The Lone Star State is proposing stricter regulations on alligator gar and speckled trout.
Alligator gar have become a very popular fish in Texas for two reasons. The first is their dramatic appearance, as they're huge in size and sport a mouth full of razor-sharp teeth. The second is the opportunity for people to bowfish for them.
Bowfishing has become unbelievably big in recent years. As more anglers see the appeal of hunting for fish with a bow and arrow, more bowfishing gear hits the market and more photos and videos surface on the internet.
It's different than angling, though, not only in methodology, but also in the fish you can target. You can only shoot non-game fish with a bow, meaning fish like carp, snakehead, and any kind of gar are allowed to be struck by an arrow.
As a result, the sport has an especially large appeal to Texas, where bowfishermen have the ability to hunt and shoot one of the largest freshwater fish on the planet. Alligator gar can weigh upwards of 200 to 300 pounds.
Bowfishing has always been permitted at night, too, but a new proposal from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department could change that.
First and foremost, it proposed limiting the harvest of alligator gar in the Trinity River to fish 48 inches or smaller.
The proposed rule would only pertain to the stretch of Trinity River between the I-30 Bridge in Dallas County to the I-10 Bridge in Chambers County, widely considered the best alligator gar fishing destination in the country.
The idea behind this proposal is to protect adult, spawning-age fish without completely eliminating the ability for fishermen to harvest.
The nighttime bowfishing ban would be statewide, however, but wouldn't affect bowfishing for carp as well as buffalo and longnose gar.
The proposal would also require both anglers and bowfishermen to report any alligator gar catches, except those in the Falcon Reservoir, within 24 hours. Each report would detail the size of the fish, the date, the location of the catch, and the method used to take it.
It also looks to cut the daily bag limit of speckled trout in half on the upper coast, which includes the Galveston Bay system and the Sabine Lake Bay system. Anglers can currently keep 10, but would only be able to keep five under the new proposal.
With this move, TPWD hopes to increase spawning potential for trout, and ultimately boost trout numbers as a whole. A healthier population would better withstand some of the detrimental environmental conditions that come with a bay system.