The freezing weather has forced Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to issue a temporary closure to saltwater fishing in the Rio Grande Valley and other counties along the Texas Gulf coast.
Anglers will not be allowed to fish until 10 p.m. Wednesday, officials said.
The frigid waters in the shallow Laguna Madre cause fish to gather in a few deeper areas where they become sluggish and can easily be caught.
The closure includes the following locations:
>> CAMERON COUNTY — Gulf of Mexico from and including the Brazos Santiago Pass south jetty along the beach for one half mile and out from shore for 1,000 yards.
>> CAMERON COUNTY — Area from shore out to a line from the middle of the Queen Isabella Memorial Causeway on the northwest and the end of the old causeway on the southeast including the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway bounded by the Queen Isabella Memorial Causeway on the north and the Port Isabel Swing Bridge on the south. Does not include the adjacent canal in Port Isabel.
>> WILLACY COUNTY — The entire harbor from the corners of the bulkheads on either side of harbor to the harbor mouth.
“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 sea trout.”
TPW says the closure also includes areas of Aransas, Calhoun, Galveston, Matagorda, Nueces, Orange and San Patricio counties.
Fish trapped in shallow waters are stunned by the cold and wash ashore on the water’s edge.
In the past similar freezes have killed millions of fish. Texas Parks and Wildlife said in 1989 when the temperature at Brownsville dropped to 16 degrees and an estimated 11 million fish were killed in the freeze.
If you come across fish kills or a large number of cold-stunned fish call TPWD’s Law Enforcement Communications office at (281) 842-8100 or (512) 389-4848.