Fish Texas - Spring 2014

Catch the spring update on the hows and wheres of Texas fishing
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Fish Texas Saltwater man, child silouette

In this issue:


Zebra Mussels, Rules Expand into Central Texas

zebra mussels on pipe

Anglers and boaters leaving or approaching public waters in 47 central and north Texas counties are now  − or will soon be  −  required to drain all water from their boats, including live wells, bilges, motors, and bait buckets. In January, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission approved the rule expansion after the presence of zebra mussels was confirmed in Lake Belton. The expansion adds 30 counties to 17 counties in and around the DFW area in North Texas where the rules are already in place. See whether the ruling affects your county.

Zebra mussels can spread from lake to lake by hitching a ride on boats and trailers. Once in lakes, these tiny travelers cause serious economic and recreational damage to Texas waters, hurting aquatic life, harming boats and motors and affecting local water supplies

The rule applies to all types and sizes of boats, whether powered or not, personal watercraft, sailboats, or any other vessel used on public waters. 

The Commission’s actions also modified the rules that affect participants in fishing tournaments holding off-site weigh-ins. Anglers participating in a fishing tournament confined to one water body during a single day are allowed to transport live fish in water from that water body to an identified weigh-in location, provided all water is drained from their vessels before leaving the weigh-in location. Anglers will be required to possess documentation provided by tournament organizers that would identify them as tournament participants.

The rule will take likely take effect in  March.

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Lake Fork is H-O-T!

happy angler holding big bassYou may want to scope out Lake Fork as a fishing destination this spring.  It’s in the big bass groove and the news just keeps on coming.
  • What's Lake Fork like? Watch “The Guide” to see what the lake looks like from the viewpoint of fishing guide Brian Duplechain who spends over 300 days a year there.
  • How big are the fish? Three qualifying ShareLunkers (13-pound-plus largemouth bass caught and given to TPWD for spawning purposes) have already been reeled in this season. The latest big one was caught by Randall E. Claybourne of Tulsa, Oklahoma who was night fishing in mid-January in 15 feet of water when a 13.86-pound bass took his jig-and-craw lure. It was held for pickup at Lake Fork Marina, an official Toyota ShareLunker Weigh and Holding Station.
  • What's next? The Toyota Texas Bass Classic returns to Lake Fork May 9-11 with plenty of fishing excitement and entertainment. Watch the video “Battle at the Fork”  which tells the tale of two professional anglers at the 2007 Bass Classic.

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Read Your Free Digital Fishing Magazine Here

Magazine cover -  Fishing Itching to get out your rod and reel and try your luck? Check out the special free Texas Fishing 2014 from Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine.

While saltwater and freshwater forecasts from our fish biologists take center stage, you can also read about the best way to freeze your catch and cook it, and how to successfully find fish to catch all year long. Share this great resource with fishing friends and have a great spring fishing season.

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Do you Know These Basic Fishing Knots?

fishing gear on rocky beach

A great fishing experience can depend on small things. Sometimes your best catch can hang by a − well, a knot. Brush up with these videos to be sure the best fish of your day doesn’t get away for want of a good knot: 

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Love Seafood? Love Nature? Love your Estuaries

aerial view: sunset over a coastal estuaryCrab? Shrimp? Oysters? Redfish? These Texas delights owe their abundance to the coastal estuaries and bays and the seagrass beds within them. These brackish areas are the essential nurseries that support the production and harvest of over 110 million pounds of seafood each year, creating a significant boost to the state’s economy as well as drawing coastal anglers and visitors. Some our favorite birds and wildlife also depend on these coastal areas.

Estuaries are the most productive ecosystems on the earth, and freshwater inflows are the single most important determinant of that productivity.

How are our estuaries doing? Take the quiz below and then watch this video to check your knowledge.

  • TRUE OR FALSE - Over the last century about 50% of Texas coastal wetlands have been filled in, eroded away or destroyed.
  • TRUE OR FALSE - Up to 60% of Texas seagrass beds are gone.
  • TRUE OR FALSE - Over 50% of Texas oyster reefs no longer exist.

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Partnerships Revive Fishing at Inks Lake

two anglers holding really big bass, nighttime

Inks Lake fishing gets the green light!  Over the past three years brush piles, gravel beds and (green) light structures designed to attract fish have been created in areas accessible by boat and bank anglers. The enhanced north pier sites improve bank fishing access and overnight visitors can fish all night. Both north and south piers attract all game fish species available at Inks Lake.

