Fishing and hunting licenses go on sale in Texas August 15, and hunters and anglers will be lining up to buy. Many will also pick up a copy of the latest Texas and Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) publication summarizing Texas hunting and fishing regulations, the Outdoor Annual.
Few people probably understand how and why all the regulations contained in the Outdoor Annual came to be. Some would probably prefer to have fewer regulations.
But there are science-based reasons for the regulations, said Greg Binion, a TPWD Inland Fisheries biologist stationed in Mathis. “Proper management of fisheries resources is critical in meeting angler desires and expectations. While angler desires and expectations vary, one fisheries management objective at TPWD remains the same: to provide a diversity of high quality fisheries and world-class fishing opportunities. Fisheries management emphasizes providing protection to fishery resources so that sustainable utilization of fish populations can be realized. This often requires a delicate balance of fish, ecosystem, watershed, and stakeholder needs.”
At the basis of fisheries management is data which forms the cornerstone for management decisions and recommendations at TPWD. Every spring and fall, TPWD fisheries biologists use different collection gears in various water bodies throughout the state in efforts to monitor the status of important sport fish populations.
“These survey data provide biologists with valuable insight into fish population dynamics such as recruitment (i.e. reproductive success), growth, and mortality,” Binion said. “Surveys help TPWD staff index relative abundance, determine if sport fish populations are stable and balanced, verify if sufficient forage is present and typically reveal if management or regulatory action is needed to better manage our fishery resources.”
Biologists also use other data collection methods such as creel surveys (angler interviews) to gauge angler success by gaining insight into angler effort, catch, and harvest lending valuable information which helps in more sound management of our fisheries resources.
TPWD Inland Fisheries biologists actively manage 17 sport fish species in inland waters including; all black bass (largemouth, smallmouth, spotted, Guadalupe), striped and hybrid striped bass, white bass, channel catfish, blue catfish, flathead catfish, white and black crappie, saugeye, rainbow trout, walleye, red drum, and alligator gar. Consult the 2011-2012 Texas Parks and Wildlife Outdoor Annual for a complete list of daily bag and size limits.
“Each and every one of us has a stake in the management and conservation of our state’s abundant fisheries resources,” Binion said. “While we as TPWD employees strive to enhance and preserve our natural resources, the hunters and anglers of Texas also serve as stewards of conservation by participating in creel and harvest surveys, complying with regulations and helping keep our lands and waters clean. We must all work together to ensure the natural resources of Texas are conserved for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.”
And there’s one more role anglers play in the management of Texas fisheries: They pay for it through their purchases of fishing licenses and gear. “Anglers fund the work we do,” said Dave Terre, TPWD’s chief of research and management. “Purchasing a fishing license is critical to sustaining our fisheries management programs and the great fishing that results. So buy a license, and thank you!”
The Outdoor Annual is available wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold and may also be viewed online at http://txoutdoorannual.com/.