Bill pertaining to bass size limits in public comment

tate Rep. Dade Phelan of House District 21 addresses the Orange Chamber.

State Rep. Dade Phelan of House District 21, which includes all of Orange County and part of Jefferson County, addressed the Greater Orange Area Chamber of Commerce on Sept. 22, to say that he is taking measures to bring more business – and more bass fishing – to Southeast Texas with House Bill 1979.

Phelan filed a bill that would have reduced the minimum length for largemouth bass from 14 inches to 12 inches for high school and college fishing tournaments in February. In a news release in March, he revealed he agreed to put the bill on hold while the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department performed a study to thoroughly research the waters of the lower Sabine and Neches rivers and the Taylor/Big Hill/Hillebrandt Bayou system to give them an idea of the fishing conditions anglers face there.

“We agreed to stand down and not pass the bill,” Phelan explained. “They said, ‘Let us just do the research.’ We said fine. We knew that the data was going to back up what we had said all along.”

For the study this summer, says Phelan, TPWD collected over 600 fish. Of the 600-plus specimens collected, less than 7 percent of bass reached the legal limit, proving the brackish coastal waters of Southeast Texas provide a harsh environment for largemouth bass.

“They were blown away,” said Phelan.

He said TPWD is now conducting an online survey to gather angler input regarding lowering the 14 inch slot limit to 12 inches or possibly eliminating it altogether. The new rule will apply to all anglers, not just high school or college fishing tournaments participants.

“Right now, we’re taking public comment. That’s part of the process, an online survey. We really need everyone in this room and all your family and friends to go on this website and take the survey.”

To participate in the survey, visit