Legal Devices, Methods & Restrictions

Valid Sep. 1, 2018 through Aug. 31, 2019.

These devices, subject to restrictions listed, may be used to take fish and other aquatic life in Texas public waters.

  • Game fish may be taken only by pole and line (which includes rod and reel), except as otherwise provided in this guide.
  • A person may fish with multiple poles or other devices, except as provided in this guide.
  • In fresh water, it is unlawful to fish with more than 100 hooks on all devices combined.
  • In fresh water, it is unlawful to take fish with a hand-operated device held underwater except that a spear or spear gun may be used to take NONGAME fish.
  • Methods and devices not listed here are not legal for use in Texas.

Cast Net

A cast net is a net that can be hand-thrown over an area.

  • Legal only for taking NONGAME fish and other aquatic animal life including crabs, crayfish, and shrimp. (See shrimp regulations)
  • May not be greater than 14 feet in diameter.
  • In SALT WATER, nongame fish may be taken for bait purposes only.

Crab Line

A baited line with no hook attached.

  • No restrictions.

Crab Traps

  • Only 6 crab traps at a time may be fished for non-commercial purposes.
  • May only remove crab traps from the water or remove crabs from crab traps during the period from 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset.

Tagging Requirements

Must be used with a gear tag valid for 10 days and attached within 6 inches of the buoy or pier to which the trap is tied.

Construction and Design Restrictions

  • May not exceed 18 cubic feet.
  • Must be equipped with at least 2 escape vents in each crab-retaining chamber and located on the outside trap walls.
  • Escape vents must be at least 2-3/8 inches in diameter.
  • Must be marked with a white floating buoy not less than 6 inches in height, 6 inches in length and 6 inches in width, bearing a 2-inch wide center stripe of contrasting color, attached to the crab trap.
  • Buoys or floats may not be made of plastic bottle(s) of any color or size.
  • Must be equipped with a degradable panel. A trap is considered to have a degradable panel if one of the following methods is used in construction of the trap:
    • the trap lid tie-down strap is secured to the trap at one end by a simple loop of untreated jute twine, sisal twine or untreated steel wire with a diameter of 20 gauge or smaller. The trap lid must be secured so that when the twine or wire degrades, the lid will no longer be securely closed; or
    • the trap contains at least one sidewall, not including the bottom panel, with a rectangular opening no smaller in either dimension than 3 inches by 6 inches. Any obstruction placed in this opening may not be secured in any manner except it may be laced, sewn or otherwise obstructed by a single length of untreated jute twine, sisal twine or untreated steel wire with a diameter of 20 gauge or smaller knotted only at each end and not tied or looped more than once around a single mesh bar. When the twine or wire degrades, the opening in the sidewall of the trap will no longer be obstructed; or
    • the obstruction may be loosely hinged at the bottom of the opening by no more than two untreated steel hog rings and secured at the top of the obstruction in no more than one place by a single length of untreated jute twine, sisal twine or untreated steel wire with a diameter of 20 gauge or smaller. When the twine or wire degrades, the obstruction will hinge downward and the opening in the sidewall of the trap will no longer be obstructed.

Placement and Location Restrictions:

  • May not place a crab trap or portion thereof closer than 100 feet from any other crab trap, except when traps are secured to a pier or dock.
  • May not fish a crab trap in public fresh waters.
  • May not fish a crab trap within 200 feet of a marked navigable channel in Aransas County; and in the water area of Aransas Bay within one-half mile of a line from Hail Point on the Lamar Peninsula, then direct to the eastern end of Goose Island, then along the southern shore of Goose Island, then along the eastern shoreline of the Live Oak Peninsula past the town of Fulton, past Nine Mile Point, past the town of Rockport to a point at the east end of Talley Island including that part of Copano Bay within 1,000 feet of the causeway between Lamar Peninsula and Live Oak Peninsula.
  • May not possess, use or place more than 3 crab traps in waters north and west of Highway 146 where it crosses the Houston Ship Channel in Harris County.
  • May not use or place more than 3 crab traps in public waters of the San Bernard River north of a line marked by the boat access channel at Bernard Acres.
  • It is unlawful to place any type of trap within the area in Cedar Bayou between a department sign erected where Mesquite Bay flows into Cedar Bayou and the department sign erected near the point where the pass empties into the Gulf of Mexico.

