AUSTIN — Expansion into the Texas coastal bend of special harvest regulations on spotted seatrout, and harvest modifications to the state’s only year-round freshwater trout fishery have been approved by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.
As part of the 2014-15 Statewide Recreational and Commercial Fishing Proclamation, the Commission adopted rules to extend a 5-fish bag limit currently in effect in the Lower Laguna Madre up the coast through the Highway 457 bridge near Sargent with a five-year sunset date. The Commission modified the original proposal to set the possession limit on spotted seatrout for the area from the Lower Laguna Madre to the Highway 457 bridge twice the daily bag limit (10 fish in possession).
The Commission also approved a temporary 2-year closure of oyster harvest at a 54-acre oyster restoration site on Half-Moon Reef in Matagorda Bay, and a 2-year temporary closure of seven restoration sites in East Galveston Bay.
In other changes to saltwater fishing regulations, the Commission extended the two flounder per day bag limit restrictions currently in effect for the month of November into the first two weeks of December. During these first two weeks of December, however, harvest would be allowed by any legal means.
For freshwater, the Commission approved changes to the rainbow and brown trout fishery along a section of the Guadalupe River below Canyon Reservoir establishing 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.
The Commission also granted authority for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Executive Director to impose temporary prohibition of alligator gar fishing in specified areas to provide additional protection during spawning activity. Closures would be invoked in a selected area, limited to no more than 30 days, and occur only in areas having an active moderate flood event with water temperatures within an optimum range for alligator gar spawning.
In other freshwater fishing regulation changes, the Commission adopted the following:
- 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 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: the special limits for freshwater lakes where red drum have been stocked are removed and regulations 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 remains at three.
- Lake Kyle: regulations changed to catch and release (no harvest) of channel and blue catfish, largemouth bass, or any sunfish species.
- Canyon Lake Project #6: Harvest regulation for channel and blue catfish changed to no minimum length limit and a five-fish daily bag and anglers 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: Anglers restricted to using two poles.
- 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.
All changes take effect Sept. 1, 2014.