I hope you have gotten a copy of the 2012 Georgia Sport Fishing Regulations and have read it thoroughly. Many anglers pass up the opportunity to read this pamphlet, and by doing so, they put themselves at risk of breaking the law.
I read recently where an angler in Arkansas caught the largest largemouth bass ever caught in that state but his entry for recognition as a record was not recognized because he had failed to renew his fishing license. On top of that, he was fined for fishing without a license. Don’t let something like that happen to you.
As I was reading this year’s edition of the Sport Fishing Regulations a few things caught my eye and I thought I would discuss those things with a Georgia Wildlife Resources Division (GWRD) Conservation Ranger and then with readers of this column.
The first item of discussion is trotline and jug fishing for catfish. The regulations are quite clear that anyone using a trotline must have a Georgia fishing license and that the trotline must be marked with the owner’s name and address and have visible buoys attached. The trotline must be at least three feet below the surface and must be regularly attended.
I have occasionally received e-mails with complaints about trotlines and just the other day I got my trolling motor tangled up in a trotline that was not marked in any way and had been just tied to a dock post. I must have taken me 15 minutes to remove the trotline from my trolling motor. That trotline violated the law.
The greatest number of complaints I get concern jugs used for catching catfish. Jug fishing goes back many years, and I remember setting out jugs as a young boy. The state regulations are few concerning jug fishing.
“We are seeing more and more anglers using jugs to catch catfish and it could become a problem as the sport grows and it may have to be addressed,” said Corporal Lynn Stanford, GWRD Conservation Ranger.
Anglers are allowed to use jugs for catching catfish and the jugs do not have to be identified with the owner’s name. However the angler is expected to control or attend the jugs and when finished fishing the jugs should be removed from the lake. The jugs should not be used in such large numbers to cause problems with boat traffic.
Trotlines are restricted to 51 hooks so I assume the same can be said for the number of jugs even though the regulations do not specifically restrict the number of jugs that can be used. I am not sure that anyone can control or monitor 51 jugs. Most of the complaints I get are about unattended jugs floating around the lake.
Recently while fishing, a jug with a large channel catfish kept coming by me and I could tell the large catfish was tired from swimming around for some time while attached to the hook on the jug. I looked all around for someone who might be attending to the jug but could see no one.
I finally retrieved the jug with the catfish attached and it was obvious that the catfish was in bad shape and had been attached to the jug for likely several days. I released the catfish hoping it would survive. I am in no way suggesting that you do what I did because just because you spot a jug with a fish on it does not mean it is unattended.
Also the regulations say that you can only catch channel and flathead catfish on jugs. After talking to a Georgia Conservation Ranger, it is clear that the regulation should have included blue catfish and basically any species of catfish. If you enjoy jug fishing and I can certainly see where that is an enjoyable way to catch some catfish filets, make sure you attend the jugs, do not create problems with boat traffic and only catch and keep what you intend to eat.
On the subject of boating, I receive a lot of complaints concerning the 100 foot rule. Law enforcement also receives many complaints.
“The greatest number of complaints we receive concern the disregard for the 100 foot rule, and most of the complaints concern personal watercraft,” said Corporal Stanford. “We intend to enforce the law and will respond to any complaints that we receive.
The 100 foot rule simply says that no vessel may be operated over idle speed within 100 feet of any moored or anchored vessel, vessel adrift, or ay wharf, pier, piling or persons in the water, or shoreline next to a full-time residence, public park, public beach, public swimming area, marina, restaurant, or other public use area.
From my own personal observation, the 100 foot rule is the most violated law on our area lakes. I live in a cove that requires any boat or PWC that enters the cove to be at idle speed for almost the entire length of the cove. However the law is continually violated by PWCs, pleasure boats and angler’s boats.
Do your part by knowing and obeying all Georgia’s laws relating to angling and boating. Good fishing and see you next week.
Outdoor columnist Bobby Peoples can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.