The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has issued a temporary closure to saltwater fishing along parts of the Texas coast to protect resources during freezing weather conditions.
The closure takes effect at 12:00 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 15 and extends through 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 16.
In addition to killing game fish in shallow bay waters, a hard freeze can also cause surviving fish to congregate in a few deeper areas where they become sluggish and easy to catch. Those are the areas the department has temporarily closed.
“The high mortality that a freeze can cause may deplete fish stocks for years,” said Robin Riechers, director of TPWD’s Coastal Fisheries Division. “Protection of the surviving fish during the few days when they are especially vulnerable to capture would likely shorten the time period for overall recovery of coastal species, especially spotted sea trout.”
Texas has about two million acres of bays and estuaries susceptible to freeze. There were three major freezes during the 1980s, including one in 1989 when the temperature at Brownsville dropped to 16 degrees and an estimated 11 million fish were killed in the freeze event. The last time there was a closure due to freezing temperatures was in January 2018. That freeze did not kill significant numbers of fish.
If you see any freeze related fish kills or large numbers of sluggish or cold-stunned fish call TPWD’s Law Enforcement Communications office at (281) 842-8100 or (512) 389-4848.