TITLE 31. NATURAL RESOURCES AND CONSERVATION

PART 2. TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT

CHAPTER 57. FISHERIES

SUBCHAPTER N. STATEWIDE RECREATIONAL AND COMMERCIAL FISHING PROCLAMATION

DIVISION 1. GENERAL PROVISIONS

31 TAC §57.971, §57.973

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, in a duly noticed meeting on November 7, 2019, adopted amendments to §57.971, concerning Definitions, and §57.973, concerning Devices, Means, and Methods, with changes to the proposed text as published in the September 27, 2019, issue of the Texas Register(44 TexReg 5599). These rules will be republished.

The change to §57.971, paragraph 23 replaces the phrase "name, address, and customer number" with "name and address, or customer number" to reflect that a person deploying a gear tag may indicate either that person's name and address or the person's customer number (i.e., license number) on the gear tag.

The change to §57.973 establishes a six-day period of validity for properly executed gear tags on juglines, minnow traps, perch traps, throwlines, and trotlines. The current rule allows these gears to be deployed for up to 10 days before the gear tags are required to be replaced. As proposed, the time period would have been four days. During deliberations, the commission decided to adopt a six-day period and assess its effectiveness. The change also corrects an inadvertent transposition of terms in subsection (f), which currently reads, in part, "...as provided by the Parks and Wildlife Commission and regulations adopted by the Parks and Wildlife Code." The statement should read "...as provided by the Parks and Wildlife Code and regulations adopted by the Parks and Wildlife Commission."

The amendments as adopted alter definitions and gear tag requirements for jug lines, minnow traps, perch traps, throwlines, and trotlines to facilitate the removal of abandoned fishing gear from public waters and to reduce the waste of fish and wildlife resources.

The amendment to §57.971 alters the definitions for juglines, minnow traps, perch traps, throwlines, and trotlines by stipulating that each type of gear must have the required floats and tags attached in order to be valid as lawful gear. The changes are necessary in order to distinguish bona fide fishing gear from abandoned fishing gear and litter.

The amendment to §57.973, concerning Devices, Means, and Methods, reduces the period of validity for a gear tag from 10 days to six days. Under current rules, gear tags are required to be affixed to most fishing devices that are typically left unattended, such as trotlines. The department has determined that because such devices continue to kill fish and represent a danger to birds and mammals when they are abandoned, it is necessary to require a gear tag to be employed when they are used. Under Parks and Wildlife Code, §12.1105, the department is authorized to seize a device that is in or on water in violation of a regulation of the commission. By defining juglines, minnow traps, perch traps, throwlines, and trotlines as devices that must be affixed with a valid gear tag and float in order to be lawfully used, the department will be able to seize and remove unmarked devices, thereby preventing abandoned devices from continuing to negatively impact fish and wildlife populations. Removal of such devices will also assist the department in determining actual levels of fishing effort for various devices and will have the additional benefit of reducing threats to human health and safety.

By establishing a period of validity for gear tags of six days, the department intends to encourage a proactive approach to the use of passive fishing gears. Scientific investigations conducted by the department conclusively show that the majority of mortalities as a result of "ghost fishing" (the continuing effect of unattended passive gears) occur after four days.

The department received 41 comments opposing adoption of the rules as proposed. Of the 41 comments, 40 provided a reason or rationale for opposing adoption. Those comments, accompanied by the department's response to each, follow.

Nine commenters opposed adoption and stated that requiring gears to be accompanied by visible markings would just make it easier for unscrupulous persons to steal fish and gear from law-abiding anglers. The department disagrees with the comments and responds that although there are persons who make the conscious decision to violate the law, marked fishing gear is also easier to identify and observe, and makes the gear more difficult to be disturbed or possessed by malefactors. No changes were made a result of the comments.

Five commenters opposed adoption and stated that requiring anglers to record their name, address, and customer number is redundant. The department agrees and responds that the intent of the rule was to require one or the other, which has been remedied.

Three commenters opposed adoption and stated that the rules are unnecessary because people will abandon gear no matter what the rules require. The department disagrees with the comments and responds that the intent of the rules is to reduce negative impact to fisheries from abandoned gear and allow for abandoned gear to be seized as litter. No changes were made as a result of the comments.

Two commenters opposed adoption and stated that the rules should stay as is but the department should increase enforcement activity. The department disagrees with the comment and responds that enforcement personnel diligently enforce the law and will continue to do so and that equipping gear with floats will increase the efficiency of enforcement efforts. No changes were made as a result of the comments.

Two commenters opposed adoption and stated that instead of regulatory actions, there should be community action, such as lake cleanups. The department disagrees with the comment and responds that although community action is certainly laudable, volunteer assistance cannot be relied upon to be applied in the numerous areas statewide where these activities occur, and volunteers are constrained by statutory authority that does not allow them to remove illegal fishing gears. No changes were made as a result of the comments.

Two commenters opposed adoption and stated that the rules are evidence of department bias against means and methods other than rod and reel. The department disagrees with the comments and responds that the department does not favor any particular method of legal take over any other method of legal take and that passive gear by its very nature requires a regulatory approach that is different from gears such as pole and line that are continuously tended while in use. No changes were made as a result of the comments.

