TPWD Temporarily Closes Fishing on Parts of Texas Coastline Due to Widespread Freezing Temperatures
Dec. 22, 2022
Media Contact: TPWD News, Business Hours, 512-389-8030
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AUSTIN – The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) has issued a temporary closure to saltwater fishing along parts of the Texas coast to protect resources during the upcoming freezing weather conditions. The closure takes effect at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 24. The public will be notified via news release, social media and the TPWD website when fishing may resume.
In addition to killing game fish in shallow bay waters, a hard freeze can cause surviving fish to congregate in a few deeper areas where they become sluggish and prone to capture. Those are the areas the department has temporarily closed.
"The high mortality that a freeze can cause may deplete fish stocks for years," said Robin Riechers, director of TPWD’s Coastal Fisheries Division. "Protection of the surviving fish during the few days when they are especially vulnerable to capture would likely shorten the time period for overall recovery of coastal species, especially spotted seatrout."
About two million acres of bays and estuaries in Texas are susceptible to freeze. There were three major freezes during the 1980s, including one in 1989 when the temperature in Brownsville dropped to 16 degrees Fahrenheit and an estimated 11 million fish were killed. During the last major freeze event in Feb. 2021, an estimated 3.8 million fish were killed on the Texas coast.
Anglers and coastal residents can report any freeze-related fish kills or large numbers of sluggish or cold-stunned fish by contacting TPWD’s Law Enforcement Communications office at (281) 842-8100 or (512) 389-4848. They can also use the web-based/phone application iNaturalist to report local impacts of winter storms on the coast. Contributing observations and photos of coastal aquatic life that you suspect might have been killed due to the cold helps provide our biologists the most up-to-date information to investigate.
Coastal Texans can also report stranded or cold stunned sea turtles to 1-866-TURTLE-5.
Visit the Outdoor Annual online to see the list of closed areas with a map feature.