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March 26, 2009
Alligator Gar Bag Limit to go into Effect Sept. 1, 2009
AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission today approved a number of proposed changes to freshwater fishing regulations, including the state’s first measure aimed at protecting alligator gar. The prehistoric-looking predators can live as long as 75 years and are the largest freshwater fishes in Texas.
The statewide regulation on alligator gar will change Sept. 1, 2009, from no length or daily bag limit to a one fish per day bag limit. The bag will apply to both recreational and commercial fishing.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Inland Fisheries Division Director Phil Durocher told commissioners that Texas has the best remaining alligator gar populations in the country.
"We have a window of opportunity to sustain populations by limiting harvest to one alligator gar per day. It’s a good first step toward managing gar into the future," Durocher said.
While research on the fish, which can grow to more than 250 pounds, is still in its early stages in Texas, biologists know that alligator gar are very long-lived animals and take a long time to reach sexual maturity, with females attaining an age of 12 years and a length of about 60 inches before spawning for the first time.
Alligator gars also apparently require very specific spawning conditions, including flooded terrestrial vegetation or seasonally flooded backwaters.
Current research being conducted by fisheries biologists in Texas includes investigations into size structure and year class strength in a mark-recapture study; a seasonal movement and habitat study on radio-tagged fish; and research that looks a the genetics of alligator gar populations as well as contaminants that may be present in the fish.
Public comment on the alligator gar proposal was 167 comments against the department’s recommendation and 233 comments in favor of the regulation, with the majority of concerns raised by bow and commercial fishermen.
Blue Catfish — Lake Lewisville (Denton County), Lake Richland Chambers (Navarro and Freestone Counties), and Lake Waco (McLennan County)
Harvest regulations for blue catfish on these reservoirs currently consist of the statewide limits (12-inch minimum length limit and 25 fish daily bag limit). Changes approved by the commission consist of a 25 fish daily bag limit with a 30 to 45-inch slot length limit, and harvest of only one blue catfish over 45 inches would be allowed. No harvest of blue catfish between 30 and 45 inches will be allowed.
Largemouth Bass — Lake Ray Roberts (Cooke, Denton, and Grayson Counties)
The commission approved changes will make Lake Ray Roberts consistent with the statewide limits for largemouth bass (14-inch minimum length limit and five fish daily bag limit).
Lake Texoma — Cooke and Grayson Counties
Alligator gar -The commission approved a harvest closure in May to protect spawning adults in a portion of the lake that is within the Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge and a portion of the lake upstream of the U.S. Highway 377 bridge to the Interstate Highway 35 bridge.
Blue and channel catfish — The commission changed harvest regulations for blue channel catfish from a 15 per day bag limit to a 15 per day bag limit of which only one blue catfish 30 inches or greater may be harvested per day.
On the Net:
- More information about alligator gar: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/publications/nonpwdpubs/media/gar_status_073108.pdf
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