AUSTIN – Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Inland Fisheries management staff are considering changes to freshwater fishing regulations at water bodies located in Cooke, Tom Green, Grayson, and Williamson counties for 2020-21. Staff previewed the potential changes to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission at their meeting this week in Austin.
At Moss Lake near Gainesville in Cooke County, staff are considering modifying the 14-inch minimum length limit for largemouth bass to a 16-inch maximum length limit to encourage the harvest of smaller fish. This change would aim to reduce competition for forage and habitat and improve the growth potential of largemouth bass in the lake. Additionally, this change would reduce confusion for anglers with identification of spotted versus largemouth bass in the lake.
At Lake Nasworthy near San Angelo in Tom Green County, staff are considering modifying harvest regulations for crappie by removing the current 10-inch minimum length limit. The change would allow anglers to harvest some of the abundant crappie smaller than 10 inches with the aim of helping to restructure the crappie population in the reservoir, where fish are currently found to have below-average growth and many die of natural mortality prior to reaching 10 inches in length.
At Lake Texoma and the Texas waters of the Red River below the Denison Dam, staff are considering modifying harvest regulations for blue, channel, and flathead catfish to standardize the regulations for these species on both sides of the reservoir and the river. For blue and channel catfish, the potential changes would specify no minimum length limit, a 15-fish daily bag limit, and anglers could harvest only one blue catfish 30 inches or greater. For flathead catfish, the change would specify no minimum length limit and a five-fish daily bag limit. In addition to standardizing regulations with Oklahoma and making harvest limits less complicated for catfish anglers, the potential changes could increase protection of larger blue catfish on the Texas side of the river.
At Brushy Creek Lake near Cedar Park in Williamson County, staff are considering modifying harvest regulations by changing to the statewide 14-inch limit for largemouth bass. On the section of Brushy Creek downstream from the lake to the Williamson/Milam County line (approximately 50 miles), staff are considering the following changes: for blue and channel catfish, reducing the daily bag limit to five fish per day and removing the minimum length limit; and implementing a pole-and-line only, two rod maximum gear restriction to reduce the potential overharvest of fish caught by other means. Standardizing the catfish limits and legal gear requirements would result in anglers fishing under the same regulations for the reservoir and the creek downstream.
In January, Inland Fisheries staff will present these possible changes to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission. If the Commission approves, the proposed changes will be published in the Texas Register, which begins the process of official public comment. Prior to that, anglers wishing to comment on the potential changes can direct them to Ken Kurzawski, TPWD Inland Fisheries Director of Information and Regulations, by email at [email protected] or phone at 512-389-4591.