Two commenters opposed adoption and stated that anglers should be allowed to inscribe noodles and jugs with identifying information instead of having to provide a separate gear tag. The department agrees with the comment and responds that as long as the required information is somewhere on the gear, the department regards the device as being properly marked. No changes were made as a result of the comments.

One commenter opposed adoption and stated that the rules will make it harder to go fishing. The department disagrees with the comment and responds that gear tag requirements will not impose any significant burden on persons who want to go fishing. No changes were made as a result of the comment.

One commenter opposed adoption and stated that the rules make compliance impossible for elderly persons who cannot get out as often as younger people. The department disagrees with the comment and responds that equipping gears with floats and replacing gear tags once every six days instead of once every ten days does not appear to be a significant barrier to participation. No changes were made as a result of the comment.

One commenter opposed adoption and stated that gear-tag period of validity should be 48 hours. The department disagrees with the comment and responds that the commission after deliberation determined that a six-day period, at least for an initial period, was worth implementing in order to assess effectiveness. No changes were made as a result of the comment.

One commenter opposed adoption and stated that gear-tag period of validity should be 24 hours. The department disagrees with the comment and responds that the commission after deliberation determined that a six-day period, at least for an initial period, was worth implementing in order to assess effectiveness. No changes were made as a result of the comment.

One commenter opposed adoption and stated that the department should limit the number of passive devices that can be deployed on any given water body because they constitute a boating safety hazard. The department disagrees with the comment and responds that the logistical complications associated with administering and enforcing a quota system for passive gears on public water bodies would be burdensome and expensive. No changes were made as a result of the comment.

One commenter opposed adoption and stated that a float should be required for each end of a trotline. The department agrees with the comment and responds that the rules require each end of a trotline to be equipped with a float. No changes were made as a result of the comment.

One commenter opposed adoption and stated that a float should be required for limblines. The department agrees with the comment and responds that the rules require a float to be attached to a limbline, which is actually a type of throwline. No changes were made as a result of the comment.

One commenter opposed adoption and stated that the rules would make it difficult to fish legally. The department disagrees with the comment and responds that requiring certain devices to be equipped with floats and reducing the period of validity of gear tags will not result in any significant barrier to participation. No changes were made as a result of the comment.

One commenter opposed adoption and stated that the rules would create hardships for anglers and campers who like to fish for a week at a time. The department disagrees with the comment and responds that requiring certain devices to be equipped with floats and reducing the period of validity of gear tags will not result in any significant barrier to participation, irrespective of the amount of time devoted to the regulated activity. No changes were made as a result of the comment.

One commenter opposed adoption and stated that the rules would encourage people to violate. The department disagrees with the comment and responds that a person who consciously decides to violate the law is a violator who runs the risk of being detected, cited, convicted, and punished. No changes were made as a result of the comment.

One commenter opposed adoption and stated that the department should not promulgate new rules when it does not enforce the current rules. The department disagrees with the comment and responds that enforcement personnel diligently enforce the law and will continue to do so. No changes were made as a result of the comment.

One commenter opposed adoption and stated that the proposed four-day period of validity for gear tags is inconvenient for people who live a long way away from where they fish. The department disagrees with the comment and responds that the rules are not and should not be predicated on the distance an angler must travel to engage in a regulated activity; however, the rule as adopted establishes a six-day period of validity. No changes were made as a result of the comment.

One commenter opposed adoption and stated that the dimensions of the gear tag are too large and that stamped metal gear tags should be lawful. The department disagrees with the comment and responds that the rules do not prescribe the physical dimensions of gear tags and that stamped metal gear tags are lawful, provided they bear the required information. No changes were made as a result of the comment.

One commenter opposed adoption and stated that the rules will just result in more trash. The department disagrees with the comment and responds that the rules will allow the department to more quickly identify and remove abandoned gear, thus reducing litter. No changes were made as a result of the comment.

One commenter opposed adoption and stated that the rules should define the term "free-floating." The department disagrees with the comment and responds that the plain and ordinary meaning of the phrase is sufficient to convey what needs to be understood by the term. No changes were made as a result of the comment.

One commenter opposed adoption and stated that the gear tag validity period should be between five and seven days. The department agrees with the comment and has made changes accordingly.

The amendments are adopted under the authority of Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 61, which requires the commission to regulate the periods of time when it is lawful to hunt, take, or possess aquatic animal life in this state; the means, methods, and places in which it is lawful to take, or possess aquatic animal life in this state; the species, quantity, age or size, and, to the extent possible, the sex of the aquatic animal life authorized to be taken or possessed; and the region, county, area, body of water, or portion of a county where aquatic animal life may be taken or possessed.

§57.971.Definitions.

The following words and terms, when used in this subchapter, shall have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise. All other words and terms in this subchapter shall have the meanings assigned in the Texas Parks and Wildlife Code.

(1) Annual bag limit--The quantity of a species of a wildlife resource that may be taken from September 1 of one year to August 31 of the following year.

(2) Artificial lure--Any lure (including flies) with hook or hooks attached that is man-made and is used as a bait while fishing.

(3) Bait--Something used to lure any aquatic wildlife resource.

(4) Cast net--A net which can be hand-thrown over an area.

