After a period of public comments, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission approved changes to trotline regulations during its November meeting.
Under the new rules, which go into effect February 1, 2020, anglers using trotlines or similar passive fishing gear, must check the equipment every six days instead of the current 10 days.
Originally, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department officials had recommended the gear inspections, along with tag validations, should happen every four days. But the commission, after taking public comments, adopted the six-day requirement.
TPWD officials wanted to reduce the period between checks of passive gear because scientific research by the department showed that fish deaths can increase after four days.
Requiring the gear tag and accompanying gear to be checked more frequently should reduce unintended mortalities.
“Current regulations do not require the removal of the fishing device from the water when the date period on the gear tags needs to be updated. Reducing the number of days from 10 to six will not change that, but it does require the angler check the gear and retain or release any resource that is caught,” said Jarret Barker, TPWD assistant commander of fisheries enforcement. “The device can remain in the water while the gear tag is updated.”
Anglers can also use their 12-digit customer number from their fishing license instead of their address for identification purposes on the fishing gear.
“This allows some anonymity so someone can set out their gear without disclosing their personal information to other anglers while still allowing game wardens to identify the gear’s owner by using their customer number,” Barker said.
Also approved was the requirement that minnow traps, throwlines, and trotlines have floats attached to aid in distinguishing active fishing gear from abandoned fishing gear and litter. All floats used on juglines, minnow traps, throwlines, and trotlines must be at least 6 inches in length and not less than 3 inches in width. For these four types of gear, floats for recreational anglers can be any color other than orange, while commercial fishing license holders will be required to use orange-colored floats.