“These types of projects can be costly and labor-intensive; however, they become possible due to partnerships with groups committed to conservation,” according to TPWD District Fisheries Supervisor Marcos De Jesus. Read more about the Inks Lake project.

Eagle Scout candidate William Patterson, along with Troop 5 of the Boy Scouts of America, led the joint efforts behind the open-water brush pile attractors. TPWD and other volunteers also committed to the projects.

Find the GPS coordinates for the structures and directions to Inks Lake State Park, which offers the only public boat ramp access to the lake.

Know a local reservoir you’d like to help enhance? See for details or contact your local district fisheries management office.

Pictured: Inks Lake State Park lead ranger, Chris Hall (left), and Marcos De Jesus, Inland Fisheries district biologist (right), display two memorable largemouth bass sampled near the habitat structure at the north pier. 

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Spring Reminder: Avoid Rookery Islands, Save Birds

spoonbills, egrets on a rookery islandKeep a distance from small coastal islands and rookery islands between March and August, a habitat and season that birds depend on to raise their young.

Watch for these signs: If your presence makes the bird start calling continuously or show other nervous behavior, you are too close. If birds fly off the nest as you approach, you’ve already gotten too close and may cause catastrophic effects on eggs and nestlings.

Watch “Guarding the Nest” and share it with fishing and boating buddies who may go too close to the rookery islands.

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Fly Fish Extravaganza in Athens, March 8

senior volunteer teaching young girl to tie a flyLearn to tie a fly, cast a fly and catch a fish all in one day during the annual Fly Fish Texas event at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center on March 8. Take your pick or try them all:
  • One-on-one fly-tying instruction and beginners' classes in the afternoon.
  • Walk-up casting lessons all day as well as scheduled sessions teaching single- and double-hand Spey rod casting.
  • Seminars on how to fly-fish fresh and salt waters for a variety of species.
  • Fly-fish all day on the Center’s ponds and streams. Food vendors on site or bring a picnic! 

Show hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. All Fly Fish Texas activities are free with regular paid admission to the center. Visit Fly Fish Texas for a complete schedule of activities and seminars. Watch a video preview.

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Texas State-Fish Art Contest Seeks Entries

student art - underwater, fish, rocks, plants

Calling teachers and students: There’s still time to draw a prize-winning fish. The Texas State-Fish Art Contest is accepting entries through March 31.

Students have the opportunity to win prizes and national recognition while learning about state-fish species, behaviors, aquatic habitats, and conservation. The art competition is sponsored by Wildlife Forever, a nation-wide non-profit organization dedicated to conserving America’s wildlife heritage through on-the-ground projects in all 50 states. 

The contest is open to any student in public, private or home schools in grades K-12. Students must draw or paint any recognized state fish and write an essay about it. The Toyota Texas Bass Classic (TTBC) provides funds for prizes for first-, second- and third-place Texas winners in each of the four grade-level divisions. First place in grades 10–12 wins $1,000; second place $750; third place $500. Prizes in the K–3, 4–6 and 7–9 grade levels are $100 for first; $75 for second; $50 for third. Contest details and entry forms can be found at

2013 Texas winner,1st place, grades 7-9 – Casey Nixon © Wildlife Forever

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Catching Sharks: Know Your Limits!

shark swimming

Anglers in Texas are allowed one shark per person per day with a two-shark possession limit. But not all sharks are equal. Learn what sharks are keepers and how to identify them.

Some shark species MAY NOT be retained (zero bag limit) and must be released immediately without removing them from the water. Learn more about prohibited species.

If you catch a shark and are unsure of the species, please release it immediately.

A note about sawfish: While you’re out on the water, help protect sawfish. It is prohibited to take, kill or disturb the endangered smalltooth sawfish, or to take or kill a largetooth sawfish. Please report all sawfish encounters to the National Sawfish Encounter Database. Email or call (352) 392-2360.

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Get the Weekly Fishing Reports as a Text

Thousands of Texas anglers receive updates on Toyota ShareLunkers and Weekly Fishing Reports. TPWD now also offers these updates in the form of text messages to your phone or other wireless device. To subscribe, visit the sign up page, choose the "SMS/TextMessage" option and provide your phone number. Standard text message rates apply.

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