(5) Charter Vessel--A vessel less than 100 gross tons that meets the requirements of the U.S. Coast Guard to carry six or fewer passengers for hire and that carries a passenger for hire at any time during the calendar year. A charter vessel with a commercial permit is considered to be operating as a charter vessel when it carries a passenger who pays a fee or when there are more than three persons aboard, including operator and crew.

(6) Circle hook--A hook originally designed and manufactured so that the point of the hook is turned perpendicularly back toward the shank of the hook to form a generally circular or oval shape.

(7) Coastal waters boundary--All public waters east and south of the following boundary are considered saltwater: Beginning at the International Toll Bridge in Brownsville, thence northward along U.S. Highway 77 to the junction of Paredes Lines Road (F.M. Road 1847) in Brownsville, thence northward along F.M. Road 1847 to the junction of F.M. Road 106 east of Rio Hondo, thence westward along F.M. Road 106 to the junction of F.M. Road 508 in Rio Hondo, thence northward along F.M. Road 508 to the junction of F.M. Road 1420, thence northward along F.M. Road 1420 to the junction of State Highway 186 east of Raymondville, thence westward along State Highway 186 to the junction of U.S. Highway 77 near Raymondville, thence northward along U.S. Highway 77 to the junction of the Aransas River south of Woodsboro, thence eastward along the south shore of the Aransas River to the junction of the Aransas River Road at the Bonnie View boat ramp; thence northward along the Aransas River Road to the junction of F.M. Road 629; thence northward along F.M. Road 629 to the junction of F.M. Road 136; thence eastward along F.M. Road 136 to the junction of F.M. Road 2678; then northward along F.M. Road 2678 to the junction of F.M. Road 774 in Refugio, thence eastward along F.M. Road 774 to the junction of State Highway 35 south of Tivoli, thence northward along State Highway 35 to the junction of State Highway 185 between Bloomington and Seadrift, thence northwestward along State Highway 185 to the junction of F.M. Road 616 in Bloomington, thence northeastward along F.M. Road 616 to the junction of State Highway 35 east of Blessing, thence southward along State Highway 35 to the junction of F.M. Road 521 north of Palacios, thence northeastward along F.M. Road 521 to the junction of State Highway 36 south of Brazoria, thence southward along State Highway 36 to the junction of F.M. Road 2004, thence northward along F.M. Road 2004 to the junction of Interstate Highway 45 between Dickinson and La Marque, thence northwestward along Interstate Highway 45 to the junction of Interstate Highway 610 in Houston, thence east and northward along Interstate Highway 610 to the junction of Interstate Highway 10 in Houston, thence eastward along Interstate Highway 10 to the junction of State Highway 73 in Winnie, thence eastward along State Highway 73 to the junction of U.S. Highway 287 in Port Arthur, thence northwestward along U.S. Highway 287 to the junction of Interstate Highway 10 in Beaumont, thence eastward along Interstate Highway 10 to the Louisiana State Line. The waters of Spindletop Bayou inland from the concrete dam at Russels Landing on Spindletop Bayou in Jefferson County; public waters north of the dam on Lake Anahuac in Chambers County; the waters of Taylor Bayou and Big Hill Bayou inland from the saltwater locks on Taylor Bayou in Jefferson County; Lakeview City Park Lake, West Guth Park Pond, and Waldron Park Pond in Nueces County; Galveston County Reservoir and Galveston State Park ponds #1-7 in Galveston County; Lake Burke-Crenshaw and Lake Nassau in Harris County; Fort Brown Resaca, Resaca de la Guerra, Resaca de la Palma, Resaca de los Cuates, Resaca de los Fresnos, Resaca Rancho Viejo, and Town Resaca in Cameron County; and Little Chocolate Bayou Park Ponds #1 and #2 in Calhoun County are not considered coastal waters for purposes of this subchapter.

(8) Community fishing lake--All public impoundments 75 acres or smaller located totally within an incorporated city limits or a public park, and all impoundments of any size lying totally within the boundaries of a state park.

(9) Crab--All species within the families Portunidae and Menippidae.

(10) Crab line--A baited line with no hook attached.

(11) Daily bag limit--The quantity of a species of a wildlife resource that may be lawfully taken in one day.

(12) Day--A 24-hour period of time that begins at midnight and ends at midnight.

(13) Dip net--A mesh bag suspended from a frame attached to a handle.

(14) Final processing--The cleaning of a dead wildlife resource for cooking or storage purposes.

(15) Fish--

(A) Game fish--Alabama bass, blue catfish, blue marlin, broadbill swordfish, brown trout, channel catfish, cobia, crappie (black and white), flathead catfish, Guadalupe bass, king mackerel, largemouth bass, longbill spearfish, pickerel, red drum, rainbow trout, sailfish, sauger, sharks, smallmouth bass, snook, Spanish mackerel, spotted bass, spotted seatrout, striped bass, tarpon, tripletail, wahoo, walleye, white bass, white marlin, yellow bass, and hybrids or subspecies of the species listed in this subparagraph.

(B) Non-game fish--All species not listed as game fish, except endangered and threatened fish, which are defined and regulated under separate proclamations.

(16) Fishing--Taking or attempting to take aquatic animal life by any means.

(17) Fish length--That straight-line measurement (while the fish is lying on its side) from the tip of the snout (jaw closed) to the extreme tip of the tail when the tail is squeezed together or rotated to produce the maximum overall length.

