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Tuesday, January 29 • 11:00am - 11:20am
(FISHERIES: LAKES & RESERVOIRS) Active Bluegill Management for Improved Angling Quality: Walnut Point Lake a Case Study in Central Illinois

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AUTHORS: Michael Mounce, Division of Fisheries, Illinois Department of Natural Resources

ABSTRACT: Anglers want quality fishing opportunities and a growing body of literature indicates that active bluegill management can maintain or increase angling quality in bluegill fisheries. Panfish anglers are a very important part of the angling community, but often ignored in developing quality fisheries due to stereotyped as being primarily harvest-oriented. In 1999, as part of a state-wide bluegill management study, a 203 mm minimum length limit and 10 bluegill/day harvest limit were applied to Walnut Point Lake (21 ha). Initial results looked promising, but bluegill soon stockpiled below the minimum length limit, which is typical in fish populations with good recruitment and average growth. In 2007, a maximum length limit was applied allowing the harvest of 15 bluegill/day, of which, only 5 could be > 203 mm. Age structure and the number of large bluegill collected improved. In 2013, concerns regarding body condition and potentially growth prompted liberalization of the limit to 20 bluegill/day (still allowing 5 fish > 203 mm). Body condition and the number of large bluegill collected improved. Under the maximum length limit the average proportion of large bluegill (> 203 mm) collected in surveys is significantly higher (P< 0.02) than in pre-regulation years (< 1999). The application and tailoring of this regulation, coupled with angler education, has demonstrated biological and sociological benefits in this bluegill fishery for eleven consecutive years. Resource-appropriate regulations, similarly tailored, could provide long-term angling quality benefits in other bluegill and panfish fisheries while maintaining harvest opportunities.

Tuesday January 29, 2019 11:00am - 11:20am

Attendees (15)