AUSTIN – After nearly a year of reviewing special largemouth bass regulations in place across the state, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department inland fisheries management staff are considering changes to simplify regulations at 18 public lakes.
Inland Fisheries staff previewed the potential changes to bass regulations to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission at their meeting held yesterday in Lufkin.
“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, TPWD Chief of Inland Fisheries Management and Research. “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.”
Twelve of the 18 lakes affected by the potential changes would revert to the statewide 14-inch minimum length limit, which governs nearly 80 percent of water bodies in the state. The other six lakes affected would see changes to more appropriate special regulations.
Lakes being considered to revert to the statewide limit include Granbury, Possum Kingdom, Ratcliff, Bryan, Cooper, Old Mount Pleasant City, Bridgeport, Burke-Crenshaw, Georgetown, Madisonville, San Augustine and Sweetwater.
A change from the 14-24 inch slot length limit to a 16-24 inch slot is being considered for Fayette County Reservoir, Gibbons Creek Reservoir and Lake Monticello. Under the potential changes, Grapevine Lake would change to no minimum length limit with a bag limit of 5 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.
Terre said before considering any changes, district fisheries biologists were tasked to look carefully at the special regulations and determine if they met the current largemouth bass goals and objectives at each reservoir. In some cases, such as those lakes with 14-18 inch slot length limits and the 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 inch slot length limit or catch and release only were moved to other successful regulation types to reduce regulation complexity without compromising fishery management goals.
If the changes being considered are approved, the number of reservoirs 500 acres and larger with special largemouth bass regulations would decrease from 30 to 21. Terre said biologists will continue to look at the remaining reservoirs with special regulations with the intent of further simplifying the rules at those lakes, too.
“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.”
Additionally, inland fisheries staff are considering changing existing special regulations on lakes Bellwood and Davey Crockett, to a 16-inch maximum length limit. Terre said these changes are being considered to improve or maintain the existing bass populations in these reservoirs.
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 those to Dave Terre (firstname.lastname@example.org; 512-389-4855).