|SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. - New fishing regulations will be in place for Stonewall Jackson Lake in 2014, according to Frank Jezioro, Director of the Division of Natural Resources.|
"Anglers will be able to keep a daily creel of six black bass, one of which may be longer than 18 inches. This represents a change from the catch-and-release regulation in place since the lake was created more than 20 years ago," said Jezioro.
The regulation change was proposed by DNR fisheries biologists who began noticing a decline in physical condition of largemouth bass and increased numbers of spotted bass. A minimum size of 52 inches for muskellunge has been established at Stonewall Jackson Lake starting in 2014.
"Harvesting smaller bass while limiting the take of bass over 18 inches will still provide opportunities for trophy bass fishing, something for which Stonewall Jackson Lake has been known for many years," said Bret Preston, Assistant Chief of the DNR Wildlife Resources Section. "In addition, the increased size limit on muskellunge will promote the establishment of a trophy fishery for that popular species," Preston added.
The new bass regulations present an opportunity to hold traditional weigh-in tournaments, according to Preston. The catch-and-release regulation did not afford that in the past. Because of the destination nature of Stonewall Jackson Lake, the DNR has adopted a tournament policy that manages the number of tournaments and dates on which they can be held.
"These guidelines are intended to provide tournament opportunities while minimizing user conflicts on a very busy and popular lake. These guidelines also will aid in managing a potential fish health issue since largemouth bass virus has been documented in Stonewall Jackson Lake," said Preston. Increased stress due to extended holding of bass during warmwater months has been linked to virus- related die-offs.
The DNR will host a drawing for 2014 fishing tournament dates at 6 p.m. on Jan. 9 at the Stonewall Jackson State Park Administration Building. Persons interested in holding tournaments consisting of 10 or more boats must attend to be randomly selected for tournament dates this year. No tournaments will be permitted during June, July and August.