New Indiana black bass regs don't impact Ohio River tournaments
New Indiana black bass regulations exempt most streams in counties adjacent to the Ohio River.
New Indiana black bass fishing rules took effect the last week in May, and fortunately reasoned ruled with Department of Natural Resources officials, who heard the voices of Southern Indiana people about the potential negative impact the new regs would have had on the area.
The intent of the rule changes is to provide increased protection for black bass ( which includes numerous bass, including both largemouth and smallmouth) in certain rivers and streams in the state. However, southern Indiana streams, which empty into the Ohio River are exempt, including Perry, Spencer and Posey counties.
If these streams had not been exempted, it would have effectively eliminated bass tournaments at places like Rocky Point and others along the river.
Aside from the southern exceptions, a person catching black bass (smallmouth, largemouth and spotted bass) from a river or stream in Indiana may keep only those fish that are under 12 inches or over 15 inches long. The daily bag limit for black bass is five fish singly or in aggregate, which means the catch limit may include any combination of the three bass species. No more than two can be over 15 inches.
The apparent initial thrust of the regs was developed to protect and enhance the state’s smallmouth fishery.
The exceptions are:
–Rivers and streams in counties bordering the Ohio River still have a 12-inch minimum size limit, with an aggregate bag limit of five black bass. Those counties are Clark, Crawford, Dearborn, Floyd, Harrison, Jefferson, Ohio, Perry, Posey, Spencer, Switzerland, Vanderburgh and Warrick.
–The Blue River in Crawford, Harrison and Washington counties still has a 12- to 15-inch slot limit and an aggregate bag limit of five black bass, with no more than two being more than 15 inches.
–The minimum size limit on the Ohio River main stem (not bays and tributaries) remains at 12 inches for black bass, with a daily bag limit of six.
Indiana DNR officials said the changes are in response to public concerns regarding harvest pressure on smallmouth bass that were expressed during the Indiana Natural Resources Commission’s comprehensive rule enhancement project.
The Natural Resources Council Advisory Council, Indiana Sportsmen’s Roundtable, fishing groups and individual anglers supported a rule change to further restrict the taking of black bass, especially smallmouth, to potentially provide a larger number of bass for anglers in the future. The protection for black bass that are 12- to 15-inches long is intended to limit harvest of these fish when they have the highest reproductive potential.
Numerous individual anglers and groups pointed out the concern of bass tournament anglers who regularly fish tournaments as well as individuals who regularly fish the Ohio River and its embayments. Among other factors, they pointed our the economic impact they bring to to river counties, plus the fact that most of exempt streams contain few smallmouth.
The new rule does not affect existing regulations on lakes or reservoirs (including Lake Michigan), where black bass must be at least 14 inches long to be kept.