With shad being a staple item on the boats of many Lake Texoma striped bass guides and area fishermen, a reminder might be in order after a new regulation began on Thursday.
The new Texas Parks and Wildlife Department rule — which went into effect on Thursday, April 13, 2017 — governs the possession and sale of gizzard and threadfin shad that anglers collect from public fresh water sources.
Passed earlier this year by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, a TPWD news release indicates that the new rule requires persons “…who use containers exceeding 82 quarts in volume when collecting shad to obtain a $60 Permit to Possess or Sell Nongame Fish Taken from Public Fresh Waters.”
What’s more, the TPWD news release indicates that “Persons collecting shad for use as bait or stock in private lakes would need a permit if their container volume exceeds 82 quarts. A permit will continue to be required if the shad collected are sold or exchanged for anything of value regardless of the container size used.”
TPWD’s news release also indicates that no permit is required if “…the shad are used only as bait on the lake where they are collected, or if a licensed fishing guide possesses and furnishes the shad as bait to customers as part of the guide’s services.”
Why the new regulation for shad?
According to Ken Kurzawski, TPWD Inland Fisheries director of information and regulations, the change allows the Austin-based agency to accomplish a couple of things.
First, it helps TPWD monitor shad harvesting a little bit better to ensure the forage fish’s sustainability in fisheries across the state.
And second, it helps TPWD address ongoing concerns about the spread of invasive species like zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha), which were first confirmed in the Lone Star State back in 2009 after being discovered in Lake Texoma.
As most area residents and anglers now know, the damaging zebra mussels are unfortunately present in a number of lakes and river basins across the northern and central portions of the state.
That’s particularly true in and near Grayson County with big numbers found at Lake Texoma along with confirmed zebra mussel infestations and/or DNA found at Lake Ray Roberts, Lake Lavon, Lake Lewisville and even smaller Dean Gilbert Lake in Sherman and Randell Lake in Denison.
What do zebra mussels have to do with shad collection and possession you might ask?
According to a separate TPWD news release, the zebra mussel larvae and post-larval forms are known to spread between waters via contaminated equipment and post-larval forms can even survive for several days out of water before being carried to other waters.
That 2015 TPWD agency news release also indicates that the mussel’s larvae, called veligers, are microscopic and are visually undetectable.
Because of that, TPWD consistently reminds its constituents that boaters, anglers, hunters and even divers can unknowingly carry the species to other water bodies via live wells, bait buckets, fishing gear, boats, kayaks, canoes, scuba equipment and even duck hunting gear that might contain just a little bit of water.
Thanks to the ongoing threat of zebra mussels spreading, a number of different regulations and programs (TPWD’s Clean, Drain and Dry campaign comes to mind) have been put into place by the agency.
And that includes the newest shad collection and possession rule which began across the state earlier this week.
“Transfer of zebra mussels is our primary concern,” said Kurzawski. “Before this change, no permit was required if the shad were not sold, so there was less opportunity to inform those users of the risks of the zebra mussel transfer…so these regulations give us an avenue to do that.”
Information on obtaining a nongame fish permit for the new shad regulation can be found online at the TPWD Web site at http://tpwd.texas.gov/publications/fishboat/forms/ or by calling the agency in Austin at 512-389-4742.
And finally, to learn more about zebra mussels and how to do your part to keep them from spreading, visit either the TPWD Web site at www.tpwd.texas.gov or the state’s invasive species information site at www.texasinvasives.org.