By Louie Stout
Indiana’s Natural Resources Commission granted preliminary adoption to several Division of Fish and Wildlife proposals at its recent meeting.
Those include imposing an 18-inch, 2-fish bass limit on four lakes in Noble County; placing the ruffed grouse, cisco and Western sand darter on Indiana’s endangered species list; and allowing air rifles and bows that meet DNR specifications to be used during the deer firearms season.
One of the regulation changes that went into effect last month under emergency rule was a 14-inch size limit on sauger, saugeye and walleye taken from the Ohio River. The Ohio River bag limit also was limited to six of those fish in aggregate.
Granting preliminary adoption starts a long and deliberate process, including a public comment period that will include two, in-person hearings at two different locations for each rule package.
The lakes being proposed for the 18-inch size limit and 2-fish bag limit are Bixler, Henderson, Little Long and Round lakes in or near Kendallville, Ind.
Those lakes have a history of having a high number of carp and low bass populations. All four are small, connected by small streams or ditches, and only Bixler has a public access.
“Our hope is to increase the number and size of predators that can reduce the carp population, feeding on the young carp before they get too big,” said Tyler Delauder, district fish biologist. “We’ve had good success at other lakes where we’ve instituted similar regulations.”
He cited lakes on the Tri-County Fish and Wildlife Area south of Lake Wawasee, Robinson Lake and J.C. Murphy Fish and Wildlife Area where larger size limits and smaller bag limits have led to improved bass fishing.
Ciscos, also known as a freshwater whitefish, were once prominent throughout the state. Today, they are only found in seven lakes and there’s concern that they face extinction. The Western sand darter also was once found throughout Indiana but now only appear in a few areas.
That same proposal calls for upgrading the Northern Brook Lamprey from the endangered species to the special concern list. Biologists have discovered they are more prominent that previously believed.
The Ohio River sauger proposals were designed because biologists say current regulations are not providing enough protection. Although the Ohio River walleye are under a 14-inch size limit, sauger and the hybrid saugeye have no size limit. The proposal should increase the number and sizes of sauger/saugeye.
Ruffed grouse are native to Indiana but have steadily declined and now are at less than 1% of their 1980s levels.
If the air gun regulation is finalized, the gun would be required “to propel a single projectile by means of non-ignited compressed air or other gas charged by an external high compression power source and have a .40 caliber or larger bullet or ball that generates at least 400 foot pounds of muzzle energy.”
An air bow would need to have “a sharpened metal or metal-edged broadhead with metal points and minimum speed of 300 feet per second at release.”
In addition, the NRC delayed preliminary adoption of citizen petitions regarding existing eco zones at Lake Manitou and Simonton Lake. Those matters will be taken up at the next NRC meeting.
Lake residents seek to reduce the size of the Manitou Eco Zone known as the “the prairie” on the main basin while the Simonton Lake Eco Zone is up for renewal. The Simonton Lake Eco Zone is located in the southwest corner of the east basin.
Eco zones are buoyed off areas to prohibit boats from entering and damaging the shallow habitat located there. You can fish in those zones and run electric motors, but not outboards.
The DNR also set the dates for Free Fishing Days – May 3, June 6-7, and Sept. 26. On those days resident anglers may fish without a fishing license.
For details on all proposals, including those not mentioned here, visit nrc.IN.gov/2354.htm.