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TPWD Finalizes Hunting and Fishing Regulations for 2011-12
AUSTIN – The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopted hunting and fishing regulations for 2011-12 with relatively few changes. All amendments take effect Sept. 1, 2011.
Topping the list are regulation changes impacting turkey hunting, and potential alteration of some size and bag limits in waters shared with Louisiana.
Effective for the 2012 season, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is closing spring turkey hunting in the following 15 East Texas counties in response to low populations and harvest numbers: Cherokee, Delta, Gregg, Hardin, Houston, Hunt, Liberty, Montgomery, Rains, Rusk, San Jacinto, Shelby, Smith, Tyler and Walker.
Closing spring turkey seasons in these counties will enable biologists to reassess Eastern turkey restoration efforts in areas having suitable habitat, restock sites and provide brood stock protection. The agency’s goal is to reopen hunting once the Eastern turkey populations in the affected counties are capable of sustaining harvest.
Also effective for the 2012 season, TPWD is delaying spring Eastern turkey hunting in the remaining counties having an open season by two weeks, to run from April 15-May 14 beginning in 2012. Biologists say the delay gives hens time to begin nesting prior to the season opening.
Beginning in 2012, hunters may harvest any bearded Rio Grande turkey during the spring season in all counties having a bag limit of four turkeys.
A cooperative effort between TPWD and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to standardize fishing regulations on waters shared by the two states also received approval by the TPW Commission, pending adoption of similar changes by Louisiana in June.
Waters affected by the agreement include Toledo Bend Reservoir, Caddo Lake and the Sabine River from Toledo Bend dam downstream to the Interstate 10 bridge. The proposal would also redefine the Toledo Bend Reservoir boundary from the U.S. Highway 84 bridge upstream to where the river and the state line diverge.
The amendments are intended to maintain quality angling and make compliance and enforcement uniform in both Texas and Louisiana jurisdictions, which should reduce potential angler confusion. Specific changes to existing harvest regulations on all three water bodies are as follows:
- Blue and channel catfish — no minimum length limit and a 50-fish (in combination) daily bag, of which only five blue and/or channel catfish 20 inches or greater in length may be retained per day; for flathead catfish an increase in the daily bag limit from five fish to 10 fish.
- Black and white crappie — eliminate the10-inch minimum length limit, and on Toledo Bend only, decrease the daily bag limit from 50 to 25 and remove the winter no-release restriction.
- Bass — on the Sabine River below Toledo Bend Reservoir, current regulations would be modified to mirror harvest regulations for largemouth bass, spotted bass, striped bass, and white bass that are in effect on Toledo Bend Reservoir. On Caddo Lake, the existing daily bag limit for largemouth and spotted bass would be increased to eight, and the 14-18 inch slot length limit for largemouth bass would be modified to allow the harvest of no more than four largemouth bass 18 inches or larger. Also, the existing 10-inch minimum length limit for white bass would be removed.
Other changes to fishing regulations taking effect Sept. 1, 2011 include the following:
- Wheeler Branch Reservoir, a new 180-acre impoundment in Somervell County that will open for fishing Sept. 1, 2011 will have a 14-21 inch slot length limit for largemouth bass; an 18-inch minimum length limit for smallmouth bass; and a five-fish per day bag limit for black bass (combined) including no more than three smallmouth bass and only one largemouth bass 21 inches or greater.
- On Kirby Reservoir (Taylor County) and Lake Palestine (Cherokee, Anderson, Henderson, and Smith counties), the minimum length limit is eliminated for blue and channel catfish and a 50-fish daily bag limit, of which only five blue and/or channel catfish 20 inches or greater in length could be retained per day.
- Establish harvest regulations for largemouth and black bass on Lake Kyle in Hays County, which is set to open to the public by mid-2012, including a 14-21 inch slot length limit for largemouth bass and a five-fish daily bag limit for black bass (combined), with only one largemouth bass of 21 inches or greater.
- Alter bass regulations on Lake Alan Henry (Garza County) to implement a combination regulation of no minimum length limit for largemouth bass or spotted bass; a five-fish daily bag limit; a daily retention limit of no more than two largemouth or spotted bass less than 18 inches; and a 14-inch minimum length limit and five-fish daily bag limit for smallmouth bass.
- Clarify that only natural bait may be used when fishing for red snapper by means of a circle hook to make state rules consistent with federal rules.
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