AUSTIN – Changes to length and bag limits for blue and channel catfish statewide and at specific locations highlight this year’s list of proposed freshwater fishing regulation changes. The proposed changes also include minor modifications to passive gear float dimensions.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is taking public comment on the following proposed changes to the 2021-2022 Statewide Recreational and Commercial Fishing Proclamation, with input to be considered before any action by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission at its March 25 public hearing.
“A team of TPWD fisheries biologists have worked for the past two years to review our current catfish regulations with the goals of continuing to provide good angling, meeting current angler needs, and reducing the number of regulation categories,” said Craig Bonds, TPWD’s Inland Fisheries Division Director. “These proposed regulations address what we have heard from anglers about their fishing motivations and can be appropriately used across the diversity of our state’s waters.”
The current statewide regulations for blue and channel catfish consist of a 12-inch minimum length limit and a 25-fish daily bag limit that combines both species. The proposed changes would remove the minimum length limit (fish of any length could be harvested) and retain the 25-fish daily bag. However, of the 25 blue or channel catfish that could be harvested per day, anglers would be limited to harvesting no more than 10 fish that measure 20 inches or longer.
Two new exceptions to the statewide regulations for blue and channel catfish are being proposed. The first category would follow the no minimum length limit and 25-fish daily bag limit for blue and channel catfish from the proposed statewide regulations but would further limit the number of fish 20 inches or larger that could be harvested per day to five and further limit the number of fish 30 inches or larger that could be harvested to one. A total of 12 locations are proposed for this category. Following are the locations and their current regulations.
- Six locations that are currently under statewide regulations: Lakes Belton (Bell and Coryell counties), Bob Sandlin (Camp, Franklin, and Titus counties), Conroe (Montgomery and Walker counties), Hubbard Creek (Stephens County), Lavon (Collin County), and Ray Hubbard (Collin, Dallas, Kaufman, and Rockwall counties).
- Three locations currently under a 30- to 45-inch slot length limit: Lewisville (Denton County), Richland-Chambers (Freestone and Navarro counties), and Waco (McClennan County).
- Two locations currently under no minimum length limit but with harvest limits of five fish that measure 20 inches or longer: Kirby (Taylor County) and Palestine (Cherokee, Anderson, Henderson, and Smith counties).
- Lake Tawakoni (Hunt, Rains, and Van Zandt counties) currently is under similar regulations: no minimum but with harvest limits of seven over 20 inches and two over 30 inches.
The final new exemption category proposed is a 14-inch minimum length limit and a 15-fish combined daily bag for blue and channel catfish. Locations proposed for this category, which are currently under statewide regulations, are:
- Lakes Braunig (Bexar County), Calaveras (Bexar County), Choke Canyon (Live Oak and McMullen counties), Fayette County (Fayette County), and Proctor (Comanche County).
Additionally, two reservoirs will be added to an existing blue and channel catfish regulation category: no minimum length limit and a 50-fish bag limit with the additional restriction that no more than five fish of 30 inches or larger could be harvested per day. Those reservoirs are Lake Livingston (Polk, San Jacinto, Trinity, and Walker counties), which has a 12-inch minimum length limit and 50-fish daily bag limit, and Lake Sam Rayburn (Jasper County), which is currently under statewide regulations.
These two reservoirs, Lake Livingston and Lake Sam Rayburn and these reservoirs, Lakes Caddo (Harrison and Marion counties) and Toledo Bend (Newton Sabine, and Shelby counties), and the Sabine River (Newton and Orange counties), which are currently in the above regulation category, will also be added to the regulations for commercial harvest.
Current statewide length and bag limits for commercial harvest will remain at 14 inches and 25 fish [both species combined], and a five-fish bag limit will apply on all community fishing lakes and lying totally within a state park.
Changes are also proposed to standardize the descriptions for float dimensions for some passive gears as length and width rather than height and diameter. Also, inadvertently, the width of the float for minnow traps was listed as 6 inches, and it should be 3 inches.
Opportunities to provide comments for or against these proposals include:
Online: At TPWD public comment page until March 24.
Phone or Email: Comments on the proposed changes may be submitted to Ken Kurzawski at (512) 389-4591, email: email@example.com.
Online Webinar: TPWD staff will present proposed fishing regulation changes and answer questions in an online webinar at 7:00 p.m. Mar. 4. 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 25 in Austin. Public testimony will normally be limited to three minutes per person.