By Louie Stout
The Indiana Natural Resources Commission has approved several new fishing regulations to go into effect this year.
In addition, several wildlife-related proposals are heading into the homestretch but are open to public comment one more time.
Details on both the new fish regulations and proposed wildlife regulations that may affect Michiana sportsmen are listed below. All new fish regs, posted in the 2018-19 Fishing Guide, and will be enforced this season.
Approved Fishing Regs
Stream openings: Eliminates closures of two streams for fishing from April 15 through June 15, thereby allowing fishing year-round in these two streams: the confluence of the west branch and east branch of the Little Calumet River where it enters the Portage Burns Waterway in Porter County up to the east branch to US 20, and in Trail Creek in LaPorte County from the Franklin Street Bridge in Michigan City upstream to US 35.
Lake Trout: The daily bag limit for lake trout taken in Lake Michigan and its tributaries was increased to three per day instead of two.
Catfish restrictions: Restricts the number of channel catfish that can be taken from Fidlers Pond (Elkhart County), Failing Lake (Steuben County; also known as Gentian Lake), and Flat Fork Creek Park Ponds A and B (Hamilton County) to five.
Northern Pike: The statewide minimum size limit increased to 24 inches for northern pike and changed the statewide daily bag limit of three to include no more than one per day over 30 inches. Hamilton Lake (Steuben County) is the only exception to the statewide rule, where the daily bag limit is six northern pike per day with no minimum size limit and the daily bag of no more than one per day over 30 inches.
Minnow Traps: Increases the opening of the throat of legal minnow traps to be no more than two inches diameter instead of one inch to allow larger crayfish to be collected.
Live fish baskets: Requires the tagging of all live baskets (live boxes, holding boxes, etc.) used to keep fish alive in public waters with the angler's name and address or customer ID number for both sport anglers and commercial fishers. This does not include baskets/holders that hang over the side of a boat or are located within a boat.
Crappie, redear sunfish, bluegill: The changes in this rule simply insert crappie and redear sunfish into this rule so that all requirements for these species in inland waters are all in one rule. There is no change to the statewide limits for crappie and redear sunfish as the result of these rule changes. The only change limits the taking of bluegill, redear sunfish, and crappie to an aggregate bag limit of fifteen (15) fish from Fidlers Pond (Elkhart County), Failing Lake (Steuben County; also known as Gentian Lake), and Flat Fork Creek Park Ponds A and B (Hamilton County).
Fishing below a dam: This change prohibits the use of a cast net, seine, or any other device used to collect bait extending from a dam downstream 500 yards, including the Ohio River. Asian carp are known to congregate below dams and can be easily confused with other bait fish.
Proposed Wildlife Regulations
You can provide a written comment about any of the following proposals before March 23. Send to Natural Resources Commission, Indiana Government Center North, 100 N. Senate Ave., Room N103, Indianapolis, Ind. 46204.
Turkey hunting: Adds Elkhart, Kosciusko, and Noble counties to the fall wild turkey firearms season. Also, turkeys may be taken on DNR properties between 4:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. during the spring wild turkey season.
Hunting from a boat: Allows the hunting of fox and gray squirrels from a motorized boat as long as the boat is not under power when shooting. Consent of the landowner would still be required to take a wild animal on a person’s property.
Taking animals on state parks/historic sites: Allow the taking of raccoons, skunks, opossums, coyotes, foxes, beavers, muskrats, mink, and squirrels that are causing damage or posing a health or safety threat on state parks and historic sites. Only authorized DNR employees or a person given written permission that has a nuisance wild animal control permit or trapping license (for furbearers taken during the season) could take the animal.
Furbearer hunting and trapping: Removes starting and ending times for the hunting and trapping seasons for furbearers (foxes, coyotes, raccoons, opossums, striped skunks, beavers, mink, muskrats, long-tailed weasel). The seasons still start and end on the same dates.
Possession of furbearer hides and carcasses: Allows the hides and carcasses of legally harvested furbearers taken during the season to be kept year-round by hunters and trappers without a special authorization or permit.
River Otters: Removes the starting and ending time for the otter trapping season; allows the hide to be possessed at any time of year and clarifies requirements for otters taken outside the season or in a county where the season is not open.
Deer control permit: Established a separate rule for deer control permits that would specify the requirements for obtaining a permit, including the time frame in which the deer could be taken, methods that could be used, and disposition of the deer, including the antlers.