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Lake life

One that got away: Caney slot

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Brett Preuett is a Caney 10 pound+ club member

Like any good fish story, the one that got away often gets the most attention.

Last week, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission considered a Notice of Intent to turn back slot regulations for Louisiana’s most famous trophy lake for black bass, Caney Lake in Jackson Parish. That means unless something drastic happens, changes are on the way.

The proposed change will remove the 15 to 19 inch protected slot limit and 8 fish daily  limit. It will be replaced with statewide black bass regulations of 10 fish daily, with no minimum length limit. In other words, just like any other lake.

The protected slot limit was initially adopted to boost production of trophy bass. What we saw on Caney were regulations and there were big bass. Most folks assumed that was cause and effect. It was not. It was new Caney Lake, Florida strain largemouths, Mother Nature and they grew big. It just was what it was.

Following a 3-year comprehensive assessment, LDWF biologists determined length limit regulations have little impact upon the fishery, primarily due to the high rate of voluntary catch-and-release fishing by Caney bass anglers,” a news release from LDWF said. “The removal of these regulations will enhance recreational opportunities and simplify regulations for area anglers.

Agree or disagree? You do have a chance to make your opinion known. You may comment on the rule to Jeff Sibley, District 1 Biologist Manager, 9961 Hwy. 80, Minden, LA 71055 or via email to jsibley@wlf.la.gov prior to November 20, 2017.

Here’s an interesting thought about this situation.

In 1991, slot limits were introduced as part of a much requested effort to produce big bass for Louisiana anglers. They key word that is “requested”. It was the in thing to do. And, for years, it seemed like the targeted harvest was working. The state record is 15.97 caught by Greg Wiggins on Caney. But that was in 1994, a whopping 23 years ago. Six of the top ten bass in the state were caught in Caney, but again, the latest one was in the  1990’s.  It was a new lake, filled to the brim with pure Florida largemouths and Mother Nature working her magic.

The slot regulations are not effective on Caney and probably never have been. If it was effective, there would be more bass on that top ten list than ones caught 20 years ago. Anglers don’t keep many largemouth bass at all. Recent creel surveys show that less than 15 percent of legal size bass actually caught from Caney are kept. Bass anglers have basically been a non-factor in the management and production of big bass. As a result, the regulation now serves only as a hindrance to those anglers that would like to keep some good bass for the table. It’s not likely that the removal of the Caney slot will bring any change. It probably sounds like a step backwards, but it isn’t.

Here’s what fishermen and fisheries professionals should be most concerned about: growing populations of giant salvinia & hydrilla that will shape the future of Caney Lake.

Some hydrilla is good, mind you. This lake is better today than it has been in recent years because of the return of some of the grass. However, there is nothing good about giant salvinia. Nothing. It’s the only thing on the chain of nature affecting lakes lower than a flock of migrating, fish gorging, nasty devil bird cormorants.

These non-native plants (and resulting control measures) will greatly overshadow any talk of bass regulations… and not in a good way.

 

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