Louisiana and Texas Working to Standardize Boundary Fishing Regulations
ATHENS—A cooperative effort between the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) to standardize fishing regulations on waters shared by the two states is nearing fruition.
Waters affected by the proposed agreement include Toledo Bend Reservoir, Caddo Lake and the Sabine River from Toledo Bend dam downstream to the Interstate 10 bridge. The proposal would also redefine the Toledo Bend Reservoir boundary from the U.S. Highway 84 bridge upstream to where the river and the state line diverge.
“This agreement was achieved through diligent effort and amiable cooperation between members of our respective departments,” said Ross Melinchuk, TPWD’s deputy executive director for natural resources. “I believe this compromise will provide meaningful benefits to recreational anglers, enforcement staff and fisheries resources in both states as well as establish a solid foundation upon which to build future cooperative efforts.”
Differing regulations in the two states have long posed problems for anglers. The line between the two states follows the old Sabine River channel down through the middle of Toledo Bend and passes through Caddo Lake as well. An angler with a legal Louisiana catch who drifted across the line into Texas could be cited for violation of Texas regulations.
Texas and Louisiana inland fisheries staff began talks in mid-2010 to develop a suite of standardized regulations acceptable to anglers in both states. In general the current Louisiana length and bag limits are more liberal than the Texas regulations. The compromise regulation proposals generally call for length limits closer to the current Texas regulations while allowing bag limits nearer the current Louisiana regulations.
The proposed compromise regulations for Toledo Bend affect channel, blue and flathead catfish and black and white crappie. Proposed regulations for Caddo Lake and the Sabine River deal with those species plus white, yellow, largemouth and spotted bass. Regulations governing the harvest of black basses, striped bass and white bass on Toledo Bend were standardized previously.
“The original goal of regulation standardization was specific to Toledo Bend Reservoir, but we all recognized an opportunity to broaden our scope and incorporate Caddo Lake and portions of the Sabine River,” said Gary Saul, director of TPWD’s Inland Fisheries Division. “During this process we utilized a mixture of available science and old-fashioned compromise to seek common ground. Agency personnel from both states brought a cooperative spirit to the negotiating table. The anglers we serve deserve nothing less than a complete resolution to this issue.”
Public hearings on the proposed regulations have been completed in Texas. The public can still view and comment on the proposed regulations online until March 30, 2011, at http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/business/feedback/public_comment/proposals/201103_fish_hunt_proclamation.phtml. Information for Louisiana anglers can be found at http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/proposedregulations.
Public response to regulation proposals and final recommendations by TPWD Inland Fisheries staff will be presented to the TPWD Commission for approval on March 31, 2011. The LDWF is operating on a parallel track for gathering public comment and presenting their findings to their Commission. Target date for implementation of the new regulations in both states is September 1, 2011.