Salty changes are on the horizon as TPWD proposes a shift to saltwater fishing regulations for 2019-2020, with a reduction of spotted seatrout (speckled trout) at the heart of the argument.
TPWD recommends extending the 5-fish bag limit of spotted seatrout to the upper coast, creating a uniform bag limit for speckled trout coastwide.
Currently, the 5-fish limit affects all water south of the Sargent bridge, with a 10-trout bag from that point north to Sabine Pass, including Freeport and the heavily-fished Galveston Bay Complex.
According to TPWD mail-out surveys, 71% of licensed fishing guides on Galveston Bay surveyed approve of the bag limit reduction, while just over 40% of guides on Sabine Lake approve.
TPWD creel surveys noted an overwhelming number of Texas anglers who launch on the Louisiana side of Sabine Lake and partake of the Louisiana 15-fish trout limit. TPWD also said surveys indicate most of those anglers take less than five trout daily, regardless of the liberal limits.
Galveston Bay guides have lobbied for the reduction for the past three years, citing a stack-up of fish and fishing pressure along the lower end of the bay due to fall and spring floods. Reefs along the Galveston Channel and East Galveston Bay were littered with hundreds of boats, most of which took their 10-fish limit.
Since, fishing success has suffered, but other factors could be to blame as well, including three consecutive years of catastrophic flooding along the San Jacinto and Trinity rivers.
Upper coast anglers have pointed to the success of middle and lower coast fishing success since the 5-fish trout limit was enacted in 2014.
Sharks, cobia and oysters are also up for debate.
TPWD proposes requiring the use of non-offset, non-stainless steel circle hooks when fishing for sharks in state waters, except when fishing with artificial lures; the minimum size limit for cobia would be extended to 40 inches; and, oyster restoration areas in Galveston, Matagorda and Copano bays would be closed to harvest for two seasons.
TPWD will be taking public comment on the following proposed changes to the 2019-2020 Statewide Recreational Fishing Proclamation, with input to be considered before any action by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission at its March 20 public hearing:
The public is encouraged to provide comment on the proposed regulation changes. Opportunities to provide comments for or against these proposals include:
Facebook Live Webinar: TPWD Coastal Fisheries staff will present proposed fishing regulation changes and answer questions in a Facebook Live webinar at noon Feb. 27 on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Facebook page.
Public hearings: TPWD staff will be hosting several public hearings on the upper coast to receive input from stakeholders and constituents concerning the proposed regulation changes.
Tuesday, Feb. 26 at 6 p.m. at the Nessler Civic Center 2010 5th Ave N, Texas City, TX 77590
Thursday, Feb. 28 at 6 p.m. at the Port Arthur Civic Center 3401 Cultural Center Dr; Port Arthur, TX 77642
Monday, March 4 at 7 p.m. at The San Jacinto River Authority 1577 Dam Site Rd, Conroe, TX 77304
Online:Â TPWD public comment page is taking comments on the proposals until March 19 or by email to email@example.com. The TPW Commission will take public comment on the proposed changes at their meeting on Wednesday, March 20 in Austin. Public testimony will normally be limited to three minutes per person.
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