2014 - 2015

Legal Devices, Methods & Restrictions

These devices, subject to restrictions listed, may be used to take fish and other aquatic life in Texas public waters. Methods and devices not listed here are not legal for use in Texas.

Game Fish

Game fish may be taken only by pole and line (which includes rod and reel), except as otherwise provided in this guide. A person may fish with multiple poles or other devices, except as provided herein. In fresh water, there is a limit of 100 hooks on all devices combined.

In fresh water, it is unlawful to take fish with a hand operated device held underwater except that a spear or spear gun may be used to take NONGAME fish.

Cast Net

A cast net is a net that can be hand-thrown over an area.

  • May be used to take NONGAME fish and shrimp only. (See shrimp regulations)
  • May not be greater than 14 feet in diameter.
  • In SALT WATER, nongame fish may be taken for bait purposes only.

Dip Net

A dip net is a mesh bag suspended from a frame attached to a handle.

  • May be used to take NONGAME fish only.
  • May be used to aid in the landing of fish caught by other legal devices.
  • In SALT WATER, nongame fish may be taken for bait purposes only.

Gaff

A gaff is any hand-held pole with a hook attached directly to the pole.

  • May only be used to aid in the landing of fish caught on other legal devices, means or methods.
  • Fish landed with a gaff MAY NOT be below the minimum, above the maximum, or within a protected length limit.

Gig

A gig is any hand-held shaft with single or multiple points, barbed or barbless.

  • May be used to take NONGAME fish only.

Handfishing

  • Fishing by the use of hands only. The use of any other fishing device while handfishing (including but not limited to gaff, pole hook, trap, spear or stick) is unlawful.
  • No person may intentionally place a trap (including such devices as boxes, barrels or pipes) in public fresh water for the purpose of taking catfish by handfishing.
  • May be used to take channel, blue and flathead catfish in fresh water only. 

Jugline

For use in FRESH WATER only. A fishing line with five or less hooks tied to a free-floating device.

  • May be used to take NONGAME fish, channel catfish, blue catfish and flathead catfish only.

Placement and Location Restrictions

Juglines may not be used in:

  • Community Fishing Lakes
  • Reservoirs or sections of rivers lying totally within the boundaries of a state park
  • Bellwood Lake in Smith County
  • Boerne City Lake in Kendall County
  • Canyon Lake Project #6 in Lubbock County
  • Dixieland Reservoir in Cameron County
  • Gibbons Creek Reservoir in Grimes County
  • Lake Bastrop in Bastrop County
  • Lake Bryan in Brazos County
  • Lakes Coffee Mill and Davy Crockett in Fannin County
  • Lake Pflugerville in Travis County
  • Lake Naconiche in Nacogdoches County
  • North Concho River from O.C. Fisher dam to the Bell Street dam
  • South Concho River from Lone Wolf dam to Bell Street dam
  • Tankersley Reservoir in Titus County
  • Wheeler Branch Reservoir in Somervell County

Tagging and Marking Requirements

  • Must be used with a valid GEAR TAG (see Definitions) attached within 6 inches of the free-floating device; gear tag is valid for 10 days after the date set out and must include the number of the permit to sell nongame fish taken from fresh water, if applicable. Properly marked buoys or floats qualify as valid gear tags.
  • For non-commercial purposes, a jugline must be marked with a free-floating device of any color other than orange.
  • For commercial purposes, a jugline must be marked with an orange, free-floating device.

Lawful Archery Equipment

Lawful archery equipment includes longbow, recurved bow, compound bow and crossbow

  • May be used to take NONGAME fish only.
  • Any fish that is edible or can be used for bait (includes all gar species, common carp and buffalo) may not be released back into the water after being taken with lawful archery equipment. See Waste of Fish.
  • State regulations permit bow fishing in most public waters (see Exceptions to Statewide Freshwater Harvest Regulations and Restricted Areas in Counties. However, bow fishers are advised to check with local authorities that may have ordinances restricting use of archery equipment.
  • A person bow fishing on a navigable stream in Dimmit, Edwards, Frio, Kenedy, Llano, Maverick, Real, Uvalde, or Zavala counties may not possess an arrow equipped with fletching of any kind, an unbarbed arrow, or a bow that is not equipped with a reel and line.

