TPWD Seeks Input on Texas Freshwater Fishing Regulation Proposals for 2023–24

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AUSTIN – The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s (TPWD) 2023–24 proposed freshwater fishing regulation changes focus on simplifying and clarifying fishing-related rules on waters within public parks, particularly Community Fishing Lakes (CFLs). Additional changes could remove unnecessary exceptions and clarify water-body boundaries.

“We aim to make those angling experiences as easy and enjoyable as possible,” said Craig Bonds, TPWD’s Inland Fisheries Division Director. “Our staff has been intentional about coordinating with city, county and state parks authorities to provide quality fishing opportunities in these waters, most of which reside within safe and convenient locations for families to enjoy time spent outdoors.”

The proposed changes also include modified largemouth bass and catfish regulations on select waterbodies and the removal of fishing regulations for Gibbons Creek Reservoir due to the closure of public access to the fishery.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is taking public comment on the following proposed changes to the 2023–24 Statewide Recreational and Commercial Fishing Proclamation, with input to be considered before any action by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission at its March 23 public hearing.

  • Modify the definition of and fishing regulations for Community Fishing Lakes (CFLs) as follows:
    • Clarify that CFLs include all public impoundments 75 acres or smaller that are located totally within incorporated city limits or a public park, including municipal, city, county, or state parks. The new definition will exclude impoundments greater than 75 acres that are totally within the boundaries of state parks.
    • Remove special exceptions for blue and channel catfish and remove statewide daily bag, possession, and length limits for other species of fish to implement a daily bag limit of five (all species combined) with one black bass greater than 14 inches.
    • Continue largemouth bass special exceptions for five CFLs.
    • Clarify the pole-and-line restrictions for CFLs, state park lakes and Deputy Darren Goforth Park Lake.
    • Changes to CFL regulations require modifications to catfish regulations for three state park lakes: Abilene (Taylor County), Raven (Walker County) and Sheldon (Harris County) to remove special exceptions for blue and channel catfish to implement a daily bag limit of 15 and 14-inch minimum length limit.
  • Apply the CFL fishing regulations to seven water bodies for management consistency with CFLs to remove special exceptions for blue and channel catfish and remove statewide daily bag, possession, and length limits for other species of fish to implement a daily bag limit of five (all species combined) with one black bass greater than 14 inches.
  • Modify largemouth bass harvest regulations for Lake Nasworthy (Tom Green County) to eliminate special exceptions (14- to 18-inch slot length limit) to statewide daily bag, possession and length limits and return to statewide regulations.
  • Implement a largemouth bass catch-and-release regulation for the newly renovated Lake Forest Park (Denton County, City of Denton).
  • Remove fishing regulations for Gibbons Creek Reservoir. This reservoir is privately owned and no longer open to the public.
  • Modify catfish harvest regulations for Dixieland Lake (Cameron County) to remove special exceptions for blue and channel catfish and remove statewide daily bag, possession, and length limits for other species of fish to implement a daily bag limit of five (all species combined) with one black bass greater than 14 inches. Dixieland Lake’s size has been reassessed, and it is classified as a CFL.
  • Modify catfish harvest regulations for Bellwood (Smith County) and Tankersley (Titus County) lakes to eliminate special exceptions to statewide daily bag, possession, and length limits for blue and channel catfish and return to statewide regulations.
  • Delineate the upstream reservoir boundaries for Choke Canyon Reservoir (Live Oak and McMullen counties) and O.H. Ivie Reservoir (Coleman, Concho and Runnels counties) to differentiate between the inflowing river and the reservoir where special exceptions to statewide daily bag, possession and length limits are in place.
  • Correct the upstream reservoir boundary road name for Lake Conroe (Montgomery and Walker counties).

Additional details on the proposed regulation changes, including narrated presentations on the proposed changes, can be found on the public comment page and in the Texas Register.

Opportunities to provide comments for or against these proposals include:

Online:  At TPWD public comment page until March 22.

Phone or email: Comments on the proposed changes may be submitted to Michael Tennant at (512) 389-8754, email: Michael.Tennant@tpwd.texas.gov.

Online webinar: TPWD staff will present proposed fishing regulation changes and answer questions in an online webinar at 6 p.m. on March 7. The webinar will also be posted on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s YouTube channel and Facebook page.

In person: The TPW Commission will take public comment on the proposed changes at their meeting on Thursday, March 23, in Austin. Public testimony will normally be limited to three minutes per person.