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Texas Legislature passes hunting, fishing constitutional amendment

By Chester Moore, Jr.

The News outdoors writer

The Texas Legislature has passed a proposed constitutional amendment that will guarantee a citizen’s right to hunt and fish.

According to the Associated Press last week, the House passed it 111-1 with 20-plus abstentions. Senate approval came last month.

“Voters in November will be asked to modify the Texas Constitution to recognize “the right of the people to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife subject to laws that promote wildlife conservation.”

“Eighteen other states have approved similar measures, which supporters say come as some areas have shortened hunting seasons or limited what animals can be hunted. The amendment wouldn’t trump hunting rules or ordinances banning discharging guns within city limits.”

This will be an interesting public vote as very few people take part in some of these state elections. How will the public, with particular emphasis on a growing urban area, react to a state constitutional amendment on hunting?

We shall see.

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Commercial bay shrimpers will no longer have to cull small shrimp during the fall season, thanks to regulation changes adopted last week by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.

“The elimination of a 50 heads on shrimp per pound count/size requirement for commercial bay shrimpers in inside waters during the fall season (Aug. 15-Oct. 31) should help reduce resource waste that occurs from undersized shrimp mortality during the culling process.”

“The commission also clarified reference to the effective date of federal rules stipulating turtle excluder device (TEDs) requirements and corrected an outdated statement regarding the waters in which TEDs are required.”

“In addition, the commission approved changes to commercial oyster fishing regulations requiring dead oyster shell greater than a certain size to be returned to the reef at the time of harvest and be counted as an undersized oyster, and amended the definition of “sack of oysters” to include dead oyster shell greater than 3/4 inch.”

TPWD reported many of the state’s oyster reefs have been depleted and hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of cultch (material, such as oyster shell, that furnishes a place for larval oysters to attach and grow to maturity) have been removed from the state’s public oyster reefs because of oyster dredging.

“The majority of the cultch removed from public reefs is not recovered. The continuing removal of shell from oyster habitat poses a threat to the viability of the state’s oyster fishery, because a reduction in the cultch juvenile oysters depend on for growth results in less recruitment and, potentially, fewer legal-sized oysters.”

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The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission has approved a 690-acre land acquisition that increases the size of Mustang Island State Park near Corpus Christi to 4,783 acres. In addition, the commission agreed to accept a 100-acre conservation easement donation adjacent to the park.

“Both land actions result from the settlement of a pollution mitigation case brought in 2005 against Asarco and Encycle, which operated smelting and waste management facilities that discharged pollutants into upper Corpus Christi Bay for more than 60 years.”

TPWD noted, Mustang Island State Park opened to the public in 1979. The park straddles Mustang Island, with more than five miles of beach fronting on the Gulf of Mexico, and the back side of the park extending to the shores of Corpus Christi Bay.

“Mustang Island has developed rapidly in recent years, and few opportunities remain to enlarge the popular state park for visitors and wildlife. The largest opportunity was the 690-acre property known as the Facey Tract on the north end of the park running from Highway 361 to Corpus Christi Bay, with a half mile of boundary in common with the park.”

For more information about Mustang Island State Park can be found online at http://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/mustang-island.

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We get lots of requests for bank fishing locations. This week I thought we share a few from here on the Upper Coast.

Causeway Area

Location: At Pleasure Island on SH 82 at the causeway bridge and Walter Umphrey Pier.

Species: Flounder

Lure/Baits: Live mud minnows, finger mullet and jigs tipped with shrimp

Best Season/Time: Fall and Spring on outgoing and incoming times respectively.

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Sea Rim State Park

Location: Off of Highway 87 past Sabine Pass

Species: Redfish

Lure/Baits: Live croaker, mullet or whole crab

Best Season/Time: On high tides during the summer and fall.

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Lower Neches Wildlife Management Area (West Side)

Location: Highway 87 between Bridge City and Port Arthur

Species: Redfish

Lure/Baits: Cut and live mullet, dead shrimp

Best Season/Times: Summer and fall on outgoing tides

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Fishing Pier (Galveston Area)

Location: CR 476 and CR 227 at Bastrop Bayou

Species: Redfish, trout

Lure/Baits: Finger mullet, cut bait, crab

Best Season/Times: First couple of hours of outing and incoming tides year-round.

(To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at chester@kingdomzoo.com. You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online atwww.klvi.com.)