Beginning Aug. 15, rod and reel anglers and bow fishermen can apply for a limited number of permits available to harvest trophy class alligator gar from the Trinity River under new regulations adopted last spring by the TPWD Commission.
Applications for 150 permits will be accepted through September, according to Ken Kurzawski, manager of regulations and information with TPWD’s inland fisheries division.
Each permit allows for the harvest of one alligator gar longer than 48 inches using rod and reel or bow and arrow. All harvests must be reported within 24 hours, using the My Texas Hunt Harvest app on a mobile device or the department website.
There is no fee for the permits. Applications may be submitted through the TPWD website.
Winners of permits will be selected by random computer drawing and notified by mid-October. The permits are not transferable and will be valid through Aug. 31, 2020, Kurzawski said.
The limited permits are part of a series of new alligator gar regulations that will go into effect Sept. 1. Other new gar regs include:
Prohibit the harvest of alligator gar longer than 48 inches on the stretch of Trinity River between Interstate 30 in Dallas and Interstate 10 without a permit. The new rule does not impact rod and reel catch and release fishing of large gar year-round on the Trinity River.
Persons who take an alligator gar from Texas’ public waters are required to report the harvest to the department within 24 hours of the take. Falcon Lake anglers are exempt from mandatory reporting.
Once plentiful across the South, native alligator gar populations in some states have undergone a rapid decline or been wiped out over the years due to heavy fishing pressure from commercial operations or careless anglers who consider it a “rough” fish with no sporting value.
Texas is believed to be one of the nation’s last strongholds for the prehistoric-looking fish with dagger-like teeth.
The fish can be found in rivers and reservoirs all over the state, but the Trinity is regarded as one of the best spots to catch big ones.
Adult alligator gar fish have been known to grow beyond 8 feet and to more than 300 pounds.
Current law limits anglers to one alligator gar per day on all Texas waters with the exception of Lake Falcon, where anglers are allowed five per day.
The restrictive limit was put in place statewide in 2009 to protect the fish from the possibility of overharvest that scientists feared could happen under a historic no-limit regulation that afforded them no protection at all.
Adding to the concerns are the facts the fish may not reach sexual maturity for 10 years and they require specific spawning conditions that don’t exist every year.
TPWD adopted the new regulations on the Trinity despite having no solid research data to suggest the river’s existing alligator gar population is in trouble or that a more restrictive regulation is necessary to sustain it.
More deadlines approaching
Several application deadlines are coming up in the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s drawn hunts public hunting program. Deadlines fall on the 1st and 15th of each month through October.
The department has 9,177 hunting permits available this year. There are 5,260 permits for use on state owned/managed properties, 1,370 USFS antlerless permits and 2,547 permits designated for national wildlife refuge hunts.
Application fees for most of the multi-day hunts range from $3-$10.
Successful applicants are usually required to pay a hunt fee of $80-$130, but some hunts, including Youth-Only hunts, require no application fees or hunt fees.
August 15 is the deadline for the archery deer, archery mule deer, exotics and javelina categories. Sept. 1 is the deadline for E-Postcard archery deer, national refuge archery deer, national refuge upland game, private lands antlerless/spike, private lands either sex and youth only gun deer either sex.
For a full list of other deadlines through Oct. 15, check out tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/hunt/public/public_hunt_drawing/deadlines.
FLW Tour opener set for ’Rayburn
Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) recently announced that the 2020 FLW Tour opener will be held Jan. 23-26 on Sam Rayburn Reservoir, east of Lufkin.
The event will headquarter out of Umphrey Family Pavilion in Brookeland.
The FLW Tour has visited ’Rayburn four previous times, including the 2019 season opener held there last January.
Kentucky’s Terry Bolton won it with a four-day total of 91 pounds, 3 ounces on 20 bass. He pocketed $125,000.