Changes Proposed to Fishing, Hunting Regulation

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is now accepting public comment on proposed changes to fishing and hunting regulations for 2019-2020.

The public can comment on the proposed changes (see below) through 8 a.m. March 20. (Click here to access the public comment page.)

TPWD staff also will present the proposed regulation changes and answer questions on two Facebook Live webinars the last week of February.

The fishing regulation change webinar will be held at noon Feb. 27, and the hunting regulation change webinar will be held at noon Feb. 28, on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Facebook page.

The proposed changes include:

Freshwater Fishing:

The proposed changes include modifications to the length limits and harvest regulations for largemouth bass, Alabama bass, and alligator gar in certain areas.

The proposed changes to alligator gar regulations also include a statewide nighttime prohibition on bow fishing, mandatory harvest reporting statewide except for Falcon Lake, and the creation of a drawing for harvest opportunity on the Trinity River.

  • Lake Conroe: Change current regulations for largemouth bass from a 16-inch minimum length limit and 5-fish daily bag limit to a 14-inch minimum length limit and 5-fish daily bag limit.
  • Lake Lakewood: Implement an 18-inch minimum length limit and three-fish daily bag for largemouth bass.
  • Mill Creek Lake: Change from a 14- to 21-inch slot length limit and five fish daily bag limit for largemouth bass to a 16-inch maximum length limit and five-fish daily bag with an exception allowing for possession and weighing for bass 24 inches or greater for possible submission to ShareLunker program.
  • Southeast Texas: Expand the area in Southeast Texas currently covered by the 12-inch minimum length limit for largemouth bass to include Hardin County, Newton County (excluding Toledo Bend Reservoir), and Liberty County south of U.S. Highway 90.
  • Alan Henry Reservoir: Modify the harvest regulations for largemouth and Alabama bass by removing Alabama bass from the current regulation (five-fish daily bag of which only two bass less than 18 inches may be harvested). Alabama bass would revert to the statewide limits (no length limit and five-fish daily bag in combination with largemouth bass).
  • Trinity River: Enact a 48-inch maximum length limit for alligator gar on the Trinity River from the I-30 bridge in Dallas downstream to the I-10 bridge in Chambers County, including the East Fork of the Trinity River upstream to the dam at Lake Ray Hubbard.
  • Trinity River: A drawing will be implemented to allow selected anglers to harvest one alligator gar over 48 inches in length per year from the Trinity River. The limited entry system would allow non-transferable to harvest authorization for a set number of alligator gar. Authorizations would be selected and distributed through a random draw of interested applicants.
  • Statewide: Between one half-hour after sunset and one half-hour before sunrise, no person may take or possess an alligator gar by means of lawful archery equipment or crossbow.
  • Statewide: All persons who take an alligator gar from the public fresh waters of the state other than Falcon International Reservoir would be required to report the harvest via the department’s website or by mobile app within 24 hours of take.

Saltwater Fishing:

The proposed changes are intended to streamline regulations for the entire Texas coast for spotted seatrout and modified regulations for certain species to be in line with federal rules to reduce confusion among anglers for sharks and cobia.

  • Extending the 5 fish bag limit for spotted seatrout to the upper coast, creating a coast-wide 5 fish bag limit.
  • Requiring the use of non-offset, non-stainless steel circle hooks when fishing for sharks in state waters, except when fishing with artificial lures.
  • Increasing the minimum size limit to 40 inches in total length for Cobia.
    Closing oyster restoration areas in Galveston Bay, Matagorda Bay and Copano Bay for 2 harvest seasons.

The proposed changes include implementation and expansion of white-tailed deer “doe days,” an experimental mule deer antler restriction in Lynn County, a clarification on turkey harvest requirements, and season dates and bag limits for migratory game birds.

  • Refusal of program participation in Managed Lands Deer Programs (MLDP) for non-compliant properties in areas where chronic wasting disease (CWD) testing is required for all harvested deer.
  • A four-day antlerless deer season in 21 counties in south central Texas. Counties being considered include Austin, Bastrop, Caldwell, Colorado, Dewitt, Fayette, Gonzales, Guadalupe, Karnes, Lavaca, Lee, Waller, Washington, and Wilson. In addition to these counties, Goliad, Jackson, Victoria, and Wharton counties north of U.S. Highway 59 and Comal, Hays, and Travis east of IH-35 would also be included.
  • Expansion of “doe days” in 20 counties from four to 16 days. Counties being considered include Bell (east of IH 35), Burleson, Delta, Ellis, Falls, Fannin, Franklin, Freestone, Hopkins, Hunt, Kaufman, Limestone, Milam, Navarro, Rains, Smith, Titus, Van Zandt, Williamson (east of IH 35), and Wood.
  • An experimental 20-inch minimum antler spread restriction regulation in Lynn County.
  • A new season for javelina in six counties in the South Plains, to include Borden, Dawson, Gaines, Hardeman, Scurry, and Terry counties.
  • Clarification that proof of sex is required for turkeys taken during seasons when the bag limit is gobblers only or gobblers and bearded hens (i.e., not either sex), and that it can remain attached to the harvested bird or accompany the harvested bird.
  • Establish seasons and bag limits for migratory game birds for 2019-2020.


Bianca R. Montes

Bianca Montes is an award-winning journalist and former Managing Editor of Park Cities People. She currently serves as a Senior Editor with D Magazine's D CEO publication. You can reach her by email at [email protected] or follow her on Instagram @Bianca_TBD. For the latest news, click here to sign up for our newsletter.

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