Minnow Trap

  • May be used to take NONGAME fish only.
  • Trap may not exceed 24 inches in length. The throat may not exceed 1 inch by 3 inches.
  •  Gear tag valid for only 10 days must be visibly attached.

Perch Traps

For use in SALT WATER only.

  • May be used to take NONGAME fish only.
  • May not exceed 18 cubic feet.
  • Must be marked with a floating visible orange buoy not less than 6 inches in height and 6 inches in width. The buoy must have a gear tag valid only for 10 days attached.
  • Must be equipped with a degradable panel as described for crab traps.
  • Buoys or floats may not be made of plastic bottle(s) of any color or size.
  • It is unlawful to place any type of trap within the area in Cedar Bayou between a department sign erected where Mesquite Bay flows into Cedar Bayou and the department sign erected near the point where the pass empties into the Gulf of Mexico.

Pole and Line

A line with hook, attached to a pole (includes rod and reel)

  • May be used to take GAME AND NONGAME fish.
  • It is unlawful to take or attempt to take fish with one or more hooks attached to a line or artificial lure used in a manner to foul-hook a fish (snagging or jerking). A fish is foul-hooked when caught by a hook in an area other than the fish's mouth.
  • Game and nongame fish may be taken by pole and line, except that in the Guadalupe River in Comal County starting 800 yards downstream from the Canyon Dam release and extending downstream to the second bridge crossing on River Road, rainbow and brown trout may not be retained when taken by any method except artificial lures. In this area only, artificial lures cannot contain or have attached either whole or portions, living or dead, of organisms such as fish, crayfish, insects (grubs, larvae or adults) or worms, any other animal or vegetable material, or synthetic scented materials. This does not prohibit the use of artificial lures that contain components of hair or feathers. It is an offense to possess rainbow and brown trout while fishing with any other device in that part of the Guadalupe River defined in this paragraph.
  • Pole and line is the only lawful method for taking game and nongame fish from Community Fishing Lakes, sections of rivers lying totally within boundaries of a state park, the North Concho River from O.C. Fisher dam to the Bell Street dam, the South Concho River from Lone Wolf dam to Bell Street dam, Wheeler Branch Reservoir, Lake Pflugerville and Canyon Lake Project #6. 

Sail Line

For use in SALT WATER only. A type of trotline with one end of the main line fixed on the shore, the other end of the main line attached to a wind-powered floating device or sail.

  • Nongame fish, red drum, spotted seatrout and sharks may be taken with a sail line.
  • No more than 1 sail line may be used per fisherman.
  • The sail line must be attended at all times the line is fishing.
  • Sail lines may not be used by the holder of a commercial fishing license.
  • Sail lines may be used 7 days a week.
  • Tag Requirements:
  • Construction and Design Restrictions

    • Sail line may not exceed 1,800 feet from reel to sail.
    • Sail and the most shoreward float must be bright orange or red color. All other floats must be yellow. No float may be more than 200 feet from the sail.
    • A weight of 1 ounce or more must be attached to the line not less than 4 feet or more than 6 feet shoreward of the most shoreward float.
    • Reflectors of not less than 2 square inches shall be attached to the sail and floats. They must be easily seen from all directions. This applies for sail lines operated from 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise.
    • May have no more than 30 hooks.
    • There is no hook spacing requirement.
    • No hook may be placed more than 200 feet from the sail.
    • May be baited with either natural or artificial bait.

    Placement and Location Restrictions

    Must meet placement and location requirements for saltwater trotlines

    Seine

    A seine is a section of non-metallic mesh webbing, with the top edge buoyed upwards by a floatline and the bottom edge weighted. Includes a push net.