Dip Net

A dip net is a mesh bag suspended from a frame attached to a handle.

  • Legal only for taking NONGAME fish and other aquatic animal life including crabs, crayfish, and shrimp.
  • May be used to aid in the landing of fish caught by other legal devices.
  • In SALT WATER, nongame fish may be taken for bait purposes only.

Folding Panel Traps

  • Only crabs may be taken.
  • Overall surface area (including panels) may not exceed 16 square feet.

Gaff

A gaff is any hand-held pole with a hook attached directly to the pole.

  • May only be used to aid in the landing of fish caught on other legal devices, means or methods.
  • Fish landed with a gaff MAY NOT be below the minimum, above the maximum, or within a protected length limit.

Gig

A gig is any hand-held shaft with single or multiple points, barbed or barbless.

  • May be used to take NONGAME fish only.

Handfishing

  • Fishing by the use of hands only. The use of any other fishing device while handfishing (including but not limited to gaff, pole hook, trap, spear or stick) is unlawful.
  • No person may intentionally place a trap (including such devices as boxes, barrels or pipes) in public fresh water for the purpose of taking catfish by handfishing.
  • May be used to take channel, blue and flathead catfish in fresh water only. 

Jugline

A fishing line with five or less hooks tied to a free-floating device.

  • For use in FRESH WATER only.
  • May be used to take NONGAME fish, channel catfish, blue catfish and flathead catfish only.

Tagging and Marking Requirements

  • Must be used with a valid GEAR TAG (see Definitions) attached within 6 inches of the free-floating device; gear tag is valid for 10 days after the date set out and must include the number of the permit to sell nongame fish taken from fresh water, if applicable. Properly marked buoys or floats qualify as valid gear tags.
  • For non-commercial purposes, a jugline must be marked with a free-floating device of any color other than orange.
  • For commercial purposes, a jugline must be marked with an orange, free-floating device.

Placement and Location Restrictions

Juglines may not be used in:

  • Community Fishing Lakes
  • Reservoirs or sections of rivers lying totally within the boundaries of a state park
  • Bellwood Lake in Smith County
  • Boerne City Lake in Kendall County
  • Canyon Lake Project #6 in Lubbock County
  • Dixieland Reservoir in Cameron County
  • Gibbons Creek Reservoir in Grimes County
  • Lake Bastrop in Bastrop County
  • Lake Bryan in Brazos County
  • Lakes Coffee Mill and Davy Crockett in Fannin County
  • Lake Pflugerville in Travis County
  • Lake Naconiche in Nacogdoches County
  • North Concho River from O.C. Fisher dam to the Bell Street dam
  • South Concho River from Lone Wolf dam to Bell Street dam
  • Tankersley Reservoir in Titus County
  • Wheeler Branch Reservoir in Somervell County

Lawful Archery Equipment

Lawful archery equipment includes longbow, recurved bow, compound bow and crossbow

  • May be used to take NONGAME fish only.
  • Any fish that is edible or can be used for bait (includes all gar species, common carp and buffalo) may not be released back into the water after being taken with lawful archery equipment. See Waste of Fish.
  • State regulations permit bow fishing in most public waters (see Exceptions to Statewide Freshwater Harvest Regulations and Restricted Areas in Counties. However, bow fishers are advised to check with local authorities that may have ordinances restricting use of archery equipment.
  • A person bow fishing on a navigable stream in Dimmit, Edwards, Frio, Kenedy, Llano, Maverick, Real, Uvalde, or Zavala counties may not possess an arrow equipped with fletching of any kind, an unbarbed arrow, or a bow that is not equipped with a reel and line.

Minnow Trap

  • Legal only for taking NONGAME fish and other aquatic animal life including crayfish and shrimp.
  • Trap may not exceed 24 inches in length. The throat may not exceed 1 inch by 3 inches.
  •  Gear tag valid for only 10 days must be visibly attached.

