Increasing angler pressure has prompted the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) to propose catch-and-release regulations for largemouth and smallmouth bass on a portion of the Devils River, which feeds into Lake Amistad from the north.
“The pressure has increased over the last 10 to 15 years,” TPWD's Ken Kurzawski said. “In 2013, we began requiring access permits from any TPWD property. In the first year, we had 780 permits. This year, we expect at least 1,300.”
“What we are proposing in January is to institute catch-and-release for largemouth and smallmouth bass on the Devils from Baker’s Crossing to Big Satan Creek, a distance of 38 miles,” he added. “This is where the river becomes wider and more lake-like. It is the downstream boundary of the state natural area.”
The biologist added that smallmouth have been increasing in the river, while the overall size of largemouth has declined.
If the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission approves the regulation, it then would be open for public comment, with implementation possible in September 2017.
One of the most remote and unspoiled waterways in Texas, the Devils is part of the Rio Grande drainage. It is fed by numerous clear springs in the region's karst topography, which includes rugged ridges, canyons, and grassy banks. While it features white water, a portion also flows underground, where gravel, sand, and limestone filter to help maintain high water quality.
TPWD's Devils River State Natural Area consists of 37,000 acres in two units, including the original 20,000-acre portion called Del Norte and newly acquired 17,000-acre Dan A. Hughes Unit. Del Norte offers primitive camping, mountain biking, horseback riding, hiking, and camping, as well as fishing. It also features a group barracks that can accommodate up to10 people.