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When it comes to enjoying the abundant fishing opportunities in Rockport, Texas, it's essential to familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations that govern recreational fishing. These regulations are in place to ensure the sustainability of fish populations, protect the marine ecosystem, and maintain a balance between fishing and conservation. In this blog, we'll guide you through the key fishing rules and regulations in Rockport.

Fish Caught Near Rockport, Texas

Licensing Requirements in Rockport, TX

Before casting your line in Rockport's waters, it's crucial to obtain the necessary fishing license. Texas requires anglers aged 17 and older to possess a valid fishing license, which can be obtained online through the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) website or at authorized retailers. Various types of licenses are available, including annual and one-day options for both residents and non-residents. Additionally, there are special licenses for seniors and military personnel. Keep your fishing license with you at all times while fishing to avoid any legal issues.

Bag and Size Limits in Rockport, TX

To protect fish populations and ensure sustainable fishing, bag and size limits are enforced in Rockport. Bag limits refer to the number of fish an angler can harvest within a single day, while size limits specify the minimum size at which a fish can be legally kept. Here are some of the specific bag and size limits for common fish species in Rockport:

Red Drum (Redfish)

The bag limit is 3 per day, with a slot size of 20-28 inches. One fish over 28 inches may be kept per year with a properly completed Red Drum Tag.

Spotted Seatrout (Speckled Trout)

The bag limit is 5 per day, with a size limit of 15-25 inches. One fish over 25 inches may be kept per day, which counts as part of the daily bag limit.

Flounder

The bag limit is 5 per day, with a minimum size limit of 15 inches. Note that from November 1 to December 15, flounder may only be taken by hook and line and the bag limit is reduced to 2 per day.

Black Drum

The bag limit is 5 per day, with a slot size of 14-30 inches. One fish over 52 inches may be kept per day and counts as part of the daily bag limit.

Sheepshead

The bag limit is 5 per day, with a minimum size limit of 15 inches.

Sheepshead Caught Near Rockport, Texas

Protected Species and Closures

Certain fish species in Rockport's waters are protected due to conservation concerns or legal restrictions. It’s essential to familiarize yourself with the protected species list to avoid unintentional harm. Protected species and those with specific regulations include:

Tarpon

Special regulations apply, including mandatory reporting of any tarpon caught that are 80 inches or longer.

Sawfish

All sawfish are protected, and any catch must be released immediately.

Goliath Grouper

Harvesting this species is prohibited; any incidental catch must be released immediately.

Gear Restrictions

Rockport has regulations governing fishing gear to prevent excessive damage to the environment and maintain a level playing field for anglers. Some common gear restrictions include:

Fishing Lines

Anglers are limited to the use of two fishing lines.

Bait

Certain types of bait, such as live baitfish, may have restrictions to prevent the introduction of invasive species.

Techniques

Some areas may prohibit the use of gill nets, trammel nets, and other specific types of nets to protect fish populations.

Catch-and-Release Best Practices

Engaging in catch-and-release fishing is an excellent way to contribute to the conservation efforts in Rockport. However, it's essential to follow best practices to minimize stress on the fish and increase their chances of survival. Use proper handling techniques, such as wetting your hands before handling the fish, avoiding excessive contact with their delicate scales, and using barbless hooks. Release fish gently and promptly back into the water, ensuring they have fully recovered before swimming away.

Reporting and Recording

Rockport encourages anglers to report their catches and contribute to scientific research and conservation efforts. Some fish species may require anglers to report their catch, either through specific programs or by contacting local authorities. By sharing your fishing data, you can contribute to the understanding of fish populations, habitat health, and the overall management of the area's resources.

Understanding and complying with fishing rules and regulations is crucial for every angler in Rockport. By obtaining the appropriate fishing license, respecting bag and size limits, being aware of protected species and closures, following gear restrictions, and practicing responsible catch-and-release techniques, you can contribute to the preservation of the marine ecosystem while enjoying the thrill of fishing. Remember, responsible angling ensures that future generations can continue to enjoy the bountiful fishing opportunities Rockport has to offer.

For more information, check out everything to know about fishing in Rockport