Input sought on proposed regulation changes

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The Board of the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) is seeking public comment on proposed regulation changes related to angling, aquatic resources, camping on department facilities, and the access permit for department facilities.

The board will vote on final adoption of these proposals on Oct. 22, and all regulatory changes would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2021.

The board has proposed changes to the following size and bag limits:

  1. Smallmouth bass – Flannagan Reservoir: change to 15-inch minimum size.
  2. Bass – North Fork, South Fork and Main Stem Shenandoah Rivers: standardize to no harvest between 11- and 14-inch.
  3. Alabama and spotted bass – Statewide: change to no size or bag limits.
  4. White bass – Lake Gaston: change to 10/day limit, 14-inch minimum.
  5. Yellow perch – Tributaries of Chesapeake Bay, below fall line: change to 9-inch minimum size.
  6. Walleye – Claytor Lake: change to 2/day limit, no harvest between 19 and 28-inch, year-round.
  7. Walleye – New River upstream of Buck Dam in Carroll County:  change to statewide walleye regulations.
  8. Blue Catfish – Rappahannock River below the fall line: change to allow only 1/day over 32-inches.

Also included within the proposals is one aimed to limit the spread of Alabama bass by imposing restrictions on live possession and transport. These changes also propose to make it illegal to stock spotted bass in Virginia, as they are similar in appearance to Alabama bass.

Because of interest from the kayak fishing community, the board is proposing to allow catch-photo-release contests for prizes on department-owned lakes, provided participants have an appropriate permit. This proposal will also make it lawful to operate a paddleboat on department-owned lakes. Presently, both activities are prohibited.

Several changes to trout regulations are proposed:

  1. Move Green Cove Creek (Washington County), Smith Creek (Alleghany County), Snake Creek (Carroll County), and Whitetop Laurel Creek (Washington County) to catch and release.
  2. Add Hardy Creek (Lee County) and Piney River (Nelson County) to delayed harvest.
  3. Change Peak Creek (Pulaski County) to regular put and take.
  4. Discontinue stocking in Hardware River (Fluvanna County).

Changes in the allowance of American shad in the gill net and seine fisheries of Virginia Beach City are proposed, reducing the allowable limit of American shad to zero.

Several regulatory proposals clarify where the harvest of grass carp is legal. An additional allowance is proposed to allow gigging of nongame fish in Virginia’s tributaries of the Potomac River as well as the Rappahannock River below the fall line.

The board proposed expanding prohibitions on minnow traps to all tributaries of Hungry Mother Lake to conserve the state endangered Tennessee Dace. The board also proposed removing superfluous language on candy darter, which are already protected by the laws of Virginia.

From an access standpoint, the board is proposing regulations governing camping on department-owned and department-controlled lands, aimed at clarifying permissible camping activities and reducing the impacts to wildlife populations and habitats on these areas. Similarly, the board is proposing a requirement to have a fishing license, hunting license, boat registration, or access permit (or Restore the Wild membership) to utilize and department-owned and department-managed boat access sites, complying with a recent law passed by the General Assembly.

Full copies of each proposal are on located at dwr.virginia.gov/regulations. All comments must be submitted by Oct. 11 for consideration. Comments may be submitted online or mailed to Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, Attn: Fisheries, P.O. Box 90778, Henrico VA 23228-0778.