Well, it took a lot of time and effort by many people, but a limit for bluegills and crappies is now law! After a series of public meetings held across the state of Iowa, the Natural Resource Commissioners examined all of the data collected and at their regular November meeting voted to set a 25-fish daily limit for both bluegills and crappies.
The new regulation now puts all panfish-perch, bluegills and crappies-with the same daily limit on all state waters. The regulation goes into effect as of Jan. 1, 2009.
Private waters, such as farm ponds, are not included in the new regulation.
The proposal originally was for only the Iowa Great Lakes, but DNR officials did not want to confuse anglers with a variety of panfish rules. So, the final proposal was for a statewide daily limit. It also simplifies enforcement for DNR enforcement officials.
Greg Drees, who is in the second year of a six-year term as one of the seven Natural Resource commissioners appointed by the governor, was elated with the passage. "I have been for setting a limit all along, and I am very glad that it passed."
Drees noted that the new regulation now "takes the greed out of the equation. What it does is put a value on all panfish."
The Iowa Great Lakes Fishing Club (IGLFC) was a major leader in pushing for the panfish limit change. "It was a long process. We began laying the groundwork over two years ago. Club members felt it was needed because we could see what was happening with the huge numbers of fish being taken in the winter and early spring. As the club became involved, many other panfishermen joined in the push to get regulations for crappies and bluegills," said Jim McDonnell, club president.
McDonnell added, "The IGLFC began 42 years ago, and has been the watch dog- so to speak-for our fishery. We've taken the lead in several issues throughout the years, such as the slot limit for walleyes and protecting the bull rushes on Big Spirit."
Mike May, state representative from District 6 was also a strong proponent of the move. "I am glad that I could give my support. It was a really grassroots effort initiated by a group of anglers that felt very strongly about the need for a limit."
May added, "This is the way the system should work. It's a great example of the impact citizens can have if they remain persistent and keep working toward their goal."
The next step now is for the word to get out so that all anglers know about the new regulations. Hopefully, signs will be put up in bait shops and sporting good stores. Signs at access areas would also be a good idea. The last thing we want is a bunch of people getting caught with the "excuse" that they didn't know!