(18) Fish species names--The names of fishes are those prescribed by the American Fisheries Society in the most recent edition of "Common and Scientific Names of Fishes from The United States, Canada and Mexico."

(19) Fishing guide--A person who, for compensation, accompanies, assists, or transports a person or persons engaged in fishing in the water of this state.

(20) Fishing guide deck hand--A person in the employ of a fishing guide who assists in operating a boat for compensation to accompany or to transport a person or persons engaged in fishing in the water of this state.

(21) Folding panel trap--A metallic or non-metallic mesh trap, the side panels hinged to fold flat when not in use, and suspended in the water by multiple lines.

(22) Gaff--Any hand-held pole with a hook attached directly to the pole.

(23) Gear tag--A tag constructed of material as durable as the device to which it is attached. The gear tag must be legible, contain the name and address, or customer number, of the person using the device, and, except for saltwater trotlines and crab traps fished under a commercial license, the date the device was set out.

(24) Gig--Any hand-held shaft with single or multiple points.

(25) Handfishing--Fishing by the use of hands only and without any other fishing devices such as gaff, pole hook, trap, stick, or spear.

(26) Headboat--A vessel that holds a valid Certificate of Inspection issued by the U.S. Coast Guard to carry passengers for hire. A headboat with a commercial vessel permit is considered to be operating as a headboat when it carries a passenger who pays a fee or, in the case of persons aboard fishing for or possessing coastal migratory fish or Gulf reef fish, when there are more than three persons aboard, including operator and crew.

(27) Inside waters--All bays, inlets, outlets, passes, rivers, streams, and other bodies of water landward from the shoreline of the state along the Gulf of Mexico and contiguous to, or connected with, but not a part of, the Gulf of Mexico and within which the tide regularly rises and falls.

(28) Jug line--A fishing line with five or less hooks and a gear tag tied to a free-floating device.

(29) Lawful archery equipment--Longbow, recurved bow, and compound bow.

(30) License year--The period of time for which an annual fishing license is valid.

(31) Natural bait--A whole or cut-up portion of a fish or shellfish or a whole or cut-up portion of plant material in its natural state, provided that none of these may be altered beyond cutting into portions.

(32) Paddle craft--Any non-motorized vessel.

(33) Paddle-craft fishing guide--A person who, for compensation, accompanies, assists, or transports a person or persons by means of a non-motorized vessel engaged in fishing in the coastal waters of this state.

(34) Pole and line--A line with hook, attached to a pole. This gear includes rod and reel.

(35) Possession limit--The maximum number of a wildlife resource that may be lawfully possessed at one time.

(36) Purse seine--A net with flotation on the corkline adequate to support the net in open water without touching bottom, with a rope or wire cable strung through rings attached along the bottom edge to close the bottom of the net.

(37) Residence--A permanent structure where a person regularly sleeps and keeps personal belongings such as furniture and clothes, but does not include a temporary abode or dwelling such as a hunting or fishing club, or any club house, cabin, tent, or trailer house or mobile home used as a hunting or fishing camp, or any hotel, motel, or rooming house used on a temporary basis.

(38) Sail line--A type of trotline with one end of the main line fixed on the shore, the other end of the main line attached to a wind-powered floating device or sail.

(39) Sand Pump--A self-contained, hand-held, hand-operated suction device used to remove and capture Callianassid ghost shrimp (Callichirus islagrande) from their burrows.

(40) Seine--A section of non-metallic mesh webbing, the top edge buoyed upwards by a floatline and the bottom edge weighted.

(41) Spear--Any shaft with single or multiple points, barbed or barbless, which may be propelled by any means, but does not; include arrows.

(42) Spear gun--Any hand-operated device designed and used for propelling a spear, but does not include the crossbow.

(43) Throwline--A fishing line with:

(A) five or less hooks;

(B) one end attached to a permanent fixture;

(C) a float attached at or above the water line; and

(D) a gear tag.

(44) Trap--A rigid device of various designs and dimensions used to entrap aquatic life, including a man-made device such as a box, barrel, or pipe.

(45) Trawl--A bag-shaped net which is dragged along the bottom or through the water to catch aquatic life.

(46) Trotline--A nonmetallic main fishing line with:

(A) more than five hooks;

(B) each end attached to a fixture;

(C) floats attached at or above the water line; and

(D) a gear tag.

(47) Umbrella net--A non-metallic mesh net that is suspended horizontally in the water by multiple lines attached to a rigid frame.

(48) Wildlife resources--For the purposes of this subchapter, all aquatic animal life.

§57.973.Devices, Means and Methods.

(a) In fresh water only, it is unlawful to fish with more than 100 hooks on all devices combined.

(b) Game and non-game fish may be taken only by pole and line in or on:

(1) community fishing lakes;

(2) sections of rivers lying totally within the boundaries of state parks;

(3) any dock, pier, jetty, or other manmade structure within a state park;

(4) Canyon Lake Project #6 (Lubbock County);

(5) Lake Pflugerville (Travis County);

(6) North Concho River (Tom Green County) from O.C. Fisher Dam to Bell Street Dam;

(7) South Concho River (Tom Green County) from Lone Wolf Dam to Bell Street Dam; and

(8) Wheeler Branch (Somervell County).

