Commission Agenda Item No. 13
Presenters: Craig Bonds
Lance Robinson

Issues Related to Fishing Gear Abandoned in Public Waters;
Fish Mortality Tied to Hook Choices
May 22, 2019

I.      Executive Summary: The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) Inland and Coastal Fisheries staff will provide an update on the mortality of fish and wildlife due to abandoned fishing gear and hook choices.

II.     Discussion:  In fresh water, abandoned passive gear (such as trotlines, juglines, and throwlines) may have impacts on target and non-target species due to ghost fishing, can impair public navigation and safety, and pose unique litter and disposal challenges. Staff research on ghost fishing will be presented.

Due to recent Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission actions, catch-and-release angling for alligator gar could potentially increase. Little information is available on delayed mortality due to hooking mortality or on the impacts of hook type and hooking techniques on this mortality. Inland Fisheries staff will outline strategies to investigate this issue including soliciting input from rod-and-reel alligator gar fishing guides that could be used to assist in developing best practices for use of hook types and hook-setting methods to minimize hooking mortality on alligator gar. 

Saltwater anglers in Texas have increased the practice of catch-and-release angling. The use of circle hooks among commercial and recreational anglers has gained in popularity and become more frequently used as a conservation strategy by other state and federal resource management agencies. A growing body of research shows that injury and mortality rates are often lower for circle hooks compared with more conventional hook types. However, research results have also been somewhat disparate and have shown that several factors can affect the overall effectiveness of circle hooks. The use of circle hooks may be one of many tools to help reduce catch-and-post-release mortality with certain types of fishing.