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Saltwater Anglers Reminded of Changes in Regs
AUSTIN, Texas — Starting Sept. 1, new fishing regulations for spotted seatrout in the Lower Laguna Madre and offshore fishing statewide go into effect.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission April 5 approved lowering both the bag and possession limits for spotted seatrout in the Lower Laguna Madre from 10 to 5.
The reduction in the limits addresses a downward trend in the spawning stock biomass of spotted seatrout in the Lower Laguna Madre — a trend that runs counter to steadily increasing populations elsewhere on the coast.
Of particular concern to TPWD biologists is that spotted seatrout spawning stock biomass currently is about half what it was at the time of the 1983-1984 freeze, which resulted in a major kill of spotted seatrout and other species along the lower coast. A greater number of reproducing fish can help stocks recover faster after such a catastrophic event.
The new regulation applies to the entire Lower Laguna Madre, from Marker 21 in the Landcut, to South Bay and including the Brownsville Ship Channel and Arroyo Colorado. The new regulation applies to “inside waters,“ waters landward from the shoreline along the Gulf of Mexico. The Gulf beaches are not included in the area, but any boats fishing in Gulf waters and landing their catches within the boundaries are subject to the lower bag limits.
The 80th Texas Legislature also passed a bill requiring anyone landing fish caught in the Gulf of Mexico in Texas to possess a valid Texas saltwater fishing license and saltwater stamp endorsement. The bill, introduced as H.B. 3765, was rolled into H.B. 12 and signed into law by Gov. Rick Perry June 15.
Previously, anglers fishing in federal waters — often on “party” or “head” boats, but on private boats as well — were not required to have a Texas fishing license. Anglers exempt from the requirement to hold fishing license and saltwater stamp endorsement (for instance, anglers under the age of 17 or those born before Sept. 1, 1930) also are exempt from the new law.
Also, beginning Sept. 1, anglers are reminded that:
- The minimum length limit for sheepshead has increased from 12 inches to 13 inches, and will continue to increase in one-inch per year increments until the minimum length for possession is 15 inches.
- The minimum length limit for tarpon now is 85 inches.
- Circle hooks are required when fishing for red snapper in state waters.
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