people fishing from the pier"Do the Right Thing" When You Fish

Your Fishing Compass

Which way will you go when faced with tough choices while fishing? Your ethics will play a big role in making that decision. Your ethics are the rules or values you use to help you choose behavior that is fair to others and to yourself. We practice ethical behavior when we “do the right thing” even when we think we won’t be caught or punished for our behavior.

Ethics are difficult to teach and are not equally shared by all people. However, ethical anglers can “do the right thing” to be fair to other anglers and to help conserve fish and aquatic environments. Wise use of fish and aquatic resources by all anglers will ensure that those resources will still be available in the future.

To decide if your behaviors are ethical, ask yourself the following questions.

Obey the Law

  1. If you are 17 years old or older, buy appropriate fishing licenses and tags.
  2. Know and follow the fishing regulations for the place you are fishing. Always check the current Texas fishing regulations, available for free when you purchase a fishing or hunting license. Remember that fishing rules can change from one location to another.
  3. If a fish dies while in your possession but it is not legal to keep it, regulations state that you must still release it.
  4. It is not legal to catch fish and purposely allow them to die. The law doesn’t recognize any fish as a “nuisance fish.”

Be Considerate of Others

  1. Respect other anglers’ rights. Don’t crowd another angler or make loud noises when another person is fishing.
  2. Always get permission before fishing on private land.
  3. If you are fishing on private land and keeping fish, share your catch with the landowner.
  4. Always leave your fishing area cleaner than when you arrived so that other anglers can enjoy it as you did.
  5. Share your knowledge of fishing with others.

Conserve Fish and Aquatic Ecosystems

  1. Practice catch-and-release unless you plan to eat the fish.If you are not going to use the fish you catch, gently place them back in the water as quickly as possible. (See How to Handle Fish ) Remember that all native fish (even the ones you may consider a nuisance fish) play important roles in aquatic ecosystems and should be released carefully.
  2. Place excess fishing line, bait boxes, and litter in trashcans or pack it out with you. A major cause of injury for fish and wildlife along waterways is getting tangled in abandoned fishing line, not to mention that people and boat propellers can also get tangled.
  3. Dispose of motor oil and gasoline in receptacles made for that purpose…away from water resources.
  4. Obey all rules posted at parks and other natural areas.

Watch the "Safe Fishing" video.

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