Oyster Dredge

May not be more than 14 inches in width.

Perch Traps

For use in SALT WATER only.

  • Legal only for taking NONGAME fish and other aquatic animal life including crayfish and shrimp.
  • May not exceed 18 cubic feet.
  • Must be marked with a floating visible orange buoy not less than 6 inches in height and 6 inches in width. The buoy must have a gear tag valid only for 10 days attached.
  • Must be equipped with a degradable panel as described for crab traps.
  • Buoys or floats may not be made of plastic bottle(s) of any color or size.
  • It is unlawful to place any type of trap within the area in Cedar Bayou between a department sign erected where Mesquite Bay flows into Cedar Bayou and the department sign erected near the point where the pass empties into the Gulf of Mexico.

Pole and Line

A line with hook, attached to a pole (includes rod and reel)

  • May be used to take GAME AND NONGAME fish.
  • It is unlawful to use a pole and line to take or attempt to take fish by foul-hooking, snagging, or jerking. A fish is foul-hooked when caught by a hook in an area other than the fish's mouth.
  • In the Guadalupe River in Comal County starting 800 yards downstream from the Canyon Dam release and extending downstream to the second bridge crossing on River Road, rainbow and brown trout may not be retained when taken by any method except artificial lures. In this area only, artificial lures cannot contain or have attached either whole or portions, living or dead, of organisms such as fish, crayfish, insects (grubs, larvae or adults) or worms, any other animal or vegetable material, or synthetic scented materials. This does not prohibit the use of artificial lures that contain components of hair or feathers. It is an offense to possess rainbow and brown trout while fishing with any other device in that part of the Guadalupe River defined in this paragraph.
  • Pole and line is the only lawful method for taking game and nongame fish from Community Fishing Lakes, sections of rivers lying totally within boundaries of a state park, the North Concho River from O.C. Fisher dam to the Bell Street dam, the South Concho River from Lone Wolf dam to Bell Street dam, Wheeler Branch Reservoir, Lake Pflugerville and Canyon Lake Project #6. 

Sail Line

For use in SALT WATER only. A type of trotline with one end of the main line fixed on the shore, the other end of the main line attached to a wind-powered floating device or sail.

  • Nongame fish, red drum, spotted seatrout and sharks may be taken with a sail line.
  • No more than 1 sail line may be used per fisherman.
  • The sail line must be attended at all times the line is fishing.
  • Sail lines may not be used by the holder of a commercial fishing license.
  • Sail lines may be used 7 days a week.

    Tagging Requirements

    • Must have a valid saltwater trotline tag for each 300 feet of mainline or fraction thereof being fished.

    Construction and Design Restrictions

    • Sail line may not exceed 1,800 feet from reel to sail.
    • Sail and the most shoreward float must be bright orange or red color. All other floats must be yellow. No float may be more than 200 feet from the sail.
    • A weight of 1 ounce or more must be attached to the line not less than 4 feet or more than 6 feet shoreward of the most shoreward float.
    • Reflectors of not less than 2 square inches shall be attached to the sail and floats. They must be easily seen from all directions. This applies for sail lines operated from 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise.
    • May have no more than 30 hooks.
    • There is no hook spacing requirement.
    • No hook may be placed more than 200 feet from the sail.
    • May be baited with either natural or artificial bait.

      Placement and Location Restrictions

      Sand Pump

      A self-contained, hand-held, hand-operated suction device used to remove and capture Callianassid ghost shrimp.

      • May only be manually operated.
      • May not be used for commercial purposes.

      Seine

      A seine is a section of non-metallic mesh webbing, with the top edge buoyed upwards by a floatline and the bottom edge weighted. Includes a push net.

      • Legal only for taking NONGAME fish and other aquatic animal life including crabs, crayfish, and shrimp.
      • May not be longer than 20 feet.
      • May not have mesh exceeding 1/2-inch square.
      • Must be manually operated.
      • In SALT WATER, nongame fish may be taken by seine for bait purposes only.

