In the state's ongoing effort to combat the spread of invasive zebra mussels, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission earlier this year approved expanding rules requiring anyone leaving or approaching public waters in 30 counties in Central and North Texas to drain their boats.
Anglers and boaters leaving or approaching public water will be required to take all reasonable steps to drain all water from their vessel, including live wells, bilges, motors, and any other receptacles or water intake systems. This applies to all types and sizes of boats, whether powered or not, personal watercraft, sailboats, or any other vessel used on public waters.
The new rule applies to all public waters in Archer, Bastrop, Bell, Bosque, Burnet, Clay, Comal, Comanche, Coryell, Eastland, Ellis, Erath, Falls, Fayette, Freestone, Hamilton, Hays, Henderson (west of Highway 19), Hill, Johnson, Leon, Limestone, Llano, McLennan, Navarro, Robertson, Somervell, Travis, Wichita, and Williamson.
Similar rules are in effect for 17 counties in North Texas - Collin, Cooke, Dallas, Denton, Fannin, Grayson, Hood, Jack, Kaufman, Montague, Palo Pinto, Parker, Rockwall, Stephens, Tarrant, Wise, and Young.
The Commission's actions also modified rules that affect participants in fishing tournaments holding off-site weigh-ins. The changes allow anglers participating in a fishing tournament confined to one water body during a single day to transport live fish in water from that water body to an identified weigh-in location, provided all water is drained from their vessels before leaving the weigh-in location. Anglers will be required to possess documentation provided by tournament organizers that would identify them as participants in a tournament.
The rules to add the 30 counties and the allowance for off-site tournament weigh-ins will take effect in late February or early March.
Anglers are allowed to transport and use commercially purchased live bait in water provided they have a receipt that identifies the source of the bait. Any live bait purchased from a location on or adjacent to a public water body that is transported in water from that water body could only be used as bait on that same water body.