    • May be used to take NONGAME fish and shrimp only.
    • May not be longer than 20 feet.
    • May not have mesh exceeding 1/2-inch square.
    • Must be manually operated.
    • In SALT WATER, nongame fish may be taken by seine for bait purposes only.

    Shad Trawl

    For use in FRESH WATER only. A bag-shaped net which is dragged along the bottom or through the water to catch aquatic life.

    • May be used to take NONGAME fish only.
    • May not be longer than 6 feet or with a mouth larger than 36 inches in diameter.
    • May be equipped with a funnel or throat and must be towed by boat or hand.

    Spear

    Any shaft with single or multiple points, barbed or barbless, which may be propelled by any means, but does not include arrows.

    • May be used to take NONGAME fish only.

    Spear Gun

    Any hand operated device designed and used for propelling a spear, but does not include the crossbow.

    • May be used to take NONGAME fish only.

    Throwline

    For use in FRESH WATER only. A fishing line with five or less hooks and with one end attached to a permanent fixture. Components of a throwline may also include swivels, snaps, rubber and rigid support structures.

    • May be used to take NONGAME fish, channel catfish, blue catfish and flathead catfish only.
    • A valid gear tag must be attached. Gear tag is valid for 10 days after the date set out.

    Placement and Location Restrictions

    Throwlines may not be used in:

    • Community Fishing Lakes
    • Reservoirs or sections of rivers lying totally within the boundaries of a state park
    • Bellwood Lake in Smith County
    • Boerne City Lake in Kendall County
    • Canyon Lake Project #6 in Lubbock County
    • Dixieland Reservoir in Cameron County
    • Gibbons Creek Reservoir in Grimes County
    • Lake Bastrop in Bastrop County
    • Lake Bryan in Brazos County
    • Lakes Coffee Mill and Davy Crockett in Fannin County
    • Lake Naconiche in Nacogdoches County
    • Lake Pflugerville in Travis County
    • North Concho River from O.C. Fisher dam to the Bell Street dam
    • South Concho River from Lone Wolf dam to Bell Street dam
    • Tankersley Reservoir in Titus County
    • Wheeler Branch Reservoir in Somervell County

    Trawl (Individual Bait-Shrimp Trawl)

    For use in SALT WATER only. A bag-shaped net which is dragged along the bottom or through the water to catch aquatic life. Restricted to hand-operated trawls only; use of mechanical devices is unlawful.

    • See Shrimp Regulations for trawl design restrictions.
    • Nongame fish (EXCEPT those species regulated by bag or size limits) taken incidental to legal shrimping operations may be retained.
    • "Legal shrimping operations" means the use of a legal trawl in places, at times and in manners as authorized by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (see Shrimp Regulations for details).
    • 200 nongame fish taken with an individual bait-shrimp trawl may be retained per person for BAIT PURPOSES ONLY.

    Trotline

    A non-metallic main fishing line with more than five hooks attached and with each end attached to a fixture.

    • Nongame fish, channel catfish, blue catfish and flathead catfish may be taken by trotline.
    • Red drum, spotted seatrout and sharks caught on a trotline may not be retained or possessed.

    General Construction and Design Restrictions

    Trotlines may not be used with:

    • a mainline length exceeding 600 feet;
    • hooks spaced less than 3 horizontal feet apart;
    • metallic stakes;
    • or the main fishing line and attached hooks and stagings placed above the water's surface.

    Trotlines in Fresh Water

    Tag Requirements

    Trotlines in fresh water must be used with a valid gear tag. Properly marked buoys or floats qualify as valid gear tags. Gear tags must be attached within 3 feet of the first hook at each end of the trotline and are valid for 10 days after the date set out.

    Construction and Design Restrictions

    Trotlines in fresh water may not have more than 50 hooks on any one trotline.