(c) No person may employ more than two pole-and-line devices at the same time on:

(1) any dock, pier, jetty, or other manmade structure within a state park;

(2) community fishing lakes that are not within or part of a state park;

(3) Canyon Lake Project #6 (Lubbock County);

(4) North Concho River (Tom Green County) from O. C. Fisher Dam to Bell Street Dam; and

(5) South Concho River (Tom Green County) from Lone Wolf Dam to Bell Street Dam.

(d) It is unlawful to take, attempt to take, or possess fish caught in public waters of this state by any device, means, or method other than as authorized in this subchapter.

(e) In salt water only, it is unlawful to fish with any device that is marked with a buoy made of a plastic bottle(s) of any color or size.

(f) Aquatic life (except threatened and endangered species) not addressed in this subchapter may be taken only by hand or with the devices defined as lawful for taking fish, crabs, oysters, or shrimp in places and at times as provided by the Parks and Wildlife Code and regulations adopted by the Parks and Wildlife Commission.

(g) Device restrictions. Devices legally used for taking fresh or saltwater fish or shrimp may be used to take crab as authorized by this subchapter.

(1) Cast net. It is unlawful to use a cast net exceeding 14 feet in diameter.

(A) Only non-game fish may be taken with a cast net.

(B) In salt water, non-game fish may be taken for bait purposes only.

(2) Crab line. It is unlawful to fish a crab line for commercial purposes that is not marked with a floating white buoy not less than six inches in height, six inches in length and six inches in width bearing the commercial crab fisherman's license plate number in letters of a contrasting color at least two inches high attached to the end fixtures.

(3) Crab trap. It is unlawful to:

(A) fish for commercial purposes under authority of a commercial crab fisherman's license with more than 200 crab traps at one time;

(B) fish for commercial purposes under authority of a commercial finfish fisherman's license with more than 20 crab traps at one time;

(C) fish for non-commercial purposes with more than six crab traps at one time;

(D) fish a crab trap in the fresh waters of this state;

(E) fish a crab trap that:

(i) exceeds 18 cubic feet in volume;

(ii) is not equipped with at least two escape vents (minimum 2-3/8 inches inside diameter) in each crab-retaining chamber, and located on the outside trap walls of each chamber; and

(iii) is not equipped with a degradable panel. A trap shall be considered to have a degradable panel if one of the following methods is used in construction of the trap:

(I) the trap lid tie-down strap is secured to the trap by a loop of untreated jute twine (comparable to Lehigh brand #530) or sisal twine (comparable to Lehigh brand #390). The trap lid must be secured so that when the twine degrades, the lid will no longer be securely closed; or

(II) the trap lid tie-down strap is secured to the trap by a loop of untreated steel wire with a diameter of no larger than 20 gauge. The trap lid must be secured so that when the wire degrades, the lid will no longer be securely closed; or

(III) the trap contains at least one sidewall, not including the bottom panel, with a rectangular opening no smaller than 3 inches by 6 inches. Any obstruction placed in this opening may not be secured in any manner except:

(-a-) it may be laced, sewn, or otherwise obstructed by a single length of untreated jute twine (comparable to Lehigh brand #530) or sisal twine (comparable to Lehigh brand #390) knotted only at each end and not tied or looped more than once around a single mesh bar. When the twine degrades, the opening in the sidewall of the trap will no longer be obstructed; or

(-b-) it may be laced, sewn, or otherwise obstructed by a single length of untreated steel wire with a diameter of no larger than 20 gauge. When the wire degrades, the opening in the sidewall of the trap will no longer be obstructed; or

(-c-) the obstruction may be loosely hinged at the bottom of the opening by no more than two untreated steel hog rings and secured at the top of the obstruction in no more than one place by a single length of untreated jute twine (comparable to Lehigh brand #530), sisal twine (comparable to Lehigh brand #390), or by a single length of untreated steel wire with a diameter of no larger than 20 gauge. When the twine or wire degrades, the obstruction will hinge downward and the opening in the sidewall of the trap will no longer be obstructed;

(F) fish a crab trap for commercial purposes under authority of a commercial crab fisherman's license:

(i) that is not marked with a floating white buoy not less than six inches in height, six inches in length, and six inches in width attached to the crab trap;

(ii) that is not marked with a white buoy bearing the commercial crab fisherman's license plate number in letters of a contrasting color at least two inches high attached to the crab trap;

(iii) that is marked with a buoy bearing a commercial crab fisherman's license plate number other than the commercial crab fisherman's license plate number displayed on the crab fishing boat;

(G) fish a crab trap for commercial purposes under authority of a commercial finfish fisherman's license:

(i) that is not marked with a floating white buoy not less than six inches in height, six inches in length, and six inches in width attached to the crab trap;

(ii) that is not marked with a white buoy bearing the letter 'F' and the commercial finfish fisherman's license plate number in letters of a contrasting color at least two inches high attached to the crab trap;

(iii) that is marked with a buoy bearing a commercial finfish fisherman's license plate number other than the commercial finfish fisherman's license plate number displayed on the finfish fishing boat;

(H) fish a crab trap for non-commercial purposes without a floating white buoy not less than six inches in height, six inches in length, and six inches in width, bearing a two-inch wide center stripe of contrasting color, attached to the crab trap;

