Freezing weather forces temporary fishing ban

HARLINGEN — The freezing weather has forced Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to issue a temporary closure to saltwater fishing in the Valley and other counties along the Texas Gulf coast.

Anglers will not be allowed to fish beginning Tuesday, from 6 a.m. through 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 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.