MOORE OUTDOORS: State eyes changes on shares, grouper and shad regs

Published 3:46 pm Saturday, January 7, 2017

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s (TPWD) Coastal Fisheries Division is scoping regulation changes for hammerhead sharks, black grouper, Nassau grouper, and gag grouper.

They will host three public meetings (two in South Texas) with the closest at Dickinson Jan. 10. The meeting will be held 6 p.m at TPWD Dickinson Lab, 1502 FM 517 East in Dickinson.

Proposed changes according to TPWD include increasing the great hammerhead shark minimum size limit to 99 inches; establishing a 24-inch minimum size limit and a four-fish per day bag limit for black grouper; establishing a bag limit of catch and release only for Nassau grouper; and increasing the minimum size limit to 24 inches for gag grouper.

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“The proposed changes would alter the current size and possession limits for those species to be consistent with federal regulations. This will reduce confusion for anglers fishing in state and federal waters and enhance compliance, administration and enforcement,” TPWD said.

Comments can be sent to

TPWD is also seeking public comment on proposed changes to the regulations on the possession and sale of gizzard and threadfin shad ollected from public waters, which would require persons who collect or possess shad in excess of certain limits to obtain a permit.

“TPWD currently issues permits for the sale of nongame fishes taken from public waters, which includes gizzard and threadfin shad sold as live, frozen, or prepared bait. Some permittees also collect live shad from public reservoirs for sale or as part of management services provided to private pond owners to increase the abundance of prey fishes in a pond and improve the growth and size of fish such as largemouth bass.”

Shad are also collected by private landowners to stock as prey in their private lakes. These persons are currently not required to obtain a permit because no sale is involved, but the proposed changes would require persons who use containers exceeding 82 quarts in volume for collection and possession of shad from public fresh waters to obtain a $60 permit to possess or sell nongame fish.”

Under the new proposal, a permit would continue to be required if the shad collected are sold or exchanged for anything of value regardless of the container size used, but no permit would be required if the shad are used only as bait on the waterbody where they were collected, or if a licensed fishing guide possesses and furnishes the shad as bait to customers as part of the guide’s services.

Ken Kurzawski, TPWD Inland Fisheries Director of Information and Regulations said on some water bodies shad collections is becoming substantial.

Comments on the shad issue may be made online at; by phone to Ken Kurzawski at (512) 389-4591, email to; or in person during the TPWD Commission meeting on Jan. 26 at 9 a.m. at 4200 Smith School Road, Austin.

A reader recently asked why local garfish rarely bite in the winter.

I am not sure but have noticed the same thing. Growing up in Orange, my family and I fished for alligator garfish everywhere from Pleasure Island to Cow Bayou and usually stopped catching them in late October.

I caught one on a trotline once in January, and my Dad caught one about the same time near the Port of Orange. Other than that I have never caught an alligator gar in winter.

An interesting observation is that a number of anglers have reported seeing big gar in the marshes on the Louisiana shoreline lying essentially dormant and in a couple of cases right near speckled trout. The gar weren’t eating on the trout but lying with them. It may sound strange, but I know this phenomenon happens.

Perhaps it is a glimpse into a winter state these huge and mysterious fish go into as cool temperatures approach.

To contact Chester Moore, email him at You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at