(I) fish a crab trap in public salt waters for non-commercial purposes without a valid gear tag. Gear tags must be attached within 6 inches of the buoy and are valid for 10 days after date set out;

(J) fish a crab trap within 200 feet of a marked navigable channel in Aransas County; and in the water area of Aransas Bay within one-half mile of a line from Hail Point on the Lamar Peninsula, then direct to the eastern end of Goose Island, then along the southern shore of Goose Island, then along the eastern shoreline of the Live Oak Peninsula past the town of Fulton, past Nine Mile Point, past the town of Rockport to a point at the east end of Talley Island including that part of Copano Bay within 1,000 feet of the causeway between Lamar Peninsula and Live Oak Peninsula or possess, use or place:

(i) for recreational purposes, more than three crab traps in waters north and west of Highway 146 where it crosses the Houston Ship Channel in Harris County; or

(ii) for commercial purposes, a crab trap in waters north and west of Highway 146 where it crosses the Houston Ship Channel in Harris County;

(K) remove crab traps from the water or remove crabs from crab traps during the period from 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise;

(L) place a crab trap or portion thereof closer than 100 feet from any other crab trap, except when traps are secured to a pier or dock;

(M) fish a crab trap in public waters that is marked with a buoy made of a plastic bottle(s) of any color or size; or

(N) use or place more than three crab traps in public waters of the San Bernard River north of a line marked by the boat access channel at Bernard Acres.

(4) Dip net.

(A) It is unlawful to use a dip net except:

(i) to aid in the landing of fish caught on other legal devices; and

(ii) to take non-game fish.

(B) In salt water, non-game fish may be taken for bait purposes only.

(5) Folding panel trap.

(A) Only crabs may be taken with a folding panel trap.

(B) It is unlawful to use a folding panel trap with an overall surface area, including panels, exceeding 16 square feet.

(6) Gaff.

(A) It is unlawful to use a gaff except to aid in landing fish caught by other legal devices, means or methods.

(B) Fish landed with a gaff may not be below the minimum, above the maximum, or within a protected length limit.

(7) Gig. Only non-game fish may be taken with a gig.

(8) Handfishing. For use in fresh water only.

(A) Only blue, channel, and flathead catfish may be taken by means of handfishing.

(B) It is unlawful to intentionally place or use a trap in public waters for the purpose of taking catfish by handfishing.

(9) Jugline. For use in fresh water only. Non-game fish, channel catfish, blue catfish and flathead catfish may be taken with a jugline. It is unlawful to use a jugline:

(A) with invalid gear tags. Gear tags must be attached within six inches of the free-floating device, are valid for 6 days after the date set out, and must include the number of the permit to sell non-game fish taken from fresh water, if applicable;

(B) for commercial purposes that is not marked with an orange free-floating device that is less than six inches in length and three inches in diameter;

(C) for non-commercial purposes that is not marked with a free-floating device of any color other than orange that is less than six inches in length and three inches in diameter; and

(D) in Lake Bastrop in Bastrop County, Bellwood Lake in Smith County, Lake Bryan in Brazos County, Boerne City Park Lake in Kendall County, Lakes Coffee Mill and Davy Crockett in Fannin County, Dixieland Reservoir in Cameron County, Gibbons Creek Reservoir in Grimes County, Lake Naconiche in Nacogdoches County, and Tankersley Reservoir in Titus County.

(10) Lawful archery equipment. Only non-game fish may be taken with lawful archery equipment or crossbow.

(11) Minnow trap (fresh water and salt water). It is unlawful to use a minnow trap that is not marked with a floating, visible buoy of any color other than orange that is not less than six inches in height and six inches in width. The buoy must have a gear tag attached. A gear tag is valid for 6 days after the date it is set out.

(A) Only non-game fish may be taken with a minnow trap.

(B) It is unlawful to use a minnow trap that exceeds 24 inches in length or with a throat larger than one by three inches.

(12) Perch traps. For use in salt water only.

(A) Perch traps may be used only for taking non-game fish.

(B) It is unlawful to fish a perch trap that:

(i) exceeds 18 cubic feet in volume;

(ii) is not equipped with a degradable panel. A trap shall be considered to have a degradable panel if one of the following methods is used in construction of the trap:

(I) the trap lid tie-down strap is secured to the trap by a loop of untreated jute twine (comparable to Lehigh brand #530) or sisal twine (comparable to Lehigh brand #390). The trap lid must be secured so that when the twine degrades, the lid will no longer be securely closed; or

(II) the trap lid tie-down strap is secured to the trap by a loop of untreated steel wire with a diameter of no larger than 20 gauge. The trap lid must be secured so that when the wire degrades, the lid will no longer be securely closed; or

(III) the trap contains at least one sidewall, not including the bottom panel, with a rectangular opening no smaller than 3 inches by 6 inches. Any obstruction placed in this opening may not be secured in any manner except:

(-a-) it may be laced, sewn, or otherwise obstructed by a single length of untreated jute twine (comparable to Lehigh brand #530) or sisal twine (comparable to Lehigh brand #390) knotted only at each end and not tied or looped more than once around a single mesh bar. When the twine degrades, the opening in the sidewall of the trap will no longer be obstructed; or

