Possession and Transport of Exotic Aquatic Species
It is a violation to:
- Possess or transport any exotic aquatic plant or animal listed as harmful or potentially harmful. This includes: plants such as hydrilla, water hyacinth, and giant salvinia; fishes such as tilapia and Asian carps (grass, silver, and bighead carp); and zebra mussels.
- Possess tilapia, grass carp or any other fish listed as harmful or potentially harmful, without immediately removing the intestines, except on waters where a valid Triploid Grass Carp Permit is in effect. In those waters, it is illegal to possess grass carp. Any grass carp caught must be immediately returned to the water unharmed. Please see our list of waters with Triploid Grass Carp Permits.
- Fail to immediately remove and lawfully dispose of any harmful or potentially harmful aquatic plant that is clinging or attached to a vessel, watercraft, trailer, motor vehicle, or other device used to transport or launch a vessel or watercraft. Illegal transport can result in a fine of $25-$500.
Rules to Prevent Spread of Zebra Mussels
Updated September 26, 2013: Zebra mussels have been discovered in Lake Belton. TPWD has issued an emergency order adding Lake Belton, Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir, and portions of the Leon and Lampasas rivers to the list of waters that require draining of boats and fishing equipment before leaving the vicinity. See details below.
Anglers and boaters leaving the water bodies listed below would be in compliance with rules on possessing and transporting the microscopic larval stage of zebra mussels (called veligers) if all bait buckets, live wells, bilges, and any other receptacles, containers, or systems that could contain water are emptied prior to departure from the listed waters. Applies on:
- Lake Belton and Leon River downstream to its confluence with the Lampasas River
- Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir and Lampasas River downstream to its confluence with the Leon River
- Red River from the I-44 bridge in Wichita County to the Arkansas/Texas border, including the Texas waters of Lake Texoma
- Lake Lavon
- Impounded and tributary waters of Elm Fork of the Trinity River above the Lewisville dam, including lakes Lewisville and Ray Roberts
- West Fork of the Trinity River above Lake Worth dam including lakes Bridgeport, Eagle Mountain and Worth
Following these procedures does not exempt persons from complying with prohibitions against transporting exotic aquatic species that are visible to the unaided eye, such as adult zebra mussels, which may be attached to boats or trailers.
A person leaving one of these waters that travels on a public roadway via the most direct route to another access point located on the same body of water would not be required to drain or empty water.
Rule to Prevent Spread of Bighead and Silver Carp
It is unlawful to transport live, non-game fishes from the Red River below Lake Texoma downstream to the Arkansas border, Big Cypress Bayou downstream of Ferrell’s Bridge Dam on Lake O’ the Pines (including the Texas waters of Caddo Lake), and the Sulphur River downstream of the Lake Wright Patman dam. Nongame fishes collected from these waters may be used as live bait on these water bodies only.