The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission recently adopted several new regulations pertaining to tagging and updating requirements on passive fishing gear, including trotlines, throw lines, limb lines, perch traps and other gear used to target catfish.

Law enforcement officials say the rules are aimed a reducing the number of derelict devices in public waters, while cutting down on the harmful, wasteful impacts and potentially dangerous consequences that can result when passive gear is left abandoned in freshwater rivers, reservoirs and backwater oxbows.

The following regulation changes go into effect Feb. 1:

Gear Tag Updates: The timeline for updating mandatory gear tags on passive fishing devices was reduced 10 days to six. The change was implemented to help reduce unintended fish mortalities that can occur when passive fishing devices are not inspected in a timely manner or are abandoned altogether.

TPWD studies have shown bare hooks on passive gear continue to catch fish and that mortalities resulting from “ghost fishing” can increase after four days.

TPWD had originally proposed a four-day timeline on updates but opted for six days after taking into consideration angler input gathered during a short public comment period.

Gear Tag Identification: Anglers may now identify ownership of passive devices by placing the 12-digit customer number from their fishing license on the gear tag instead of their name and physical address.

Float Marker: All passive fishing devices, including perch traps, must be equipped with floats at least 6 inches long and 3 inches wide to mark the location of the gear. Recreational anglers may use floats of any color except orange. Commercial fishermen will be required to use orange floats.

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