(-b-) it may be laced, sewn, or otherwise obstructed by a single length of untreated steel wire with a diameter of no larger than 20 gauge. When the wire degrades, the opening in the sidewall of the trap will no longer be obstructed; or

(-c-) the obstruction may be loosely hinged at the bottom of the opening by no more than two untreated steel hog rings and secured at the top of the obstruction in no more than one place by a single length of untreated jute twine (comparable to Lehigh brand #530), sisal twine (comparable to Lehigh brand #390), or by a single length of untreated steel wire with a diameter of no larger than 20 gauge. When the twine or wire degrades, the obstruction will hinge downward and the opening in the sidewall of the trap will no longer be obstructed;

(iii) is not marked with a floating visible orange buoy not less than six inches in height and six inches in width. The buoy must have a gear tag attached. Gear tags are valid for 6 days after date set out.

(13) Pole and line.

(A) Game and non-game fish may be taken by pole and line. It is unlawful to use a pole and line to take or attempt to take fish by foul-hooking, snagging, or jerking. A fish is foul-hooked when caught by a hook in an area other than the fish's mouth.

(B) Game and non-game fish may be taken by pole and line. It is unlawful to take fish with a hand-operated device held underwater except that a spear gun and spear may be used to take non-game fish.

(C) Game and non-game fish may be taken by pole and line, except that in the Guadalupe River in Comal County from the second bridge crossing on River Road upstream to a point 800 yards downstream of the Canyon Lake dam outlet, rainbow and brown trout may not be retained when taken by any method except artificial lures. Artificial lures cannot contain or have attached either whole or portions, living or dead, of organisms such as fish, crayfish, insects (grubs, larvae, or adults), or worms, or any other animal or vegetable material, or synthetic scented materials. This does not prohibit the use of artificial lures that contain components of hair or feathers. It is an offense to possess rainbow and brown trout while fishing with any other device in that part of the Guadalupe River defined in this paragraph.

(14) Purse seine.

(A) Purse seines may be used only for taking menhaden, only from that portion of the Gulf of Mexico within the jurisdiction of this state extending from one-half mile offshore to nine nautical miles offshore.

(B) Purse seines used for taking menhaden may not be used within one mile of any jetty or pass.

(C) The purse seine, not including the bag, shall not be less than three-fourths inch square mesh.

(15) Sail line. For use in salt water only.

(A) Non-game fish, red drum, spotted seatrout, and sharks may be taken with a sail line.

(B) Line length shall not exceed 1,800 feet from the reel to the sail.

(C) The sail and most shoreward float must be a highly visible orange or red color. All other floats must be yellow.

(D) No float on the line may be more than 200 feet from the sail.

(E) A weight of not less than one ounce shall be attached to the line not less than four feet or more than six feet shoreward of the last shoreward float.

(F) Reflectors of not less than two square inches shall be affixed to the sail and floats and shall be visible from all directions for sail lines operated from 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise.

(G) There is no hook spacing requirement for sail lines.

(H) No more than one sail line may be used per fisherman.

(I) Sail lines may not be used by the holder of a commercial fishing license.

(J) Sail lines must be attended at all times the line is fishing.

(K) Sail lines may not have more than 30 hooks and no hook may be placed more than 200 feet from the sail.

(16) Sand pump. It is unlawful for any person to use a sand pump:

(A) that is not manually operated; or

(B) for commercial purposes.

(17) Seine.

(A) Only non-game fish may be taken with a seine.

(B) It is unlawful to use a seine:

(i) which is not manually operated;

(ii) with mesh exceeding 1/2-inch square; or

(iii) that exceeds 20 feet in length.

(C) In salt water, non-game fish may be taken by seine for bait purposes only.

(18) Shad trawl. For use in fresh water only.

(A) Only non-game fish may be taken with a shad trawl.

(B) It is unlawful to use a shad trawl longer than six feet or with a mouth larger than 36 inches in diameter.

(C) A shad trawl may be equipped with a funnel or throat and must be towed by boat or by hand.

(19) Spear. Only non-game fish may be taken with a spear.

(20) Spear gun. Only non-game fish may be taken with spear gun.

(21) Throwline. For use in fresh water only.

(A) Non-game fish, channel catfish, blue catfish and flathead catfish may be taken with a throwline.

(B) It is unlawful to use a throwline in Lake Bastrop in Bastrop County, Bellwood Lake in Smith County, Lake Bryan in Brazos County, Boerne City Park Lake in Kendall County, Lakes Coffee Mill and Davy Crockett in Fannin County, Dixieland Reservoir in Cameron County, Gibbons Creek Reservoir in Grimes County, Lake Naconiche in Nacogdoches County, and Tankersley Reservoir in Titus County.

(C) It is unlawful to use a throwline:

(i) that is not equipped with a gear tag. A gear tag is valid for 6 days after the date it is set out;

(ii) for commercial purposes that is not marked by an orange float that is less than six inches in length and three inches in diameter; and

(iii) for non-commercial purposes that is not marked with a float of any color other than orange that is less than six inches in length and three inches in diameter.

(22) Trotline.

(A) Non-game fish, channel catfish, blue catfish, and flathead catfish may be taken by trotline.

