TPWD regs centered on Sabine River bass, East Texas deer

TPWD regs centered on Sabine River bass, East Texas deer

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is considering new regulations that will affect hunting and fishing here in East and Southeast Texas counties. One of those regs is aimed at creating additional deer hunting opportunities in East Texas.

Due to a lack of demand, the department is seeking to eliminate the antlerless and spike-buck control permit. TPWD staffers are also proposing to create a definition of “unbranched antlered deer” for the purpose of identifying a legal buck across seasons and to alleviate confusion among hunters. TPWD also seeks to replace the “Special Late Antlerless and Spike-Buck Season” with a “Special Late Season” to accommodate the inclusion of “unbranched antlered deer” in the bag limit. 

Something that hunters on U.S. Forest Service lands will like is a proposal to allow the take of antlerless deer without a permit during youth-only seasons. In addition, the department is looking to implement additional “doe days” in 23 counties, and allow a muzzleloader-only open season in 32 additional counties.

Additional details on these proposals will be published in the Texas Register and available for review later this month in narrated presentations to be archived on TPWD’s website.

TPWD will be taking public comment on the proposed changes at its March 24 public hearing in Austin. Comments on the proposed rules may be submitted by phone or e-mail to Robert Macdonald (512) 389-4775; e-mail robert [dot] macdonald [at] tpwd [dot] texas [dot] gov.

Comments may also be submitted through TPWD’s website once the proposals have been published in the Texas Register.

Sabine River bass fishing

TPWD is considering proposals to adjust bass fishing regulations on the Sabine River, and clarify length limits on black drum and amberjack.

Some of the proposed changes to the 2016-17 statewide recreational fishing regulations in East Texas include modifying harvest regulations for largemouth bass on the Sabine River in Newton and Orange counties, and in Chambers, Galveston, Jefferson and Orange counties. This proposal would reduce the minimum length limit for largemouth bass to 12 inches but retain the current five-fish daily bag limit.

The department is setting maximum size limit for black drum at 30 inches, and minimum total length limit on amberjack at 38 inches to align with new federal regulations that utilize a different measurement guideline.

The department is also seeking to clarify that snagging or foul hooking any fish using pole-and-line in fresh and salt water is prohibited.

Comments on the proposed black drum and amberjack rules may be submitted by phone or e-mail to Jeremy Leitz (512) 389-4333; e-mail jeremy [dot] leitz [at] tpwd [dot] texas [dot] gov.

Comments on the proposed bass rules may be submitted by phone or e-mail to Ken Kurzawski (512) 389-4591; e-mail ken [dot] kurzawski [at] tpwd [dot] texas [dot] gov.

Comments may also be submitted at in February once the proposals have been published in the Texas Register as well as at the public meeting to be held March 2 at 7 p.m., in Beaumont at the Jefferson County Courthouse.

Crab trap cleanup on Sabine Lake

For more than a decade, countless volunteers have spent 10 days each February searching Texas bays for abandoned crab traps left to foul shrimpers’ nets, snag anglers’ lines and create unsightly views. To date, volunteers have hauled off more than 31,000 traps. This year, volunteers will clean up the crab traps from Feb. 19-28.

On Sabine Lake, the local TPWD coordinator is Carey Gelpi; call (409) 983-1104, ext. 222. A facilitated drop-off site is at the Mesquite Point Boat Ramp next to Walter Umphrey State Park. A non-facilitated trap drop off site is the Pleasure Island marina boat ramp.

To facilitate volunteer trap removal efforts this year, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will provide trap drop-off locations in each major bay system along the coast from 8 a.m. – noon Saturday, Feb. 20, weather permitting. Dumpsters or collection areas marked with banners will also be available at all sites to receive traps for the duration of the closure. Volunteers may focus their efforts on Feb. 20 or work at their own pace anytime during the closure, but traps cannot be removed by anyone other than a game warden or the device’s legal owner prior to Feb. 19 or after Feb. 28.

To participate, volunteers can pick up free tarps, gloves, trap hooks and additional information at their local TPWD Coastal Fisheries field stations. Volunteers can also sign up at by using keyword search “crab.” TPWD requests volunteer’s record and submit information about the number of traps they collect and document any sightings of diamondback terrapins.

During this 10-day period, coastal waters will be closed to crabbing with wire mesh crab traps. All other legal means of crabbing will not be affected.

Any traps left in bays during the closure period — including traps tied to docks — will be assumed abandoned and considered litter under state law. This allows volunteers to legally remove any crab traps they find.

The Coastal Conservation Association Texas, Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program, Galveston Bay Foundation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are providing continued support to the crab trap removal program.

For more information, contact your local TPWD Coastal Fisheries office or Zack Thomas at TPWD Headquarters by calling (512) 389-8448 or crabtrap [at] tpwd [dot] texas [dot] gov.