According to Kentucky Fisheries Director, Ron Brooks, the NEW Commercial Fishing Regulations will go into effect in the spring of 2019.
"The commercial fishing regulations have been submitted to the LRC, the ARRS has approved of the proposed amendments, and they will be in effect as soon as the full legislative committee approves the subcommittee’s recommendations. Possibly in March, no later than April."
- Current Ohio River Catfish Regulations will be applied Statewide(1 over 35" per day). (New Angler Reg)
- Noodling will be regulated to 1 over 35", or water body specific regulations. (New Reg)
"In order for angler regulations to become effective in the next calendar year after they are proposed, the amendment proposals must be passed through the Commission in June and submitted to the LRC no later than July. This is because the legislature must pass the regulations before our next year’s fishing and boating guide is sent out to the printer; usually in November or early December. Our anglers rely on the guides for regulation information, and citations issued where the regulations were not available to anglers in the guide will not be prosecuted in the courts. Therefore, any angler regulations that pass through the Commission after July will be submitted the following June or July, depending on the timing of the Commission meetings. We normally, purposely wait to propose angler regulation changes until the May Committee and June Commission meetings understanding that the regulation proposals that are passed will have gone through the entire regulation processes in time for the following fishing year’s guide to be amended and printed."
-Ron Brooks, Kentucky Fisheries Director
Again, remember Mr. Brooks wording here, as delays played a major role in timing.
To see a list of proposals we pushed for that didn't get passed click here.
It should be noted, numerous delays occurred during the process for new regulations. These delays were brought about by opposing sides(paylakes/commercial fisherman), as well as, KDFWR. Exposing Paylakes and company were on time with our responses and requested deadlines. A more detailed rundown of these delays can be found below. These delays not only affected our ability to rally the troops for regulation meetings, but they also negatively affected when these regulations could be made official.
Mr. Aaron Wheatley - tournament director of "Monster on the Ohio" secured an agenda item on the November 6th, 2017 Kentucky Fisheries Committee meeting.
September 18th, 2017
Exposing Paylakes organized a private Facebook group and worked with roughly 80 other concerned anglers to get a general idea of needed regulations.
October 5th, 2017
Chris Debow, Justin Browning and Chris Lee have a 6 hour meeting discussing how to close loopholes and what new regulations are needed/viable. Chris Debow would later use this information to draft a 38 page proposal to submit to KDFWR and the Fisheries Committee on October 26th, 2017.
October 13th/14th 2017
Chris Lee, Justin Browning, Chris Debow and Vic Shepherd work a booth at the 2017 Monsters on the Ohio Captain's Meeting, courtesy of Aaron Wheatley. During the meeting & tournament, we gathered 1000's of signatures on our "Comment Cards" showing support for better regulations. These signatures were later sent to KDFWR commissioners.
October 26th, 2017
Steve Douglas, Chris Debow, Rob Benningfield and Aaron Wheatley attend a meeting with four of the KDFWR commissioners, as well as, members of KDFWR. In this meeting our 38 page proposal is officially submitted to KDFWR.
1ST DELAY - October 27th, 2017
A day after submitting our 38 page proposal - KDFWR has a knee-jerk reaction and moves the Nov 2017 meeting - to February 2018. KDFWR cited additional time needed to consider all viewpoints, including those of commercial fisherman and paylakes.
Nov 6th, 2017 meeting
Catfish were NOT to be on the agenda(since KDFWR & the Wildlife Commission opted to move the item to the Feb, 2018 agenda). This wasn't the case though, as catfish issues were discussed. Thankfully, we had a rep at the meeting anyway.
In the meeting the Kentucky Fisheries Director prepped the commissioners on the paylake issues & proceeded to mention irrelevant out of state catfish issues, regarding Ohio paylakes and Virginia/Maryland waterways. Our representative documented the meeting, and when asked if anyone was there regarding catfish. A well spoken, concerned angler from Ohio(who wasn't aware of the meeting date change) pleaded our case nicely and drove home the paylake issue. Commissioner Carloss moved to table any further discussion and gave KDFWR orders to come back with rock solid data.
Dec 8, 2017 Commission Meeting
Again, catfish are NOT an agenda item for this meeting. And yet again, catfish items were discussed anyway. Thankfully, we had the same rep attending and documenting the meeting again. The KDFWR Fisheries Director had invited the vice president of the commercial fisherman's association to speak. The commercial fishing rep opposed regulations and insisted the commission needed to listen to informed lobbyist and biologists with solid data, instead of "hobbyist" catfisherman.
January 17th, 2018
Jeremy Coe, Chris Debow, Scott Cress and Rob Benningfield meet with several key members of the Kentucky Legislature and Department of Fish and Wildlife. Our side was asked to join a work-group comprised of representatives from:
-Commercial Fishing Industry
-Fish & Wildlife
To appease KDFWR, we agreed to join this work-group.
2ND DELAY - January 23, 2018
KDFWR sends out an email moving the Feb meeting.
"Because of an agreement to form an Ohio River Catfish Workgroup, KDFWR is not putting this issue on our February 2018 agenda. Therefore, Ohio River catfish issues will not be discussed at the Fisheries Committee or Commission in February."
"This Workgroup will ensure that, along with the 3 interest groups, several legislators and KDFWR Commissioners will be present to directly hear each group’s perspective of Ohio River catfish and KDFWR’s assessments of the three catfish populations. Members of the Workgroup will hear and hopefully understand all aspects of this issue, and at the very least, our Commonwealth’s lawmakers will be informed to the extent that any regulations emanating from our meetings will be well vetted by them."
"The compilation of workgroup members has begun, and following a KDFWR meeting with pay lake owners in early February, the list of Workgroup representatives should be complete and scheduling will commence. We intend to complete this Workgroup task of round-table discussions in time to put this issue on the May 2018 Fisheries Committee Agenda as either an update item, or if necessary, as one or more discussion items of which would result in regulation proposals made to the Fisheries Committee."
This meeting was initially supposed to be our first important meeting, but was pushed back to May. We had attendees at the meeting regardless, as did the other sides involved. Catfish issues were not discussed.
We reach out to surrounding states and received support/information from them and their respective agencies.
February 24-25, 2018
Steve Douglas kindly provides us with a booth at the 2018 Catfish Conference. Chris Lee, Justin Browning, Chris Debow, Vic Shepherd and Dave Cox gather over 2500 signatures for our "Enhanced Regulations" petition. These signatures were later provided to KDFWR Wildlife Commissioners.
Meetings between the newly formed workgroup begin. These meetings included Anglers, State Legislatures, Fish & Wildlife, KDFWR Commissioners & Paylake / Commercial Fishing Reps. Ideas and topics are discussed as the Department considers drafting changes/enhancements to existing regulations. Discussions involved - closing loopholes to better enforce existing regulations, enhancing current regulation enforcement and tackling the issues with paylakes.
Catfish regulation items officially show on KDFWR's website - scheduled for the May Fisheries Committee Meeting, to be held in Frankfort, Ky.
Exposing Paylakes makes post and runs ads on Facebook promoting the May meeting. Several days later the KDFWR website calendar shows a venue change, from Frankfort to Western Kentucky. Our party was not notified of the venue change.
We email KDFWR to verify the venue change & meeting date:
Based on the venue change posted on KDFWR's website event calendar, Exposing Paylakes makes a post changing their Facebook event venue from Frankfort to western Kentucky. Again our party was not notified of the venue change.
KDFWR responds to our email & informs us that the May meeting has been moved to July. This delay officially ensures most of the new regs won't be available till 2020.