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These trotlines may not be used in state waters of the Gulf of Mexico or placed within 50 feet of another trotline or 200 feet from the Intracoastal Canal. There are also highly detailed restrictions from Aransas County that should be examined in the TPWD regulations guide for those interested in running a line in that area. There are also restrictions on time lines can be ran. No trotline may be left in or on coastal waters between the hours of 1 p.m. on Friday through 1 p.m. on Sunday of each week. There are allowances for bad weather conditions issued by the National Weather Service. Consult TPWD for more specific details. Red drum, speckled trout and sharks caught on a trotline may not be retained or possessed. Juglines are the second most popular form of unattended line and they are legal for us in freshwater only. A jugline is defined as a fishing line with five or less hooks tied to a free-floating device and they are legal only for catching nongame fish as well channel, blue and flathead cats. Like trotlines they are illegal in community fishing lakes and reservoirs or sections of rivers lying totally within state park boundaries. There are additional bans on various small lakes in the state. Juglines must have a gear tag attached and it is valid for 30 days after the date set out and must include the number of the permit to sell nongame fish taken from fresh water, if applicable. Properly marked buoys or floats qualify as valid gear tags. According to TPWD for non-commercial purposes, a jugline must be marked with a white, free-floating device. For commercial purposes, a jugline must be marked with an orange, free-floating device. As you can see there are lots of regulations pertaining to these unattended lines. Make sure and check out fishgame.com for the continuation of this article detailing sail and throw lines. As with any regulation of which you are not 100 percent sure, consult TPWD’s website or call them at 800-792-1112 and ask to speak to someone in law enforcement. It is much better to take the time to ask questions than to find yourself in court.

In freshwater, trotlines can only be used to catch non-game fish, channel catfish, blue catfish and flathead catfish.

& Wildlife Department (TPWD) are, “A non-metallic main fishing line with more than five hooks attached and with each end attached to a fixture.” In general trotlines may not be a mainline length exceeding 600 feet; hooks spaced less than 3 horizontal feet apart; metallic stakes; or the main fishing line and attached hooks and stagings placed above the water’s surface. Anglers can put no more than 50 hooks on a single trotline. In freshwater where trotlines are by far most commonly used, anglers can only use them to catch and retain nongame fish, channel catfish, blue catfish and flathead catfish. Anglers must affix a gear tag to the line. Gear tags are defined by TPWD as “constructed of material as durable as the device to which it is attached. The gear tag must be legible, contain the name and address of the person using the device and the date the device was set out.” Properly marked floats or buoys qualify as gear tags on freshwater trotlines. These must be attached within 3 feet of the first hook at each end of the trotline and are valid for 30 days after the date set out. Trotlines are illegal for use in a variety of small reservoirs in the state as decided by the governing authority and are not allowed in reservoirs or sections of rivers lying totally within the boundaries of a state park or community fishing lakes. Trotlines in saltwater are even more restrictive. In addition to the gear tag required for freshwater trotlines, those in saltwater require the placement of a saltwater trotline 34 |

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tag which must be purchased at TPWD law enforcement offices. The gear tag does not need to be dated but the trotline tag costs $5. It is required for each 300 feet or fraction thereof of all non-commercial trotlines (as well as sail lines) in Texas coastal waters. Those last four words, “In Texas coastal waters” is where anglers can get themselves into trouble. The coastal waters are not designated by what species you catch but where the state draws the saltwater line. For example, where I live on the Sabine River Interstate 10 is the boundary and while we catch bass, crappie and blue catfish from the bridge for several miles southward a saltwater trotline license would be required for use in that area. Saltwater trotlines must be marked with a yellow floating buoy not less than 6 inches in height, 6 inches in length, and 6 inches in width, bearing a two-inch wide stripe of contrasting color, attached to end fixtures. These buoys or floats may not be made of plastic bottles of any color or size according to TPWD. These lines may not be baited with anything other than natural bait. TPWD defines natural bait as a whole or cut-up portion of a fish or shellfish or a whole or cut-up portion of plant material in its natural state, provided that none of these may be altered beyond cutting into portions. Anglers can only use circle hooks with a gap from point to shank of no more than one half inch with the diameter of the circle not more than 5/8-inch. F i s h

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Photo: Matt williams

2/8/12 1:42 PM

March 2012  

THE Authority on Texas Fishing & Hunting Texas Fish & Game is the largest, oldest, and best outdoors resource of its kind in the nation. No...