Indiana DNR Relaxes Bass Fishing Rule at Two Lakes

Beginning June 3, the Indiana DNR will modify largemouth bass fishing regulations at Big and Crane lakes in Noble County.

To reduce the number of largemouth bass, anglers will be allowed to keep only bass that measure between 10 and 14 inches long. All bass less than 10 inches long and all bass 14 inches and larger must be released immediately. The daily harvest limit will remain at five bass per day.

Based on sampling conducted by DNR biologists, Big and Crane lakes contain three times the typical number of bass found in other northern Indiana natural lakes.

Most of the bass, however, are less than 14 inches long and cannot now be legally taken by anglers. Current rules require all angler-caught bass that are less than 14 inches long to be released at both lakes.

The current limit, however, has been overly protective at Big and Crane lakes. As a result, bass grow slowly in both lakes and few bass ever reach the minimum size limit.

"We've seen a huge increase in the number of bass in Big and Crane lakes over the last 10 years," said Jed Pearson, DNR fisheries biologist. "Both lakes now have more bass than they can support."

During sampling with fish shocking equipment, 303 adult bass were captured per hour at Big Lake and 294 per hour at Crane Lake. At most lakes in the area, the average bass catch rate is 96 per hour. Only 2 percent of the bass at Big Lake and 5 percent of the bass at Crane Lake were 14 inches or larger.

The change in the size limit is needed to encourage anglers to catch and keep small bass, but the new rule is being imposed on a temporary basis. DNR plans to monitor how many bass are taken home by anglers. Once the quota is reached, the 14-inch size limit will go back into effect. If the quota is not reached, the 14-inch size limit will go back in effect by Nov. 1.

"Our initial goal is for anglers to take out more than half of the 10- to 14-inch bass in both lakes," said Pearson. "A specific quota will be set on the number of bass to be removed from each lake after sampling in April and May.

"This should be a great fishing experience for anglers who love to catch and eat fish. It could also be an exciting way to introduce kids to fishing."

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