I have come upon some new information that I thought was interesting and decided to share some of the items with you today, and the first one came from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission has adopted some changes to the freshwater fishing regulations for the upcoming 2021-2022 season. It is regarding changes to length and bag limits for blue and channel catfish statewide and at specific locations that the changes effect. They also include minor modifications to passive gear float dimensions.

The changes that were enacted for the 2021-22 license year and take effect September 1, 2021, and will be incorporated into the 2021-22 edition of the TPWD Outdoor Annual, which is not out yet as of today.

The current statewide regulations for blue and channel catfish is a 12-inch minimum length limit and a 25-fish daily bag limit that combines both species. The changes will remove the minimum length limit, fish of any length will be allowed to be harvested, and retain the 25-fish daily bag. However, of the 25 blue or channel catfish that can be harvested per day, anglers will be limited to harvesting no more than 10 fish that measure 20 inches or longer.

Two new exceptions to the statewide regulations for blue and channel catfish were adopted. The first category follows the no minimum length limit and 25-fish daily bag limit for blue and channel catfish from the approved statewide regulations, but further limits the number of fish 20 inches or larger that could be harvested per day to five. It also limits the number of fish 30 inches or larger that can be harvested to one. A total of 12 locations were approved for this category and Lake Conroe is one of them.

Lake Livingston and Lake Sam Rayburn are two of the other lakes that are facing some changes, but it will be necessary to wait until the TPWD Outdoor Annual for 2021-2022 is available where you get your fishing license or online at the TPWD website.

Changes were also adopted to standardize the descriptions for float dimensions for some passive gears as length and width rather than height and diameter. Also, inadvertently, the width of the float for minnow traps was listed as 6 inches, and it should be 3 inches. So to get the full facts about any changes to passive gears you need to check in the upcoming Outdoor Annual.

Remember the changes begin September 1, 2021, so be aware that they are coming and look for the latest information between now and September 1.

The next point I will address is concerning the San Jacinto River Authority and the water in Lake Conroe. On this subject I have nothing particularly earth shattering, but there is a new labeling method the SJRA has adopted that confused me concerning the water that is being removed from the lake.

I am used to the water being released from the dam and recorded in three different listings and one was shown as “Seasonal Lowering” which has always stuck in my craw since it was adopted.

One of the reasons for that opinion is Lake Conroe was designed and built as a “Water Supply Reservoir” and not for flood control. To attempt to use it as flood control seems to me ludicrous because Spring Creek, Cypress Creek and the San Jacinto River have all flooded and covered that bottom land for as far back as you want to look.

That was once again proven earlier this year when the lake level was at one hundred and ninety-seven feet and no water was being released from Lake Conroe. We received a little rain and down stream from the dam flooded anyway. Just because you build houses in bottom land that has always flooded doesn't mean it will stop flooding.

Anyway, back to the new release names. One is COH Diversion and that is for any water released at the call of the City of Houston, who owns two-thirds of the water in Lake Conroe. That includes the previous category “Seasonal Lowering.” The next is the GRP Diversion which is the Ground Reduction Plan. That is water that is released into the new treatment plant for others such as Conroe for their water use.

You probably have noticed that the new catch word for Release is Diversion. I expect that is for the purpose of sounding more palatable to the folks who own property facing the lake and the boaters and anglers that use the lake. I recall one time working for a company that made a photographic processing machine and we were instructed that the chemicals did not give off Fumes, but Vapors; it sounded less offensive.

So folks I would like to thank Heather Ramsey Cook, Director of Communications & Public Affairs at the San Jacinto River Authority, with the patience of Job I might add, for the assistance she gave me to more clearly understand the new release labels and other information.

I would also like to point you at a SJRA Press Release dated February 25, 2020, titled SJRA Board of Directors Recommends Renewing Flood Mitigation Strategy, on their website regarding how much the lake level can be adjusted and when, which was a great help to me to better understand the current seasonal release program.

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