Commercial fisher – A commercial fisher is any person who takes or who aids and assists another person in taking fish or other aquatic life from any of the waters, lakes, streams or ponds of this state for pay or for the purpose of sale, barter or exchange. Any person fishing with commercial fishing gear shall be deemed to be a commercial fisher within the meaning of this definition. All persons using fishing tackle or fishing gear other than that permitted to be used by a person having or holding a sport fishing license shall likewise be deemed and considered a commercial fisher within the meaning of this definition.
Commercial Fisher’s Helper – A commercial fisher’s helper is any person who assists another person in handling fishing gear, operation of motors or any other act of assistance to the commercial fisher while in the vessel with the commercial fisher. A helper’s license is issued in the commercial fisher’s name. Each commercial fisher must have in their possession a commercial helper’s license for each helper on board the vessel at any time. The helper must work in the boat with the commercial fisher whose name is on the helper’s license.
Wholesale Fish Dealer – A wholesale fish dealer is any person in the business of buying from a commercial fisher, fish or other edible aquatic life, or parts of fish or other edible aquatic life, or products taken from the waters of the state of Tennessee for the purpose of canning, preserving or processing; or any person in the business of buying from a wholesale fish dealer for the purpose of selling or handling for shipment or sale. Excluded from this definition are restaurants, hotels, grocery stores, retail fish markets, and other businesses that do not buy directly from a commercial fisher and that sell directly to the general public. Each separate place of business shall require a separate license.
Nonresident – Tennessee does not offer nonresident commercial fishing licenses to residents of states which do not permit the sale of nonresident licenses to residents of Tennessee. Nonresidents residing in states that do not permit the sale of nonresident licenses to residents of Tennessee are prohibited from engaging in the business of a “commercial fisher” (see definition above) in Tennessee.
COMMERCIAL FISHING GEAR
Legal gear types are trotlines, slat baskets, hoop nets, fyke nets, trap nets, pound nets, trammel nets, gill nets, seines, cast nets and turtle traps.
Hoop nets, fyke nets, trap nets and pound nets with a mesh size of one (1) inch or smaller on the square may only be fished during the months of October, November, December, January, February, March and April, except, the Mississippi River, where they may be fished year-round.
- Cast Net – A cast net is defined as a net having a maximum radius of ten (10) feet and a mesh size (square measure) of not less than one-fourth (1/4) inch and not greater than one (1) inch.
- Fish Seine – A fish seine consists of a float and lead line to which netting is attached. The netting of the seine shall be constructed of twine not smaller than Number 7 nylon or synthetic fiber or Number 9 cotton or linen. The maximum length of a fish seine is 50 feet. The mesh size of seines shall be one quarter-inch (1/4”) of larger or one-half (1/2”) inch or smaller on the square. Seines must be constantly attended, and may not be fished in a stationary manner. These seines may be fished in private waters and in waters which are replenished by overflows from the Mississippi, Tennessee, Obion, Hatchie, Wolf, Loosahatchie, and Forked Deer rivers, but which, during the dry season of the year, have no outlet to these rivers. Fish seines as defined here may also be used in the dewatering areas of Kentucky Lake.
- Fyke Net, Trap Net, and Pound Net – A fyke net, also known as a wing net, is a hoop net to which as many as three (3) wings or leads may by attached. Trap nets or pound nets which have rectangular or box shaped traps shall also be legal by this definition. The wings or leads are equipped with floats and sinkers, and the webbing of the wings shall be constructed of twine not smaller than Number 7 in nylon or Number 9 in cotton or linen. The maximum length of each wing is 50 feet. The legal mesh size of fyke nets and wings or leads is one (1) inch or smaller or three (3) inches or larger on the square.
- Gill Net – A gill net is defined as a single net attached to float and lead lines. Gill nets must have a minimum mesh size of three (3) inches on the square or greater. Gill nets with square mesh greater than 4.0 and less than 6.0 inches are prohibited except on the Mississippi River where square mesh greater than 4.0 and less than 5.0 inches are prohibited. The maximum length of a gill net is three hundred (300) yards. Gill nets must be fished in a stationary manner except in the Mississippi River. A net may not be hobbled to less than two thirds the height of the net.
- Trammel Net – A trammel net is defined as a net having three (3) webs (nets) hung to a single top (float) and bottom (lead) line. The two outside webs are called walling, and the inside web is called webbing. The inside webbing shall have a mesh size of not less than three (3) inches on the square. Webbing with square mesh greater than 4.0 inches and less than 6.0 inches is prohibited except on the Mississippi River where webbing with square mesh greater than 4.0 inches and less than 5.0 inches is prohibited. The outside walling shall have a mesh size of not less than six (6) inches on the square. The maximum mesh size of the outside walling shall consist of vertical ties or hobbles on each side of the webbing at six (6) foot intervals along the float and lead line. A net may not be hobbled to less than two thirds the height of the net. Maximum length of a trammel net is three hundred (300) yards. Trammel nets must be fished in a stationary manner except in the Mississippi River.
- Hoop Net – A barrel shaped net made of synthetic cotton, linen, or nylon and supported by hoops. A hoop net is also known as a barrel net, set net, funnel net, and trap net. One or more throats are attached inside the hoop structure. Legal mesh size of hoop nets is one (1) inch or smaller or three (3) inches or larger on the square. This definition applies to all waters except the Mississippi River.
- Slat Basket – A slat basket is defined as a device used for taking non-game or commercial fish only. Slat baskets may have only one outside funnel opening, and may be made of wood, plastic, or cane slats or splits which are placed lengthwise and constructed so that there must be a minimum of four openings, each being at least 1 1/2” wide and 6” long, in the catching area.
- Trotline – A main line with drop lines to which single hooks are attached and baited in order to catch fish. Such drops must not be closer than 24 inches to each other.
- Turtle Traps – A turtle trap is defined as a trap made of linen or cotton netting, wood or cane slats or strips, wire, or other similar materials with a minimum mesh size of three (3) inches on the square. Such traps must be constructed in a way as to permit the escape of fish through the three (3) inch openings. Turtle traps as defined herein may be used in all commercial waters. Turtle traps must be set so that a portion of the catching area is positioned above the water.
- Dip Net – A dip net is a net constructed from natural or synthetic fibers, which is attached to a frame that is attached to a pole. A dip net may only be used to commercially harvest turtles from Reelfoot Wildlife Management Area.