When Is The Fishing Season In Texas And Other States?

Are you eyeing to fish in Texas, but you don’t know when the fishing season commences or ends? Well, your answers are here!

Texas’s fishing season is all year round, but some legal restrictions may prevent you from catching various species. The best time to fish in Texas is determined by the species you intend to catch.

Fishing season has two implications; The best time to fish and, legal period to fish. Both factors are essential to get a good catch and avoid getting on the wrong side of the law. There are rules guiding fishing in various states, and in Texas, Wildlife and Parks department sets fishing seasons. This article will capture Texas and other states’ fishing seasons from both perspectives.

From a legal perspective, provided one has a license and certifications for the type of water you are anticipating to fish in, you are good to go. Certain restrictions are executed on some water activities and fish species. One should also be aware of fishing regulations specified for the particular year of fishing. Using the rules effected from September 1, 2019, to August 2020, let us cover some fishing season’s directions.

Important Things To Know

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department imposes limitations on most saltwater and freshwater fish species. Let us define a few essential terms that will help us understand these limitations:

1. Daily bag limit is the maximum number of wildlife species one takes in a day. A day begins at midnight and ends in 24 hours. 

2. Length limits (Minimum and maximum)-. Most fish species have minimum fish lengths, while some have maximum length limits.  The law prevents you from catching too young and too old fish. These limits help to keep the fish population under control. 

Saltwater Fishing Limitations

Plenty of saltwater fish species have restrictions on them. In this post, we’ll focus on limitations that are dependent on the time of year. If you want more insight on the other restrictions, they are available on the texas parks and wildlife departments website.

1. Mullet-  in October, November, December, and January, catching mullet that is longer than 12 inches is not allowed

2. Flounder-  the bag limit between November and mid-December is only two fish, while the limit on other days is five fish. In the month of November, you can only catch flounder fish by pole and line method, but any legal means are allowed between 1-14 December.

3. Alligator Gar- the statewide daily bag limit for alligator garfish is one at any time of the year. You are only allowed one alligator gar that’s less than 48 inches long at trinity river. However, at Falcon lake, the daily bag limit for this species is five 

Limitations For Freshwater Fishing

There are no special season-based restrictions regarding freshwater fish species. The only thing to have in mind is the alligator agar rules discussed earlier. 

Shrimping Seasons In Outside Waters

Shrimping Seasons In Outside Waters

Texas Parks & Wildlife Department has defined seasons for shrimping outside waters and bay areas. Here are the shrimping seasons in outside waters:

Northern Zone 

Beyond five nautical miles, the season is open from July 16 to November 30 and December 1 to May 15. The whole of June and the first two weeks of July, the shrimping season is closed in this zone.

 Inside five nautical miles, the season open from February 16 to May 15 and from July 16 to November 30. From December 1 to February 15, the shrimping season is closed for winter. Shrimping hours range between 30minutes before sunrise and 30 minutes after sunset.

Southern Zone

Beyond five nautical miles, the shrimping season is open all year round except June- mid-July.

Inside five nautical miles, the closed season is June to mid-July and December to mid-February due to the winter season. The hours are the same as the northern zone: 3 minutes before sunrise and 30 minutes after sunset.

The summer-closed season is between mid-may to mid-July inside nine nautical miles. The national marine fisheries service may also close the exclusive economic zones when Texas waters are closed.

Shrimping Seasons In Bays 

Bait shrimping in major bays and bait bays season is open throughout the year, with hours ranging 30 minutes before sunrise and 30 minutes before sunset. 

For shrimping purposes other than bait, the season is open from May 15 to July 15 and August 15 to November 30. 

When Is The Best Time To Fish In Texas? 

When Is The Best Time To Fish In Texas

One can fish any time of the year except for the limitations discussed above. Nevertheless, for a maximum catch, one should fish at the right time. Specific fish species are at their peak during certain months. According to Game and Fish Magazine, here is the summary of what you expect each month at particular water bodies.

Month Fish Species Water Body
JanuarySpeckled trout East Matagorda Bay
FebruaryWhite bassNueces River
March White bassSabine River
AprilSpeckled troutBaffin Bay
MayBream Toledo Bend 
June RedfishPort O’Connor
JulySpeckled troutSabine Jetties
AugustRedfishPort O’Connor Jetties
SeptemberCrappies Sam Rayburn
October King Mackerel Port Mansfield Offshore
NovemberRedfishSabine Lake
DecemberSpeckled troutLaguna Madre 

The data above suggests that one should have a catch no matter the time and place you are in Texas. At least no month goes without a catch, but water temperatures may also affect fish catch. 

Many hot days make fish sluggish, and during winter, shallow temperatures are experienced, and fish cannot control their body temperature, which affects bodily functions. Too high or too low water temperature makes fish less active because of low oxygen levels. To find the best fishing times, avoid extreme temperatures.

Where Can I Fish Without A License In Texas? 

A fishing license is mandatory in Texas, but the state has a free fishing day for all citizens in any public waterbody. Visitors to Texas State Parks and those fishing from the banks within the parks can fish without a  license. Every first Saturday of June every year, all Texans are allowed to fish without permits. During the free fishing day, anglers share their skills and learn the importance of licenses to protect fish species. 

Top Five Fishing States In The U.S And Their Fishing Seasons

Now that you know all there is to know about Texas’s fishing seasons let’s dive into other states’ fishing seasons. This section aims to equip you with the necessary information to visit a different state to fish. Here’s a summary of the five most popular fishing states for easy comparison.

State Water TypeFish SpeciesFishing Season
FloridaSaltwaterSnapper Pelagics All year round
Grouper Atlantic: closed January 1-April 30Gulf: open all year round
Reef fish See myFWC.com for updates
Coastal speciesOpen all year round except spotted sea trout, which is closed in Feb, Nov, and dec
MichiganAll waters open for fishingAll speciesCatch and release open entire year
Largemouth and smallmouth bassMay 23-dec 31
MuskellungeJune 6- march 15
Salmon and troutOpen entire year on Great Lakes, Lake St. Clair, St. Marys River,St.Clair and Detroit Rivers
Catfish, smelt, white bass, and other speciesOpen entire year
MinnesotaLakes Stream trout5/15/21 – 10/31/21
Statewide inland watersLake trout01/16/21 – 03/31/21 and 05/15/21 – 09/30/21
Northeastern MinnesotaSmallmouth and largemouth bass05/15/21 – 02/27/22
Pennsylvania Lakes Bass(largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted)All year round but closed between April 17- June 11
AlaskaInland lakes and streamsHalibutMay to September
King salmonMid-may to July
Silver salmonJuly to September
Red salmonMid-June to mid-august

Final Word 

Fishing seasons vary from state to state, depending on the regulations and location. The fishing seasons greatly impact your chances of catching fish. Therefore, it is necessary to research before you go fishing to find the best seasons depending on the species you are eyeing and the state’s laws.

In Texas, the main factor is the fish species you want to catch and some regulations. If you’re going to try fishing once, you can choose to wait for the free fishing day. But if fishing is a hobby you hope to pursue in the long term, understanding the seasons and regulations will come in handy. We hope this information gives you a jumpstart to fishing in Texas and trying other states. For more information, look up the Texas parks and wildlife departments website. Happy angling! 

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