Freeze-Triggered Coastal Fishing Ban Extended to Monday
Concerned about potential pillaging of speckled trout, redfish and other coastal game fish crowded into harbors, channels and other deep-water sanctuaries to escape frigid temperatures, Texas state fisheries officials extended until noon, Monday, a closure of some areas along the coast to all fishing.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department had imposed the closure, which affects 21 locations along the coast, Wednesday when it became obvious the days-long siege of freezing or near freezing temperatures would drop inshore water temperatures to levels that would trigger fish to seek refuge in deeper, more insulated waters.
The ban had been set to expire at noon, Saturday.
"This freeze event has lasted longer than was projected earlier in the week and temperatures are not expected to get much above freezing today," said Robin Riechers, TPWD coastal fisheries division director. "We realize an extension through the weekend may inconvenience some anglers and we appreciate their patience and cooperation, but our primary concern is to give fish holding in those thermal refuges a chance to recover."
The fishing closure is limited to only the designated cold-water refuge areas. All other areas are open to recreational fishing.
TPWD officials noted that while fishing continues to be allowed in areas not under the closure order, fish may be taken only by legal means such as catching them on a rod-and-reel. It is illegal to pick up and retain cold-stunned or dead fish, either by hand or with nets.
Agency officials requested the public report any illegal fishing activity in closed areas or taking fish by illegal means to local game wardens or by calling the agency's Operation Game Thief tip line, 800-792-4263.
TPWD also asked anglers and others who observe what they believe are freeze-related fish kills or large numbers of sluggish, cold-stunned fish to report the event by contacting the agency's Law Enforcement Communications offices at 281-842-8100 or 512-389-4848.
Many Texas coastal marine species begin having physical problems when water temperature drops below about 45 degrees. Surface water temperature along much of the Texas coast has plunged below that level, with some shallow-water areas along the middle coast seeing water temperatures below 40 degrees.
Through late afternoon on Friday, reports of scattered fish kills, most of them involving relatively small numbers of fish, had come from the length of the Texas coast. Most of those reports came from the shallow-water areas along the middle and lower coast, where deep-water refuge is less available than along the upper coast.
The lingering cold spell has triggered major concern for the sea turtle population in Texas' inshore waters. The state's near-shore and inshore waters hold increasing numbers of sea turtles, mostly juvenile green sea turtles.
As of late Friday afternoon, wildlife and fisheries staff and volunteers have collected more that 500 cold-stunned green sea turtles, most of them from the lower Laguna Madre.
Coastal Areas Closed To Fishing During Freeze Conditions:
Effective Noon, Feb. 2, 2011 through Noon, Feb. 7, 2011.
Aransas Pass, City by the Sea - All waters and canals of the City by the Sea subdivision west of the GIWW and a line beginning at a point on the entryway seawall (27° 57.08" N; 97° 06.05" W) extending across the entrance to a point (27° 57.04" N; 97° 06.06" W).
Fulton, The Raquetball - All waters and channels of the Racquetball Club development Club west of line beginning at a point on the entryway seawall (28° 05.94" N; 97° 01.73" W) extending across the entrance to a point (28° 05.96" N; 97° 01.73" W).
Fulton, Kon Tiki - All waters and canals of the Kon Tiki development west of a line beginning at a point on the entryway seawall adjacent to the end of the fishing pier (28° 06.04" N; 97° 01.49" W) extending across the entrance to a point (28° 05.99" N; 97° 01.49" W).
Rockport, Bahia Bay - All waters and canals of the Bahia Bay subdivision west of the GIWW and a line beginning at a point on the entryway seawall (27° 57.63" N; 97° 05.66" W) extending across the entrance to a point (27° 58.65" N; 97° 05.66" W).
Rockport, Cove Harbor - Entire harbor west of the GIWW and a line beginning at a point on the entryway seawall (27° 59.37" N; 97° 04.38" W) extending across the entrance to a point (27° 59.42" N; 97° 04.35" W).
Rockport, La Buena Vida - All waters and canals of the La Buena Vida subdivision west of the GIWW and a line beginning at a point on the entryway seawall (27° 57.31" N; 97° 05.89" W) extending across the entrance to a point (27° 58.36" N; 97° 05.89" W).
Rockport, Little Bay - All waters of Little Bay and connected waters west of Nine Mile Point on Key Allegro (28° 01.98" N; 97° 01.52" W), including Blevins Channel south of the entryway seawall (28° 03.05" N; 97° 01.87" W), Leggett Channel west of the entryway seawall (28° 01.80" N; 97° 01.84" W) and all canals within the Key Allegro and Harbor Oaks subdivisions.
Rockport, Palm Harbor - All waters and canals of the Palm Harbor subdivision west of the GIWW and a line beginning at a point on the entryway seawall (27° 58.05" N; 97° 05.36" W) extending across the entrance to a point (27° 58.03" N; 97° 05.36" W).
Rockport, Rockport Harbor - Entire harbor north of the entryway seawall and a line beginning on the entryway seawall (28° 01.19" N; 97° 02.89" W) extending across the entrance to a point (28° 01.19" N; 97° 03.00" W).
Lamar, Sea Gun Marina - Entire harbor north of the entryway seawall and a line beginning Harbor at a point on the entryway seawall (28° 08.06" N; 97° 00.40" W) extending across the entrance to a point (28° 08.11" N; 97° 00.42" W).
Port O'Connor, Army Hole - The enclosed waters between the Matagorda Island State Park docks and Pringle Lake.
Brownsville - Brazos Santiago Pass. South Jetty, Gulf of Mexico from and including the Brazos Santiago Pass south jetty along the beach for one half statute mile and out from shore for 1,000 yards.
Port Isabel - Point Isabel area from shore out to a line from the high point of the Queen Isabella Memorial Causeway on the northwest and the end of the old causeway on the southeast including the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway bounded by the Queen Isabella Memorial Causeway on the north and the Port Isabel Swing Bridge on the south. Does not include the adjacent canal in Port Isabel.
Dickinson, Texas City, Moses Lake – From Moses Lake to the tide gate, to include the navigational channel up to the northern shoreline of Dollar Bay (area corresponds to 29° 26.00" N to 29° 27.00" N). Dollar Bay and Moses Bayou are not included.
Galveston, Offats Bayou - All of Offats Bayou east of Marker 22.
Matagorda - Entire harbor from the entrance to the Gulf ICWW.
Palacios, Shrimp Basin - Entire shrimp basin from the entrance to Matagorda Bay, including all turning basins.
Corpus Christi, Padre Island - The area bounded on the north by Packery Channel, on the subdivision west by the ICWW and on the south by a line drawn due east from the intersection of the New Humble Channel and the ICWW to the mainland (along 27° 35.25" N).
Bridge City, Entergy Outfall - Entire canal, from the mouth of the canal at the Neches River Canal to the power plant.
San Patricio County:
Aransas Pass, Conn Brown - Entire harbor north and west of the GIWW and a line beginning from the Harbor at a point on the entryway seawall (27° 53.96" N; 97° 08.09" W) extending across the entrance to a point (27° 53.82" N; 97° 08.13" W).
Port Mansfield - Entire harbor from the corners of the bulkheads on either side of Harbor to the harbor mouth.