for largemouth and smallmouth bass in Bismarck Lake, Custer County. Bismarck Lake was renovated and smallmouth bass were recently stocked. In an effort to build the newly created fishery, a minimum length limit will help protect these fish until a fishery develops.
7. Change the name of the “Black Hills Trout Management Area” to the “Black Hills Fish Management Area.” With changes in species present and angler desires, the Black Hills Trout Management Area currently requires management of many different fish species. Recent strategic planning efforts have been based on fish management areas. Changing the name will help standardize language.