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Texas Considers Simplifying Bass Regs.

Texas fisheries managers are considering simplifying bass regulations statewide.

“Largemouth bass are one of the first species we started managing in the state, and we’ve done a great job managing our bass fisheries through time,” said Dave Terre, chief of Inland Fisheries for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD).

“Our process has been to use different kinds of regulations for bass to accomplish specific management goals. With these potential changes, we still hope to attain the same management goals, but we are trying to reduce the number and kinds of special regulations with the goal of making them less complicated, more easily understood and enforceable.”

Under the recommendations that TPWD recently previewed to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, 12 of 18 lakes with special regulations would revert to the statewide 14-inch minimum length limit, which governs nearly 80 percent of the state's waterbodies. The other six would see changes appropriate to the population dynamics of those fisheries.

Granbury, Possum Kingdom, Ratcliff, Bryan, Cooper, Old Mount Pleasant City, Bridgeport, Burke-Crenshaw, Georgetown, Madisonville, San Augustine, and Sweetwater would be managed under the statewide length limit.

Meanwhile, TPWD is considering a change from the 14-to-24-inch slot length limit to a 16-24 slot for Fayette County Reservoir, Gibbons Creek Reservoir, and Lake Monticello. Additionally, Grapevine Lake would change to no minimum length limit with a bag limit of five fish of which only two can be less than 18 inches. Purtis Creek State Park Lake and Lake Raven would change from catch and release only to a five-fish daily bag and a 16-inch maximum length limit. The 16-24 slot and 16-inch maximum limits include provisions for anglers to possess bass 24 inches or longer for possible submission to the Toyota ShareLunker program.

“Our goal is for anglers to see less variation of the largemouth bass rules when they visit Texas lakes,” Terre said. “But we are doing this without sacrificing our standards of making the bass fishing great. We hold that high and true for our fisheries.”

Before these changes were considered, he added, district fisheries biologists looked carefully at the special regulations to determine if they met current largemouth bass goals and objectives at each reservoir. In some cases, such as those lakes with 14-18 slot length limits and  16- and 18-inch minimum length limits, biologists found the regulations had little or mixed results on the bass population when compared to the statewide limit. Reservoirs having a 14-24 slot length limit or catch and release only were moved to other successful regulation types to reduce regulation complexity without compromising fishery management goals.

Early in 2018, Inland Fisheries staff  officially will present these possible changes to the commission. If the commission approves, the proposed changes will be published in the Texas Register, which begins the process of official public comment.

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