Update (6:30 a.m., Tuesday, Dec. 27): The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will reopen saltwater fishing on the coast.
The closure started on Saturday, Dec. 24 to protect resources and wildlife during the freeze. Saltwater fishing areas on the Texas coast will reopen at 12:01 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 27.
People can still report freeze-related fish kills or large numbers of cold-stunned fish or sea turtles by calling TPWD’s Law Enforcement Communications office at 281-842-8100 or 512-389-4848 or by using the website iNaturalist. They can report stranded or cold-stunned sea turtles by calling 1-866-TURTLE-5.
“Contribute online your observation and photos of coastal aquatic life that you suspect might have been killed due to the cold. This will help give our biologist the most up-to-date information to investigate,” a news release states.
Original (12:57 p.m., Friday, Dec. 23): The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will temporarily close parts of the Texas coastline to saltwater fishing this weekend to protect resources during freezing weather conditions.
The closure starts at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 24. TPWD will notify the public when fishing may resume.
A hard freeze can kill game fish in shallow bay areas, according to TPWD. Surviving fish tend to congregate in a few deeper areas where they become sluggish and prone to capture.
These areas are the ones that TWPD is temporarily closing.
“The high mortality that a freeze can cause may deplete fish stocks for years,” said Robin Riechers, director of TPWD’s Coastal Fisheries Division. “Protection of the surviving fish during the few days when they are especially vulnerable to capture would likely shorten the time period for overall recovery of coastal species, especially spotted seatrout.”
People can report freeze-related fish kills or large numbers of sluggish or cold-stunned fish by contacting TPWD’s Law Enforcement Communications office at (281) 842-8100 or (512) 389-4848 and report local impacts of winter storms along the coast through the web-based/phone application iNaturalist.
Coastal Texans can also report stranded or cold-stunned sea turtles to 1-866-TURTLE-5.
- About two million acres of bays and estuaries in Texas are susceptible to freeze.
- There were three major freezes during the 1980s, including one in 1989 when the temperature in Brownsville dropped to 16 degrees Fahrenheit and an estimated 11 million fish were killed.
- During the last major freeze event in Feb. 2021, an estimated 3.8 million fish were killed on the Texas coast
You can check online for the list of closed areas.