Texas fishermen will no longer be allowed to bowfish for alligator gar at night on the Trinity River without authorization.
Yesterday the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department officially approved a series of regulation changes that'll surely change the freshwater fishing landscape. However, it didn't move forward on the statewide ban nighttime bowfishing for alligator gar.
In a previous article, we touched on the significance of some of these proposals, particularly those affecting what's widely considered the best alligator gar fishery in the world.
In an effort to control the harvest rate of alligator gar in the Trinity River, TPWD officials originally proposed four regulation changes, three of which were approved in Wednesday's meeting.
The first included a 4-foot maximum length limit on the Trinity River, specifically between the I-30 bridge in Dallas and the I-10 bridge in Chambers County, including the East Fork up to the dam at Lake Ray Hubbard. Anglers and bowfishermen won't able harvest any fish over the limit, although catch-and-release is still be permitted.
"The TPW Commission has communicated to us that they would rather, out of an abundance of caution, act proactively to further limit harvest of older, mature alligator gar while populations are in relatively good shape," Craig Bonds, TPWD Inland Fisheries Director said in a February press release. "The 4-foot maximum would conserve these larger fish and redirect harvest towards younger, more abundant smaller fish. It also ensures there are plenty of large, recreationally valuable fish remaining for angler to catch and release, which attracts anglers from around the world."
The second approved regulation implements a random drawing system, which will select an unspecified number of anglers to legally harvest one gar over the 4-foot limit per year from the Trinity River. Additionally, only fishermen who receive authorization through the drawings system, may take an alligator gar with archery tackle between one half-hour after sunset and one half-hour before sunrise on the Trinity River.
"The drawing is similar to what other states like Arkansas are doing to offer an opportunity to keep one large gar while allowing the Department to manage annual harvest to avoid a population decline and depletion of the large alligator gar," Bonds said. "Alligator gar could be harvested by lawful means, including pole-and-line or by bow fishing equipment."
The final approved alligator gar fishing regulation--applying statewide--requires anglers and bowfishermen to report any harvest of an alligator gar with 24 hours, which they'd be able to do online or through an app.
All the noted changes will take effect Sept. 1.