      Shad Trawl

      For use in FRESH WATER only. A bag-shaped net which is dragged along the bottom or through the water to catch aquatic life.

      • Legal only for taking NONGAME fish and other aquatic animal life including crayfish and shrimp.
      • May not be longer than 6 feet or with a mouth larger than 36 inches in diameter.
      • May be equipped with a funnel or throat and must be towed by boat or hand.

      Spear

      Any shaft with single or multiple points, barbed or barbless, which may be propelled by any means, but does not include arrows.

      • May be used to take NONGAME fish only.

      Spear Gun

      Any hand operated device designed and used for propelling a spear, but does not include the crossbow.

      • May be used to take NONGAME fish only. Not a legal means to take fish in a Community Fishing Lake.

      Throwline

      For use in FRESH WATER only. A fishing line with five or less hooks and with one end attached to a permanent fixture. Components of a throwline may also include swivels, snaps, rubber and rigid support structures.

      • May be used to take NONGAME fish, channel catfish, blue catfish and flathead catfish only.
      • A valid gear tag must be attached. Gear tag is valid for 10 days after the date set out.

      Placement and Location Restrictions

      Throwlines may not be used in:

      • Community Fishing Lakes
      • Reservoirs or sections of rivers lying totally within the boundaries of a state park
      • Bellwood Lake in Smith County
      • Boerne City Lake in Kendall County
      • Canyon Lake Project #6 in Lubbock County
      • Dixieland Reservoir in Cameron County
      • Gibbons Creek Reservoir in Grimes County
      • Lake Bastrop in Bastrop County
      • Lake Bryan in Brazos County
      • Lakes Coffee Mill and Davy Crockett in Fannin County
      • Lake Naconiche in Nacogdoches County
      • Lake Pflugerville in Travis County
      • North Concho River from O.C. Fisher dam to the Bell Street dam
      • South Concho River from Lone Wolf dam to Bell Street dam
      • Tankersley Reservoir in Titus County
      • Wheeler Branch Reservoir in Somervell County

      Trawl (Individual Bait-Shrimp Trawl)

      For use in SALT WATER only. A bag-shaped net which is dragged along the bottom or through the water to catch aquatic life. Only hand-operated trawls are permitted; use of mechanical devices is unlawful.

      • Only one trawl per boat is allowed.
      • Must have an individual bait-shrimp trawl tag in one’s possession while trawling (pg. 21).
      • Must not be greater than 20 feet in width between the doors.
      • Mesh size must not be smaller than 8-3/4 inches over a consecutive series of five stretched meshes.
      • Boards must not be larger than 450 square inches each.
      • Nongame fish (except those species regulated by bag or size limits) taken incidental to legal shrimping operations may be retained.
      • "Legal shrimping operations" means the use of a legal trawl in places, at times, and in manners as authorized by TPWD (see Shrimp Regulations).
      • 200 nongame fish taken with an individual bait-shrimp trawl may be retained per person for bait purposes only.

      Trotline

      A non-metallic main fishing line with more than five hooks attached and with each end attached to a fixture.

      • Nongame fish, channel catfish, blue catfish and flathead catfish may be taken by trotline.
      • Red drum, spotted seatrout and sharks caught on a trotline may not be retained or possessed.

      General Construction and Design Restrictions

      Trotlines may not be used with:

      • a mainline length exceeding 600 feet;
      • hooks spaced less than 3 horizontal feet apart;
      • metallic stakes;
      • or the main fishing line and attached hooks and stagings placed above the water's surface.

      Trotlines in Fresh Water

      Tag Requirements

      Trotlines in fresh water must be used with a valid gear tag. Properly marked buoys or floats qualify as valid gear tags. Gear tags must be attached within 3 feet of the first hook at each end of the trotline and are valid for 10 days after the date set out.

      Construction and Design Restrictions

      Trotlines in fresh water may not have more than 50 hooks on any one trotline.