    Placement and Location Restrictions

    Trotlines in fresh water may not be used in:

    • Community Fishing Lakes
    • Reservoirs or sections of rivers lying totally within the boundaries of a state park
    • Bellwood Lake in Smith County
    • Boerne City Lake in Kendall County
    • Canyon Lake Project #6 in Lubbock County
    • Dixieland Reservoir in Cameron County
    • Fayette County Reservoir in Fayette County
    • Gibbons Creek Reservoir in Grimes County
    • Lake Bastrop in Bastrop County
    • Lake Bryan in Brazos County
    • Lakes Coffee Mill and Davy Crockett in Fannin County
    • Lake Naconiche in Nacogdoches County
    • Lake Pflugerville in Travis County
    • North Concho River from O.C. Fisher dam to the Bell Street dam
    • Pinkston Reservoir in Shelby County
    • South Concho River from Lone Wolf dam to Bell Street dam
    • Tankersley Reservoir in Titus County
    • Wheeler Branch Reservoir in Somervell County

    Trotlines In Salt Water

    No more than 1 trotline may be used per fisherman.

    Tag Requirements

    • Must have a valid Saltwater Trotline Tag attached to each 300 feet of mainline or fraction thereof. (Tag must be purchased at TPWD Law Enforcement offices.)
    • Must be used with a valid GEAR TAG attached within 3 feet of the first hook at each end of the trotline. Tag does not need to be dated.

    Construction and Design Restrictions

    • Must be marked with a yellow floating buoy not less than 6 inches in height, 6 inches in length and 6 inches in width, bearing a two-inch wide stripe of contrasting color, attached to end fixtures.
    • Buoys or floats may not be made of plastic bottle(s) of any color or size.
    • May not be baited with other than natural bait. Natural bait is a whole or cut-up portion of a fish or shellfish or a whole or cut-up portion of plant material in its natural state, provided that none of these may be altered beyond cutting into portions.
    • May not be used with hooks other than circle-type hook with point curved in and having a gap (distance from point to shank) of no more than one-half inch, and with the diameter of the circle not less than five-eighths inch (comparable to Mustad 11/0 circle hook Model #39960ST).

    Placement and Location Restrictions

    • May not be used in or on the waters of the Gulf of Mexico within the jurisdiction of this state.
    • May not be placed closer than 50 feet from any other trotline, or set within 200 feet of the edge of the Intracoastal Waterway or its tributary channels.
    • May not be used in Aransas County in Little Bay and the water area of Aransas Bay within one-half mile of a line from Hail Point on the Lamar Peninsula, then direct to the eastern end of Goose Island, then along the southern shore of Goose Island, then along the causeway between Lamar Peninsula and Live Oak Peninsula, then along the eastern shoreline of the Live Oak Peninsula past the town of Fulton, past Nine-Mile Point, past the town of Rockport to a point at the east end of Talley Island, including that part of Copano Bay within 1,000 feet of the causeway between Lamar Peninsula and Live Oak Peninsula.
    • No trotline or trotline components (EXCEPT Sail Lines), including lines and hooks, but excluding poles, may be left in or on coastal waters between the hours of 1 p.m. on Friday through 1 p.m. on Sunday of each week, except that attended sail lines are excluded from the restrictions imposed by this clause. In the event small craft advisories or higher marine weather advisories issued by the National Weather Service are in place at 8 a.m. on Friday, trotlines may remain in the water until 6 p.m. on Friday. If small craft advisories are in place at 1 p.m. on Friday, trotlines may remain in the water until Saturday. When small craft advisories are lifted by 8 a.m. on Saturday, trotlines must be removed by 6 p.m. on Saturday. When small craft advisories or higher marine weather advisories are still in place at 1 p.m. on Saturday, trotlines may remain in the water through 1 p.m. on Sunday. It is a violation to tend, bait, or harvest fish or any other aquatic life from trotlines during the period that trotline removal requirements are suspended under this provision for adverse weather conditions. For purposes of enforcement, the geographic area customarily covered by marine weather advisories will be delineated by department policy.

    Umbrella Net

    A non-metallic mesh net that is suspended horizontally in the water by multiple lines attached to a rigid frame.

    • May be used to take crabs and NONGAME fish only.
    • May not have within the frame an area that exceeds 16 square feet.

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