Texas recreational and commercial fishermen fishing more than nine (9) nautical miles off the coast of Texas are in federal waters and are subject to rules and regulations that may differ from those in state waters. An example would be the federal requirement to use non-stainless circle hooks when fishing for reef fish. Recreational anglers must have a Texas fishing license and saltwater endorsement to bring any fish taken in federal waters ashore in Texas. To ensure that you are in compliance with federal regulations, you should contact the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council at (888) 833-1844 (toll free) or visit their website
The limits and restrictions in this guide apply to aquatic life caught in the public waters of Texas out to nine (9) nautical miles in the Gulf of Mexico, and also apply to aquatic life caught between 9 and 200 nautical miles in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and landed in this state. (Federal law also regulates species between 9 and 200 nautical miles managed under a Federal Fishery Management Plan.)
|Statewide Bag and Length Limits for Saltwater Fish|
|Species||Daily Bag||Length in Inches
|Amberjack, Greater||1||34 — No limit|
|Bass: striped, its hybrids and subspecies||
|18 — No limit|
|Catfish: channel and blue catfish,
their hybrids and subspecies
(in any combination)
|12 — No limit|
|Catfish, flathead||5||18 — No limit|
|Catfish, gafftopsail||No limit||14 — No limit|
|Cobia||2||37 — No limit|
|Drum, black a||5||14 — 30 a|
|Drum, red b||3||20 — 28 b|
|Flounder: all species, their hybrids and subspeciesc||5/2 c
(in any combination)
|14 — No limit c|
|Gar, alligator||1||No limit — No limit|
|Grouper, gag||2||22 — No limit|
|Grouper, goliath (formerly called Jewfish)||0||Catch and release only|
|Mackerel, king||2||27 — No limit|
|Mackerel, Spanish||15||14 — No limit|
|Marlin, blue||No limit||131 — No limit|
|Marlin, white||No limit||86 — No limit|
|Mullet: all species, their hybrids
and subspecies d
|No limit||No limit — 12 d (during Oct., Nov., Dec. & Jan.)|
|Sailfish||No limit||84 — No limit|
See special regulation e below for Lower Laguna Madre
|15 — 25 f|
|• Atlantic sharpnose, blacktip, bonnethead||1
||24 — No limit|
|• other allowable shark species||See special regulation g below||64 — No limit|
|• prohibited species h||0||Catch and release only|
|Sheepshead||5||15 —No limit|
|Snapper, lane||No limit||8 — No limit|
|Snapper, red i||4||15 — No limit|
|Snapper, vermilion||No limit||10 — No limit|
|Snook||1||24 — 28|
|Tarpon||1||85 — no limit|
|Triggerfish, gray||20||16— No limit|
|Tripletail||3||17 — no limit|
a Black drum: No more than one black drum over 52 inches may be retained per person per day and counts as part of the daily bag and possession limit.
b Red drum special regulation: During a license year, one red drum over the stated maximum length limit may be retained when affixed with a properly completed Red Drum Tag and one red drum over the stated maximum length limit may be retained when affixed with a properly completed Bonus Red Drum Tag. Any fish retained under authority of a Red Drum Tag or a Bonus Red Drum Tag may be retained in addition to the daily bag and possession limit as stated in this section.
c Flounder special regulation: Daily bag is 5 fish except for the period Nov. 1-30 when the daily bag is 2 fish and flounder may be taken only by pole and line. Possession limit is equal to the daily bag..
d Mullet: May not take from public waters, or possess on board a boat, mullet over 12 inches during October, November, December, and January. No limits apply during other months.
e Spotted Seatrout Special Regulation: For the Lower Laguna Madre, the daily bag limit and the possession limit shall be 5 fish in all inside waters south of marker 21 located inside the area known as the Land Cut. Inside waters are all bays, inlets, outlets, passes, rivers, streams, and other bodies of water landward from the shoreline of the state along the Gulf of Mexico and contiguous to, or connected with, but not a part of, the Gulf of Mexico and within which the tide regularly rises and falls.
f Spotted Seatrout: No more than one spotted seatrout over the stated maximum length may be retained per person per day and counts as part of the daily bag and possession limit.
g Special Regulation: the daily bag limit is 1 fish for all allowable shark species including Atlantic sharpnose, blacktip, and bonnethead.
h Prohibited shark species: Atlantic angel, Basking Bigeye sand tiger, Bigeye sixgill, Bigeye thresher, Bignose, Caribbean reef, Caribbean sharpnose, Dusky, Galapagos, Longfin mako, Narrowtooth, Night, Sandbar, Sand tiger, Sevengill, Silky, Sixgill, Smalltail, Whale, and White.
i Red snapper may be taken using pole and line, but it is unlawful to use any kind of hook other than a circle hook.