It’s okay to catch-and-take

July 20, 2013

Several folks have expressed a concern over keeping a limit of fish on our area lakes. In order to have a better fishery, many believe catch-and-release provides a better opportunity.

In many cases it does, but not always. There are many factors biologists have to consider for each fishery. There are many reasons for catch-and-release, but most our Texas waters are also designed for catch-and-take.

First, the Texas Parks and Wildlife department maintains the fishery to allow for catch-and-take. They set up limits for game fish as necessary and restock as necessary to allow anglers the opportunity to catch and keep fish if desired.

Some species are more likely kept for the table such as crappie, catfish, white bass and striped bass/hybrid striped bass. It is generally considered a “sin” for many anglers to keep a largemouth bass for the table, but some folks do.

Returning black bass to the lake is pretty typical, but there are those who enjoy this fish on the table as well. No one will gripe about someone harvesting gasper gou (drum) or carp, as these are not normally considered game fish in these parts, though they are considered good fish elsewhere in the world. There is no limit on carp or drum and they are not considered a game fish.

On the other hand, returning a fish to the water may give someone else the chance to catch that fish again if it survives. There are many survival studies for many different species, and many of those are positive for catch-and-release.

Other studies on certain species reflect low survival rates. One thing in common is that if you are going to release fish in the summer, the chances for survival are less.

Catching and releasing white bass, or as we call them in Texas sand bass,” is fairly successful even in the summer. Survival rates are higher in the winter, but sand bass are pretty robust and they survive. Catching a limit of 25 per person at 10-inch minimum has not been a problem on Lake Granbury.

Many folks are taking advantage of the abundance of these fish, and they are being caught up to 18 inches long, which is a huge sand bass. They are also extremely fun to catch and eat.

Most species, if caught quickly before all the fight is out of them, and released quickly will have a better chance for survival. Stripers and hybrid stripers, on the other hand, will generally perish if released in the heat of the summer.

It is generally recommended that you keep the legal stripers/hybrid you catch in the summer (up to your limit of course) and do not practice catch-and-release. You will better conserve the resource fishery by not catching and releasing stripers and hybrids in the summer.

Most species can be successfully released in the winter months with a high survival rate. Catch-and-release for the striped bass/hybrid striped bass works in the winter. However, the striped bass flourishes in this colder weather/water, and the fillets from these healthy fish are thick and firm and good eating this time of the year.

Any bleeding fish that has swallowed a hook or has had their gills torn, will most likely die no matter what season. You should keep these damaged fish for the table. If the fish has swallowed the hook and is not bleeding, you can cut line and release the fish. There is a chance the fish will survive .

A rule change that became effective back in 2003 reduced the number of fish taken during a guided trip. Previously it was allowable to have a catch on board that included the limit for the guide. Currently, the amount of fish in the guide boat on a guided tour can only include the customer limit. Guides can still catch their limit when not on a tour.

Take what you need and release the rest. If you are to release in the summer, take extra precautions to better the chances for the fish’s survival.


Water temperatures on most of our area lakes are in the middle 80s. The recent rains have raised Granbury a few inches, but we need additional rain to fill the lake. Access is still limited at Rough Creek park and at the launch at the Hilton.

Sand bass action continues to be phenomenal. Limits of the fish are being taken all times of the day. Most any shad imitation will put fish in the boat. Black bass on Granbury continues to be fair to good on soft plastics.

Squaw Creek action after the rain was reported as slow for black bass. I am sure the reports will rebound this coming weekend.

Possum Kingdom sand bass and some stripers are being caught on the lower ends on slabs and shad. Lewisville hybrid limits are good on live shad. Benbrook hybrids are fair to good to 10 pounds on live shad. Whitney sand bass are being caught in numbers.

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Category: Sports Archived