Fishing in Federal Waters

Anglers fishing more than 9 nautical miles off the coast of Texas are in federal waters and are subject to rules and regulations that may differ from those in state waters. One example is the federal requirement to use non-stainless circle hooks when fishing for reef fish. Recreational anglers must have a Texas fishing license and saltwater endorsement to possess in state water or land in Texas any fish taken in federal waters. TPWD has the authority to open and close the red snapper fishery in federal water. Anglers may not possess more than 4 red snapper while fishing. See the latest information regarding red snapper season dates. Federal commercial and recreational fishing rules are available on the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council website.

Anglers fishing for any species of reef fish must possess a descending device or venting tool ready to be deployed on fish exhibiting signs of barotrauma.

The limits and restrictions in this guide apply to aquatic life caught in the public waters of Texas out to 9 nautical miles in the Gulf of Mexico, and to aquatic life caught between 9 and 200 nautical miles in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and possessed in state waters or landed in this state. Federal law also regulates species between 9 and 200 nautical miles managed under a Federal Fishery Management Plan. See Importation of Wildlife Resources

Fishing on state-sponsored offshore artificial reefs is subject to the same regulations as other offshore locations.

It is unlawful to posses aquatic life in Texas waters that was illegally taken in federal waters.