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Press Release

Lake Guntersville Offers Great Fishing for Recreational and Commercial Anglers

February 25, 2005

Guntersville Lake continues to yield phenomenal catches of bass, as evidenced by the ongoing CITGO Bassmasters tournament.  Oklahoma’s Edwin Evers leads the tournament with a total of 27 pounds, 15 ounces.  Evers’ largest bass, a seven-pounder, anchored a five-fish catch. 

Guntersville is a highly productive lake due to its fertility and generally shallow depth combined with ideal habitat and location.  Recreational fishing and commercial fishing have co-existed peacefully on the Tennessee River system for many decades.  There are currently five commercial fishing licenses issued in Marshall County and six in Jackson County.  Most fish caught by commercial anglers are rough fish, not game fish.  It is illegal for netters to keep or sell game fish.  While some gamefish are inadvertently caught in the nets, impact to fish populations is minimal.

State Fisheries biologists routinely sample fish populations on all public waters of Alabama, and Guntersville continues to support a very healthy bass population despite heavy fishing pressure.  Mortality from gill nets and post-release mortality from tournaments have not impacted bass populations to the degree that current regulations need to be modified.  However, Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries will continue to evaluate the bass populations of Alabama’s public waters to ensure our aquatic resources are protected and enhanced for all anglers.

In an isolated incident recently, a fishing guide reported an encounter with a commercial fisherman, claiming that the commercial fisherman brandished a shotgun when the angler was attempting to unhook a lure hung in the commercial fisherman’s net.  Marine Police officers investigated the complaint and found no evidence the commercial angler had a shotgun.  Under Alabama law, a law enforcement officer must witness an offense in order to make an arrest without a warrant.

Therefore, any person alleging illegal activity or involved in any confrontation on the water should immediately report the incident and would be required to identify the perpetrator and obtain a warrant from the District Attorney in the appropriate county.  State Conservation officers routinely check both commercial anglers and recreational anglers to ensure compliance with state laws. DCNR’s authority to restrict gill-netting on the Tennessee River was overturned in a 1977 court decision, State v. Lash.

Both commercial fishing and sport fishing are closely monitored.  Illegal commercial activity is subject to fines and forfeiture of equipment including boats and associated equipment.  Commercial fishermen may not take game fish, which include largemouth bass, crappie and other species.  Any person who suspects illegal commercial fishing activity or sport fishing violations (such as exceeding the daily creel limit or taking undersize fish) should contact the appropriate authorities at the following numbers:  Gamewatch toll free at 1-800-272-GAME or the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries District II law enforcement office, 256-435-1642 or 256-582-1099 for the Alabama Marine Police District I headquarters.

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through five divisions: Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Parks, State Lands, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries.