The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has proposed a slew of saltwater and freshwater regulation changes, including an extension of the daily speckled trout limit of five fish up the coast.
Other noteworthy changes would alter harvest regulations for flounder and rainbow trout on the Guadalupe River below Canyon Lake dam, and additional restrictions on the harvest of alligator gar during critical periods of spawning. Department staff presented proposed amendments to the 2014-15 Statewide Recreational and Commercial Fishing Proclamation to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission. The recommended changes include:
- Oyster harvest: Temporary two-year closure of a 54-acre oyster restoration site on Half-Moon reef in Matagorda Bay, and a two-year temporary closure of seven restoration sites located in East Galveston Bay.
- Flounder: Extension of the November two-fish bag limit through the first 2 weeks of December, and during those two weeks harvest would be allowed by any legal means.
- Speckled trout: Extension of the five-fish bag and possession limit up the coast through East Matagorda Bay with a five-year sunset date.
- Guadalupe River below Canyon Reservoir (Comal County): rainbow and brown trout regulations on a section of the river would be changed to a 12- to 18-inch slot length limit with a five-fish daily bag limit, harvest by artificial lures only, and only one trout over 18 inches could be retained. The new regulation zone would begin 800 yards downstream from the Canyon Dam release and extend downstream to the easternmost Highway 306 bridge crossing.
- Texas/Louisiana Border Waters (Toledo Bend Reservoir, Caddo Lake, and the Lower Sabine River in Newton and Orange Counties): regulations for blue and channel catfish would be changed to no minimum length limit and a 50-fish daily bag limit in any combination, of which no more than five blue or channel catfish 30 inches or longer could be retained.
- Tradinghouse Creek Reservoir (McLennan County): the special limits for freshwater lakes where red drum have been stocked would be removed and regulations would revert to statewide length limits (20-inch minimum length limit, 28-inch maximum length limit, and harvest of up to two red drum 28 inches or longer per year with trophy drum tag). Bag limit would remain at three.
- Lake Kyle (Hays County): regulations would be changed to catch and release (no harvest) of channel and blue catfish, largemouth bass, or any sunfish species.
- Canyon Lake Project No. 6 (Lubbock County): Changes implemented last year were not fully implemented. To correct this, the harvest regulation for channel and blue catfish would be changed to no minimum length limit and a five-fish daily bag and anglers would be restricted to only two poles.
- North Concho River from O. C. Fisher Dam to Bell Street Dam and the South Concho River from Lone Wolf Dam to Bell Street Dam (Tom Green County): anglers would be restricted to using two poles.
- Jug line floats: Recreational anglers who fish with jug lines will be allowed to use floats of any color except orange. Commercial anglers will continue to be restricted to using orange-colored floats.
In addition to the proposed changes noted above, the TPW Commission directed staff to include for public comment proposed changes to alligator gar harvest regulations. The changes would give the TPWD Executive Director the authority to temporarily prohibit taking or attempting to take alligator gar in any area where conditions such as water temperature and water levels would be conducive for spawning of alligator gar.
Typically, alligator gar do not spawn every year. This change would add increased protection to spawning gar in certain areas when they are concentrated and most vulnerable to over-harvest. Closures would be invoked only during those limited times when and where the specified conditions are occurring, and the public would be notified as soon as the closure is invoked.
Proposed changes can be found in the Feb. 21 edition of the Texas Register and on the TPWD website.
Comments on the proposed rules may be submitted by phone or e-mail to Robert Macdonald 512-389-4775; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, Texas 78744. Comments may also be submitted through the department’s internet web site after February 21 and at the following upcoming public meetings scheduled around the state.
TPWD Public Hearing Schedule (all meetings set for 7 p.m.)
- Alpine, March 10, Sul Ross, Range Animal Science Bldg, Rm 103, East Hwy 90
- Sulphur Springs, March 10, Hopkins Co. Courthouse, 118 Church St.
- New Braunfels, March 10, WORD Offices, 1928 FM 2673, Canyon Lake
- Port Arthur, March 11, Holiday Inn, Neches Room, 2929 Jimmy Johnson Blvd.
- Dickinson, March 11, Doyle Convention Center, Williams Goyens Room, 2010 5th Ave North, Texas City
- Van Horn, March 12, El Capitan Hotel Conference Room, 100 East Broadway
- Marshall, March 12, Marshall Lions Community Center, 1201 Louisiana St.
- Zapata, March 12, Zapata County Technical and Advance Education Center, Rm 128, 605 N. US Hwy 83
- Port Lavaca, March 12, Bauer Exhibit Building, 186 CR 101
- San Antonio, March 13, Bass Pro Shops, 17907 IH-10 West
- Rockport, March 13, Aransas County Courthouse, 301 N. Live Oak
- Lubbock, March 17, Texas Agrilife Research and Extension Center, 1102 E. FM1294
- Nacogdoches, March 17, Nacogdoches County Courthouse Annex, 203 West Main
- Dallas-Fort Worth, March 17, Cabela’s, 1 Cabelas Dr., Allen
- Palestine, March 17, Ben E. Keith Building, 2019 W. Oak Street
- Huntsville, March 19, Walker County Storm Shelter, 455 Highway 75 N
- Port Isabel, March 19, Port Isabel Community Center, 213 Yturria
- Amarillo, March 19, Texas AgriLife Extension Center, 6500 Amarillo Blvd West
- Corpus Christi, March 20, Del Mar College Center for Economic Development, 3209 S. Staples St., Room 106
- Center, March 20, Fannie Brown Booth Library, Redditt Room, 619 Tenaha St.
- Houston, March 20, Sheldon Lake State Park, 15315 Beaumont Hwy
- Austin, March 20, TPWD HQ Commission Hearing Room, 4200 Smith School Road