Fishermen upset as Army Corps of Engineers tightens restrictions

Posted: Updated:
  • Inside azfamily.comMore>>

  • New state policy angers fishermen

    New state policy angers fishermen

    Tuesday, January 15 2013 2:53 PM EST2013-01-15 19:53:52 GMT
    Fishermen across the state are angry over regulations that could keep them out of their favorite fishing spots. The agency putting those bans in place say, it's all about safety. The Army Corps of EngineersMore >
    Fishermen across the state are angry over regulations that could keep them out of their favorite fishing spots.More >

Emotions were heated at a meeting Tuesday about a popular method of fishing in Tennessee.

The Army Corps of Engineers is tightening up the rules when it comes to taking boats near its dams, and several hundred people turned out to voice their frustration.

There was a small demonstration earlier in the day outside the Corps' office at the federal courthouse downtown, as many local fishermen said they want to be able to continue to fish in the waters around the dam.

The fishermen contend there have only been nine fatalities in 43 years, and that, they say, is evidence that people know how to be careful when they're fishing around dams.

"There's no reason at all why I'm being told I can't fish somewhere that I fished for 30 years. It's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard," said fisherman Bill Bethel.

"The last time we checked, these are public resources held by the people held in trust by the state," said Mike Butler from the Tennessee Wildlife Association.

There has already been a formal policy in place that prohibits fishing in the hazardous waters upstream and downstream of all the locks and dams the Corps owns, which includes 10 dams on the Cumberland River and its tributaries.

However, for the first time that ban is going to be enforced, and that has a lot of people who fish in the head and tailwaters upset.

Fishing is more than just recreation to some folks. Professional fishing guides make a living bringing people from all over the country to Tennessee waters. Fishing, they say, creates millions of dollars of revenue for the state.

The Corps is proposing to use a system of buoys to rope off access to the areas closest to the dams, and it would be up to local law police to enforce the regulations.

While the Corps encounters resistance to this proposal, the fight is moving to Washington as U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander is pushing the Corps to reconsider. Alexander said the tailwaters are not dangerous when the water isn't spilling through the dam and said he'll explore changing the law if the Corps goes forward.

Copyright 2013 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

  • Fishermen upset as Army Corps of Engineers tightens restrictionsMore>>