      Placement and Location Restrictions

      Trotlines may not be used in:

      • Community Fishing Lakes
      • Reservoirs or sections of rivers lying totally within the boundaries of a state park
      • Bellwood Lake in Smith County
      • Boerne City Lake in Kendall County
      • Canyon Lake Project #6 in Lubbock County
      • Dixieland Reservoir in Cameron County
      • Fayette County Reservoir in Fayette County
      • Gibbons Creek Reservoir in Grimes County
      • Lake Bastrop in Bastrop County
      • Lake Bryan in Brazos County
      • Lakes Coffee Mill and Davy Crockett in Fannin County
      • Lake Naconiche in Nacogdoches County
      • Lake Pflugerville in Travis County
      • North Concho River from O.C. Fisher dam to the Bell Street dam
      • Pinkston Reservoir in Shelby County
      • South Concho River from Lone Wolf dam to Bell Street dam
      • Tankersley Reservoir in Titus County
      • Wheeler Branch Reservoir in Somervell County

      Trotlines In Salt Water

      No more than 1 trotline may be used per fisherman.

      Tag Requirements

      • Must have a valid Saltwater Trotline Tag attached to each 300 feet of mainline or fraction thereof. (Tag must be purchased at TPWD Law Enforcement offices.)
      • Must be used with a valid GEAR TAG attached within 3 feet of the first hook at each end of the trotline. Tag does not need to be dated.

      Construction and Design Restrictions

      • Must be marked with a yellow floating buoy not less than 6 inches in height, 6 inches in length and 6 inches in width, bearing a two-inch wide stripe of contrasting color, attached to end fixtures.
      • Buoys or floats may not be made of plastic bottle(s) of any color or size.
      • May not be baited with other than natural bait. Natural bait is a whole or cut-up portion of a fish or shellfish or a whole or cut-up portion of plant material in its natural state, provided that none of these may be altered beyond cutting into portions.
      • May not be used with hooks other than circle-type hook with point curved in and having a gap (distance from point to shank) of no more than one-half inch, and with the diameter of the circle not less than five-eighths inch.

        Placement and Location Restrictions

        • May not be used in or on the waters of the Gulf of Mexico within the jurisdiction of this state.
        • May not be placed closer than 50 feet from any other trotline, or set within 200 feet of the edge of the Intracoastal Waterway or its tributary channels.
        • May not be used in Aransas County in Little Bay and the water area of Aransas Bay within one-half mile of a line from Hail Point on the Lamar Peninsula, then direct to the eastern end of Goose Island, then along the southern shore of Goose Island, then along the causeway between Lamar Peninsula and Live Oak Peninsula, then along the eastern shoreline of the Live Oak Peninsula past the town of Fulton, past Nine-Mile Point, past the town of Rockport to a point at the east end of Talley Island, including that part of Copano Bay within 1,000 feet of the causeway between Lamar Peninsula and Live Oak Peninsula.
        • No trotline or trotline components (EXCEPT Sail Lines), including lines and hooks, but excluding poles, may be left in or on coastal waters between the hours of 1 p.m. on Friday through 1 p.m. on Sunday of each week, except attended sail lines. In the event small craft advisories or higher marine weather advisories issued by the National Weather Service are in place at 8 a.m. on Friday, trotlines may remain in the water until 6 p.m. on Friday. If small craft advisories are in place at 1 p.m. on Friday, trotlines may remain in the water until Saturday. When small craft advisories are lifted by 8 a.m. on Saturday, trotlines must be removed by 6 p.m. on Saturday. When small craft advisories or higher marine weather advisories are still in place at 1 p.m. on Saturday, trotlines may remain in the water through 1 p.m. on Sunday. It is a violation to tend, bait, or harvest fish or any other aquatic life from trotlines during the period that trotline removal requirements are suspended under this provision for adverse weather conditions. For purposes of enforcement, the geographic area customarily covered by marine weather advisories will be delineated by department policy.

        Umbrella Net

        A non-metallic mesh net that is suspended horizontally in the water by multiple lines attached to a rigid frame.

        • Legal only for taking NONGAME fish and other aquatic animal life including crabs, crayfish, and shrimp.
        • May not have within the frame an area that exceeds 16 square feet.