Texas Sport Fishing Rules You Need to Know

Looking to do some sport fishing in Texas? Here are the rules you need to know in order to stay within the law.

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General Fishing Rules

In order to fish in the state of Texas, there are certain general fishing rules you need to follow. These rules include obtaining a fishing license, being aware of size and bag limits, and knowing where you can and cannot fish. Familiarize yourself with these rules before heading out on your next fishing trip.

License requirements

To fish in Texas, all anglers 16 and older must have a valid Texas fishing license. You can purchase a license online at the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department website, or from a TPWD-approved vendor. The cost of a license varies depending on the type of license and how long it is valid, but annual licenses start at $30 for residents.

There are also a number of free fishing days each year when anyone can fish without a license, and some exemptions for anglers with certain disabilities. For more information on licensing requirements and exemptions, visit the TPWD website or call 512-389-8900.

Size and bag limits

To help ensure the long-term health of Texas’ fish populations, TPWD has regulations in place for anglers. These regulations are designed to limit the number and size of fish an angler can take home in a single day. The term “bag limit” refers to the maximum number of a certain species of fish that an angler can keep in their possession at any one time. The term “size limit” refers to the minimum and maximum length, in inches, that a fish must be in order to legal for harvest.

The size and bag limits for popular sportfish in Texas can be found below:

Alligator gar: no size limit, 1 per day
Alligators: no size limit, 1 per day (ornings only)
Red drums (redfish): 18-27 inches, 5 per day
Spotted seatrout: 15-20 inches, 4 per day
Largemouth bass: 14-24 inches, 5 per day
Smallmouth bass: 14-24 inches, 5 per day
Guadalupe bass: 14-24 inches, 5 per day

Gear restrictions

All anglers must use only artificial lures and flies when fishing from a boat or from the shore in waters designated as flies and lures only. This regulation is in effect to provide additional opportunity for catch-and- release fishing for trout, red drum andflounder, and to protect these fish populations during periods of spawning and high natural mortality.

In addition to the statewide requirements, certain water bodies have additional gear restrictions in place. For example, on Medina Lake all anglers are required to use artificial lures with barbless hooks when fishing from a boat or from the shore.

barbless hooks may be used when fishing with natural bait
When using natural bait, you may not use more than two poles per person unless you purchase a permit authorizing the use of more poles. You also may not use more than 50 hooks total If you choose to fish with natural bait, your hooks must be barbless unless you are using live shrimp, live crab or live frog as bait

Specific Fish Species

Before wetting a line in Texas waters, anglers must have a valid fishing license issued by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The type of license an angler needs depends on a number of factors such as residency, age, and fishing location…

Alligator gar

Alligator gar are found in sluggish rivers and bayous from the Gulf of Mexico to the Illinois River. They prefer an environment with little or no current and lots of places to hide such as submerged logs or vegetation. Alligator gar can live in both saltwater and freshwater and have been known to travel between the two.

Alligator gar are one of the largest freshwater fish in North America. They can grow to be over 10 feet long and weigh up to 300 pounds. Alligator gar get their name from their long snouts that look like alligators. They have a greenish-gray color on their back with a white belly. Their scales are large and hard, similar to those of an alligator.

Alligator gar are not aggressive towards humans but they have been known to attack boats. It is best to avoid them if possible. If you must handle one, use extreme caution as their teeth are razor sharp.

Fish the Spawn | Spring Seasonal Species

American eel

American eels are an important part of the aquatic food web. They are a long-lived species that can travel great distances between freshwater habitats and their spawning grounds in the Sargasso Sea.

The American eel has a slender, snake-like body with a small, terminal mouth. The average size of an adult is 2-3 feet (0.6-0.9 m), but they can reach up to 4.5 feet (1.4 m). The body coloration is yellowish to olive green on the back, grading to white or cream on the belly. The underside of the tail is typically orange or yellow. The fins are small and well-hidden along the body; the dorsal (back) fin is located just behind the head, and the anal (bottom) fin is located just before the tail.

American eels are found throughout Texas in freshwater rivers, streams, lakes, and bayous. Young eels (known as “elvers”) migrate into freshwaters from estuaries and coastal waters during spring and summer months. Adult eels migrate upstream to breeding areas in late fall and winter months. After breeding, adult eels die and their remains sink to the bottom of the ocean where they provide an important source of nutrients for deep-water ecosystems.

Atlantic croaker

The atlantic croaker (Micropogonias undulatus) is a species of marine ray-finned fish, a drum in the family Sciaenidae. It occurs in the western Atlantic Ocean from Cape Cod to northern Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. This bottom dwelling fish is an important recreational and commercial species which supports both fisheries. It is known by a variety of regional names including common croaker, hardhead, grunter, jewfish, mingo and marbled grunt. The head and body are deep and compressed with the anal fin having two distinct lobes with 8-9 rays in the anterior lobe and 7-8 rays in posterior lobe while the pectoral fins have 16-17 rays each. it has 25 to 27 dark vertical bars on sides which become less conspicuous as they approach belly. Adults have 11 to 13 gill rakers on their first arch. The maximum recorded length of this species is 63 centimeters (25 inches) but they more typically grow to around half this length. The common weight range is 0.5 to 2 kg (1–4 lb).

