“If not 180, it’s close:” Oklahoma Wildlife Service shifts bass management strategy

Oklahoma hunters and anglers have only a few days to hear about the proposed hunting and fishing regulations in 2022.

The biggest change proposed is to end the 14-inch minimum length limit for Oklahoma’s black bass (with the exception of Lake Texoma).

Largemouth bass anglers are currently not allowed to catch largemouth bass or smallmouth bass smaller than 14 inches.

Under the new proposal, anglers could maintain a daily limit of six largemouth bass or smallmouth basses, including basses below 14 inches, but only one bass above 16 inches. I could not do it.

According to state fishery biologists, a 20-year electric fishing survey has shown that 70% of the bass in Lake Oklahoma is less than 14 inches long.

Josh Johnston, a fishery supervisor in the northeastern region of the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Department, says some lakes are very rich in bass less than 14 inches long.

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Brad Johnston, a fishery biologist in the northeastern region of the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Department, has two largemouth bass caught during an electric fishing survey on Lake Eucha last spring.

Brad Johnston, a fishery biologist in the northeastern region of the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Department, has two largemouth bass caught during an electric fishing survey on Lake Eucha last spring.

“In other states, there aren’t many places to see,” Johnston said.

According to the state’s wildlife authorities, too many people are competing in the lake for a limited amount of food, which is hindering growth due to the large population of small bass.

They hope that the proposed rule changes will encourage more anglers to maintain and eat the small bass they catch. The purpose of removing small bass from the lake is to produce larger bass in the future.

Barry Bolton, Head of Fisheries at the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Department, said: “You eliminate some of those mouths, the ones that remain will grow faster.”

Bolton said the new bass management strategy is a major reversal of the previous strategy of protecting all the little bass and could grow to trophy size.

“If it’s not 180, it’s close,” he said.

Since Oklahoma shares water with Texas, state wildlife authorities have excluded Lake Texoma from the proposed black bass regulations.

Black bass are largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass. There is no longer a minimum length limit for spotted bass to facilitate the harvest of those fish.

The new black-based regulation doesn’t apply to streams, but otherwise “this is a nearly comprehensive regulation and we’ll see if it works,” Bolton said. ..

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Bass tournament exemption

Bass tournaments are exempt from the rule that only one fish of 16 inches or more per day can be kept. Tournament anglers can maintain 5 baths regardless of length and release after weighing.

The Bass Tournament Director is responsible for obtaining tax exemptions shared with tournament anglers on mobile phones.

Bass tournaments must submit a report to the Wildlife Service within 30 days after the event, including information such as the number, weight and size of fish caught.

If the report is not submitted, the tournament director will not be exempt from tax next time, Bolton said. Bass tournaments have shared such information with agencies in the past, but he said it was voluntary and some bass fishing clubs would not submit a report.

Such data, along with the Wildlife Department’s Spring Electric Fishing Survey, will help fishery biologists make future management decisions, he said.

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Trying to save the quail

Record warm and dry conditions in December made quail and pheasant hunting in the state difficult, but January will be colder, moist and better for bird dogs. hoping.

“The really harsh scent conditions made it difficult for dogs and hunters to find birds,” said Tel Jadkins, a high-altitude game biologist at the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Department. “If you can get some water, it will help.”

The quail season lasts in Oklahoma until February 15, but can change in some public hunting areas in western Oklahoma. The Wildlife Service wants to shorten the quail hunting season by two weeks in the state’s wildlife management area west of State Highway 81.

By ending the January 31st quail season at these public hunting grounds, more birds are expected to survive until the April breeding season.

The dates for the quail hunting season remain the same on private land and on the properties of the Oklahoma Land Access Program (land leased by the Wildlife Service from private landowners).

Judkins said he would like to see the results of shortening the quail season in public areas before recommending such changes across the state.

“I want to make a decision based on what the data shows me and make sure it’s the right decision,” he said. “I don’t necessarily want to take away hunting opportunities based on what I think will work.”

Another proposed rule for these same wildlife management areas allows captives to use leg hold traps to catch quail predators such as coyotes and raccoons.

“I hope these two things work together to do a pretty good job for quails,” Jadkins said.

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The comment period ends on Friday

A hearing on all hunting and fishing regulations proposed in 2022 is scheduled for Thursday, January 6, at 7:00 pm at the Headquarters of the Wildlife Service in Oklahoma City, 1801N Lincoln.

The online public comment period is until 4:30 pm on Friday, January 7th. All comments must be made through wildlifedepartment.com or mailed to the Wildlife Service (PO Box 53465, OKC, OK 73152) and postmarked and accepted by Friday. ..

Opinions shared on social media will not be forwarded to the State Wildlife Commission. The State Wildlife Commission will make the final decision on the change in rules.

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This article was originally published in Oklahoman: ODWC wants the proposed changes to produce greater bass and more quail