THE TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT (TPWD) Commission approved all the proposed changes to the saltwater fishing regulations at their recent meeting in Austin.
The following changes to the 2019-20 Statewide Recreational Fishing Proclamation, details of which will be incorporated into this year’s Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Outdoor Annual, have been adopted by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission:
• Extending the five fish bag limit for spotted seatrout to the upper coast, creating a coast-wide five fish bag limit.
• Requiring the use of non-offset, non-stainless steel circle hooks when fishing for sharks in state waters, except when fishing with artificial lures.
• Increasing the minimum size limit to 40 inches total length for Cobia.
• Closing oyster restoration areas in Galveston Bay, Matagorda Bay and Copano Bay for two harvest seasons.
The TPWD Commission adopted the following changes to the 2019-20 Statewide Recreational and Commercial Fishing Proclamations for freshwater.
• Lake Lakewood: Implement an 18-inch minimum length limit and three-fish daily bag for largemouth bass.
• Mill Creek Lake: Change from a 14- to 21-inch slot length limit and five fish daily bag limit for largemouth bass to a 16-inch maximum length limit and five-fish daily bag with an exception allowing for possession and weighing for bass 24 inches or greater for possible submission to ShareLunker program.
• Southeast Texas: Expand the area in Southeast Texas currently covered by the 12-inch minimum length limit for largemouth bass to include Hardin County, Newton County (excluding Toledo Bend Reservoir), and Liberty County south of U.S. Highway 90.
• Alan Henry Reservoir: Modify the harvest regulations for largemouth and Alabama bass by removing Alabama bass from the current regulation (five-fish daily bag of which only two bass less than 18 inches may be harvested). The combined daily bag limit would remain at five fish, but anglers may harvest Alabama bass of any length.
• Trinity River: Enact a 48-inch maximum length limit for alligator gar on the Trinity River from the I-30 bridge in Dallas downstream to the I-10 bridge in Chambers County, including the East Fork of the Trinity River upstream to the dam at Lake Ray Hubbard.
• A drawing will be implemented to allow selected anglers to harvest one alligator gar over 48 inches in length per year from the Trinity River. The draw system would allow non-transferable harvest authorization for a to-be-determined number of alligator gar. Authorizations would be selected and distributed through a random draw of interested applicants. Purchase of a fishing license would be required. This authorization could be used day or night, and alligator gar could be taken by any legal means.
• Between one half-hour after sunset and one half-hour before sunrise, no person may take or possess an alligator gar by means of lawful archery equipment or crossbow on the Trinity River unless they have received a harvest authorization through the drawing system.
• Statewide: All persons who take an alligator gar from the public fresh waters of the state other than Falcon International Reservoir would be required to report the harvest via the department’s website or by mobile app within 24 hours of take.
The commission did not move forward with proposals that would ban bow fishing for alligator gar at night statewide or to change current regulations on Lake Conroe for largemouth bass from a 16-inch minimum length limit and five-fish daily bag limit to a 14-inch minimum length limit and five-fish daily bag limit.
The changes to the 2019-20 Statewide Recreational and Commercial Fishing regulations take effect on September 1, 2019.