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 March 23, 2014: In the state’s ongoing effort to combat the spread of invasive zebra mussels, new rules require that all boats operating on public water in 47 counties be drained after use.
Persons leaving or approaching public water in the affected counties are required to drain all water from their vessels and on-board receptacles. This applies to all types and sizes of boats whether powered or not, personal watercraft, sailboats, or any other vessel used to travel on public waters.
The rules apply on all public waters in Archer, Bastrop, Bell, Bosque, Burnet, Clay, Collin, Comal, Comanche, Cooke, Coryell, Dallas, Denton, Eastland, Ellis, Erath, Falls, Fannin, Fayette, Freestone, Grayson, Hamilton, Hays, Henderson (west of Highway 19), Hill, Hood, Jack, Johnson, Kaufman, Leon, Limestone, Llano, McLennan, Montague, Navarro, Palo Pinto, Parker, Robertson, Rockwall, Somervell, Stephens, Tarrant, Travis, Wichita, Williamson, Wise, and Young counties.
Applicable in all areas where boats can be launched, the regulation requires the draining of live wells, bilges, motors, and any other receptacles or water-intake systems coming into contact with public waters. Live fish cannot be transported in water that comes from the water body where they were caught, personally caught live bait can be used only in the water body where it was caught, and no off-site tournament weigh-ins would be allowed if live fish are being transported in water from a water body in one of the affected counties.
Anglers may transport and use commercially purchased live bait in water provided they have a receipt that identifies the source of the bait. Any live bait purchased from a location on or adjacent to a public water body that is transported in water from that water body could only be used as bait on that same water body.
Movement from one access point to another on the same lake during the same day does not require drainage and there is an exception for governmental activities and emergencies. Marine sanitary systems are not covered by the new regulations.
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.