Recreational Fisheries Resources

The Texas coast supports an extensive recreational fishing industry, involving fishing charters (fishing guides), private anglers, boaters, supporting businesses, and recreationally harvested seafood. With over 400,000 licensed recreational anglers, 1,500 licensed fishing guides, and hundreds of saltwater sportfishing tournaments held annually, this industry generates over $1 Billion in economic impacts in Texas each year. This includes purchases of vessels, fishing gear, tackle, and other equipment; fishing trip expenditures such as ice, bait, fuel, and charter fees; industry job revenues; and other related costs. 

Texas Sea Grant (TXSG) recognizes that recreational fishing industry participants face unique challenges and needs depending on their role in the fishery. We are working to address these challenges by offering extension activities, educational programs, and other resources to the recreational industry. Our goal is to support Texas recreational fisheries by building connections and engaging with fishery stakeholders along the coast and by bridging the gap between coastal communities and science. 

Based on feedback collected from the recreational fishing industry, TXSG seeks to help create a more knowledgeable, informed, and resilient fishing fleet by:

  • Training industry members in best practices and addressing knowledge gaps in on-the-water practices
  • Encouraging implementation of sustainable fishing techniques by anglers, captains, and crew
  • Supporting successful recreational fisheries operations by increasing resiliency through improved technology/harvest methods, safety training, assistance with disaster relief efforts, and implementation of best business practices
  • Encouraging younger generations to learn and participate in fishing and outdoor recreation
  • Collecting data to support the fishery and inform recreational fishery management and science
  • Addressing other emerging and ongoing industry issues as needed. 

On this page, you will find resources tailored to recreational anglers and fishing guides. We will continue to update this page with additional resources over time. 

To stay informed about fisheries news and events, be sure to subscribe to our quarterly newsletter, Get Hooked.

Best Practices

Fish Handling

  1. Follow all Texas Parks and Wildlife fishing regulations (https://tpwd.texas.gov/regulations/outdoor-annual/fishing/) and federal fishing regulations (Fish Rules mobile app: https://fishrulesapp.com/).
  2. Be careful around fish spines, teeth, and gill plates. These features are sharp and will cut your hands.
  3. Wet your hands before handling fish to avoid removing the fish’s protective mucus (slime) layer. 
  4. Hold fish horizontally, without squeezing them.
  5. Keep your fingers and hands away from the gills and eyes of the fish to avoid injuring the fish.
  6. If taking photographs of fish that you plan to release, have the camera ready before you land the fish. Photograph fish while they are still in the water, if possible, to reduce stress on the fish. 
  7. Remove hooks before releasing fish. Use a dehooking tool to minimize handling time.
  8. If the fish is hooked deeply, cut the fishing line as close to the hook as possible before releasing the fish.
  9. Release the fish back into the water headfirst as soon as possible. 
  10. Do not use a gaff on fish you plan to release.
  11. Keep only the fish that you intend to eat.
  12. Collect only the amount of bait that you need. Use only legal species and products as bait. 
  13. Dispose of used fishing line in monofilament recycling bins. See more information at the Monofilament Removal and Recycling Program.

Wildlife Encounters While Fishing

  1. Never feed bait, fish, chum, or other items to marine mammals, sea turtles, seabirds, or other wildlife; it is illegal to do so.
  2. Scan the area around you for seabirds before casting to keep them from crossing your line or stealing your bait. Reel in your line if any wildlife approaches while you are fishing.
  3. Keep your bait in closed containers and maintain a clean area around you, free of any fish remains.
  4. Use a weight to sink your bait.
  5. Don’t leave fishing poles unattended with bait dangling from the hook.
  6. Place your discarded fishing line in monofilament recycling bins. Place discarded fishing tackle and trash in trash cans.
  7. Report stranded marine mammals to the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network at 1-800-9-MAMMAL (1-800-962-6625).
  8. Report stranded, injured, dead, or hooked sea turtles to the hotline at 1-866-TURTLE-5 or look up local turtle stranding contacts in your area at https://www.nps.gov/pais/learn/nature/contact-info.htm#.

Fish Handling

  1. Slowly and gently reel the line in.  Use a dip net to contain the seabird if you have one available.
  2. Cover the bird’s head with a cloth to calm it down.
  3. Get control of the bird’s bill to avoid getting pecked by it.
  4. Cut off and remove any fishing line and carefully release the bird.
  5. If the bird is hooked, cut the fishing line approximately 8-10 inches above the hook, leave the hook in place, and contact a bird rehabilitation specialist (Wings Rescue Center: 361-205-0892). 

Additional Resources

Alexis Sabine

For More Information:

Alexis Sabine

Fisheries Specialist

asabine@tamu.edu