Seasons and closures

All fish have an open season, meaning that there are certain times of the year when it is legal to fish for them. Some fish have more than one open season, while others have only one. The time period for an open season varies from fish to fish. For example, the open season for blue catfish in most of Texas is from June 1-August 31. Closures are the complete opposite of an open season.

General fishing seasons

Closures and seasons are subject to change. For the most current information, please check with TPWD (Texas Parks and Wildlife Department).

In Texas, most sport fishing species are divided into two categories: inland and saltwater. The difference between the two is based on the type of water in which they live. Inland waters are those located entirely within the boundaries of Texas, while saltwater includes all other waters, whether they’re along the coast or not.

In general, inland fishing seasons run from late spring through early fall, while saltwater seasons are year-round. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For instance, red snapper season in federal waters (3-200 miles offshore) is currently open year-round, but it is subject to closure at any time if the quota is met.

In addition to season dates, there are also daily bag and possession limits that apply to most sport fish species in Texas. These limits vary depending on the type of fish, as well as the location where you’re fishing. For example, the daily bag limit for largemouth bass is five fish per person in most parts of Texas, but it’s only two fish per person in some counties along the Gulf Coast.

Finally, please be aware that there are many bodies of water in Texas that have their own special regulations that may differ from the statewide rules. These include lakes stocking trout by TPWD (usually between November 1 and April 30), as well as certain river segments managed by TPWD for fly-fishing only. When in doubt, always check with TPWD or the local game warden before you start fishing.

Closures for specific fish species

Depending on the fish species, different parts of Texas may have different rules regarding seasons and closures. For example, the red drum season currently closes in the western Gulf from January 1-March 31.

Here are some other examples of fish species with specific closure dates:
Alligator Gar – May 1-June 30
Scythe Butterflyfish – June 1-July 31
Nassau Grouper – July 1-August 31
Red Snapper (in federal waters) – June 1-August 31
Amberjack – September 1-November 30
Blue Marlin – June 1-July 31
Swordfish (in federal waters) – February 1-March 31
Each of these fish have different seasons in different parts of Texas. Make sure to check the rules for the specific area you plan on fishing in.

Fishing in state parks

Anyone who has ever been fishing knows there are certain rules and regulations that must be followed. The same goes for fishing in Texas state parks. There are certain rules in place to help preserve the fish population and keep everyone safe. In this article, we will go over some of the main rules you need to know before fishing in a Texas state park.

License requirements

If you’re 16 years old or older, you must have a fishing license to fish in Texas. If you’re under 16, you do not need a license, but you are limited to five fish per day. You can purchase a license online or at any location that sells hunting and fishing licenses. You will need to provide your personal information and payment information. A valid driver’s license or state-issued ID is required to purchase a license.

Residents of Texas who are 65 years of age or older, or who are born before September 1, 1930, may purchase a Resident Senior Combined Hunting and Fishing License for $22. If you have a valid Texas driver’s license or ID card, you can buy this license online. Non-residents who are 65 years of age or older may purchase a Non-resident 5-day Combined Hunting and Fishing License for $48. A non-resident 1-day Combined Hunting and Fishing License is also available for $16.

Military personnel stationed in Texas who claiming residency can purchase a Resident Military Hunting and Fishing License for $15. Active duty military personnel not claiming residency can purchase a Non-resident Military Hunting and Fishing License for $20. These licenses can be purchased online or at any location that sells hunting and fishing licenses with proof of military ID.

Size and bag limits

Each fish species has a maximum length and bag limit. The bag limit is the number of fish of a single species or a combination of species that an angler may legally keep in his or her possession. The maximum length is the longest that a fish may be, from tip of snout to tip of tail fin, and still be legal to keep. Only one fish longer than the maximum length limit may be kept, regardless of whether it is within the bag limit for that species.

The following general size and bag limits apply to all inland waters of Texas unless otherwise specified:

All Fish – No more than 5 aggregate inches in total length; no more than 2 fish longer than 34 inches in total length. Snail Kite – 1 daily bag limit; no size limit

Inland waters are defined as all waters wholly or partially contained within the boundaries of Texas, including tidal waters but excluding federal public waters such as Red River, Sabine River, and their oxbow lakes. Only one line may be used when fishing for any combination of species except when targeting alligator gar, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, striped bass or white bass in which case anglers are allowed to use two poles.

Gear restrictions

You may use any legal gear to fish in state parks, with the exception of commercial fishing gear. All gear must be attended at all times, and you may not place gear in such a way that it obstructs the free passage of other anglers or park visitors. You may not use live fish as bait, and you may not bring live fish into a state park, with the exception of bait used in a possessing trap or similar device from which bait cannot escape.

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