Assessment of a 178-mm Minimum Length Limit on Bluegill at Purtis Creek State Park Lake, Texas

We compared relative abundance, size distribution, growth, and harvest of bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus) before and after implementation of a 178-mm minimum length limit at 144-ha Purtis Creek State Park Lake (PCSPL), Texas. Relative abundance [catch/hour of electrofishing (CPUE)] was significantly lower in post-regulation years (1993-1995, 243/hour) than in pre-regulation years (1990-1992, 520/hour). However, this decline was likely more attributed to recruitment patterns than to regulation effects. There was no significant difference (P = 0.18) between pre- and post-regulation bluegill size distribution. The only significant change in pre- and post-regulation mean length-at-age was for age-1 bluegill (134 mm vs. 123 mm, P = 0.04). However, this difference is suspect due to low sample sizes and the effect of extended spawning period on the “actual” age of bluegill captured in the fall. Mean bluegill angler total effort, and catch, release, and harvest rates declined significantly (P < 0.05) from pre- to post-regulation. Mean weight of bluegill harvested increased significantly (88 to 152 g, P = 0.02) but total yield declined (633 kg to 72 kg, P = 0.03) after the regulation was implemented. We were unable to detect any benefits to the bluegill population or to anglers. Thus, we recommend removal of the regulation.

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