(B) It is unlawful to use a trotline:

(i) with a mainline length exceeding 600 feet;

(ii) with invalid gear tags. Gear tags must be attached within three feet of the first hook at each end of the trotline and are valid for 6 days after date set out, except on saltwater trotlines, a gear tag is not required to be dated;

(iii) with hook interval less than three horizontal feet;

(iv) with metallic stakes; or

(v) with the main fishing line, attached hooks, and stagings above the water's surface.

(C) In fresh water, it is unlawful to use a trotline:

(i) with more than 50 hooks;

(ii) in Gibbons Creek Reservoir in Grimes County, Lake Bastrop in Bastrop County, Lakes Coffee Mill and Davy Crockett in Fannin County, Fayette County Reservoir in Fayette County, Pinkston Reservoir in Shelby County, Lake Bryan in Brazos County, Bellwood Lake in Smith County, Dixieland Reservoir in Cameron County, Boerne City Park Lake in Kendall County, Lake Naconiche in Nacogdoches County, and Tankersley Reservoir in Titus County;

(iii) for commercial purposes that is not marked by an orange float that is less than six inches in length and three inches in diameter, and attached to end fixtures; and

(iv) for non-commercial purposes that is not marked with a float of any color other than orange that is less than six inches in length and three inches in diameter attached to each end fixture.

(D) In salt water:

(i) it is unlawful to use a trotline:

(I) in or on the waters of the Gulf of Mexico within the jurisdiction of this state;

(II) from which red drum, sharks or spotted seatrout caught on the trotline are retained or possessed;

(III) placed closer than 50 feet from any other trotline, or set within 200 feet of the edge of the Intracoastal Waterway or its tributary channels. No trotline may be fished with the main fishing line and attached hooks and stagings above the water's surface;

(IV) baited with other than natural bait, except sail lines;

(V) with hooks other than circle-type hook with point curved in and having a gap (distance from point to shank) of no more than one-half inch, and with the diameter of the circle not less than five-eighths inch. Sail lines are excluded from the restrictions imposed by this clause; or

(VI) in Aransas County in Little Bay and the water area of Aransas Bay within one-half mile of a line from Hail Point on the Lamar Peninsula, then direct to the eastern end of Goose Island, then along the southern shore of Goose Island, then along the causeway between Lamar Peninsula and Live Oak Peninsula, then along the eastern shoreline of the Live Oak Peninsula past the town of Fulton, past Nine-Mile Point, past the town of Rockport to a point at the east end of Talley Island, including that part of Copano Bay within 1,000 feet of the causeway between Lamar Peninsula and Live Oak Peninsula.

(ii) No trotline or trotline components, including lines and hooks, but excluding poles, may be left in or on coastal waters between the hours of 1:00 p.m. on Friday through 1:00 p.m. on Sunday of each week, except that attended sail lines are excluded from the restrictions imposed by this clause. Under the authority of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Code, §66.206(b), in the event small craft advisories or higher marine weather advisories issued by the National Weather Service are in place at 8:00 a.m. on Friday, trotlines may remain in the water until 6:00 p.m. on Friday. If small craft advisories are in place at 1:00 p.m. on Friday, trotlines may remain in the water until Saturday. When small craft advisories are lifted by 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, trotlines must be removed by 1:00 p.m. on Saturday. When small craft advisories are lifted by 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, trotlines must be removed by 6:00 p.m. on Saturday. When small craft advisories or higher marine weather advisories are still in place at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, trotlines may remain in the water through 1:00 p.m. on Sunday. It is a violation to tend, bait, or harvest fish or any other aquatic life from trotlines during the period that trotline removal requirements are suspended under this provision for adverse weather conditions. For purposes of enforcement, the geographic area customarily covered by marine weather advisories will be delineated by department policy.

(iii) It is unlawful to fish for commercial purposes with:

(I) more than 20 trotlines at one time;

(II) any trotline that is not marked with yellow flagging attached to stakes or with a floating yellow buoy not less than six inches in height, six inches in length, and six inches in width attached to end fixtures;

(III) any trotline that is not marked with yellow flagging attached to stakes or with a yellow buoy bearing the commercial finfish fisherman's license plate number in letters of a contrasting color at least two inches high attached to end fixtures;

(IV) any trotline that is marked with yellow flagging or with a buoy bearing a commercial finfish fisherman's license plate number other than the commercial finfish fisherman's license plate number displayed on the finfish fishing boat.

(iv) It is unlawful to fish for non-commercial purposes with:

(I) more than 1 trotline at any time; or

(II) any trotline that is not marked with a floating yellow buoy not less than six inches in height, six inches in length, and six inches in width, bearing a two-inch wide stripe of contrasting color, attached to end fixtures.

(23) Umbrella net.

(A) Only non-game fish may be taken with an umbrella net.

(B) It is unlawful to use an umbrella net with the area within the frame exceeding 16 square feet.

The agency certifies that legal counsel has reviewed the adoption and found it to be a valid exercise of the agency's legal authority.

Filed with the Office of the Secretary of State on January 9, 2020.

TRD-202000079

Robert D. Sweeney, Jr.

General Counsel

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Effective date: February 1, 2020

Proposal publication date: September 27, 2019

For further information, please call: (512) 389-4775