Sabine Lake fishing regulations

Border waters are tricky to fish. Which state’s rules apply where?

Don’t turn to the internet. Neither state had anything definitive on the rules for Sabine Lake fishing.

But there were lots of opinions on various fishing forums — most of them partially or all wrong, I was to learn.

Fortunately, I got the rules from the horses’ mouths. Capt. Bobby Buatt, Commander of Region 5 of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division, and Capt. Rod Ousley in charge of District 2, Region 4 Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Law Enforcement told me the same story.

Texas and Louisiana have a reciprocal agreement allowing anglers to fish the main body of the lake, with the pass (river and channel) thrown in, with a license from either state.

This does not include access to any bayous or rivers that enter the lake. A valid license for the particular state is required for those.

Anglers may only possess fish meeting size and creel limits for the state in which they launched their boat when they return to the launch for pick-up. Furthermore, fishermen on the water may only possess fish meeting the laws of that state.

In other words Louisiana fishermen can fish in the Texas half of the lake, but they can’t have Louisiana limits in their possession while in that state.

Louisiana size and daily creel limits are as follows:

• Speckled trout: 15 fish; 12-inch minimum size, only two of which may be over 25 inches.

• Redfish: Five fish; 16-inch minimum size, only one of which may be larger than 27 inches.

• Black drum: Five fish; 16-inch minimum size, only one of which may be larger than 27 inches.

• Flounder: 10 fish, no minimum size.

Texas size and daily creel limits are lower and more complex:

• Speckled Trout: 10 fish; 15-inch minimum size, only on of which may be over 25 inches.

• Redfish: Three fish; 20-inch minimum size and 28-inch maximum size. A red drum tag allowing the take of one fish over 28 inches per year is issued with a fishing license. A bonus red drum tag allowing the take of another redfish over 28 inches per year may be purchased for $3. Since Louisianans fishing under a Louisiana license are not issued a red drum tag, the maximum size limit for them is effectively 28 inches.

• Black drum: Five fish; 14-inch minimum size, only one of which may be over 52 inches.

• Flounder: Five fish limit except from Nov. 1 to Dec. 14, when the limit is reduced to two fish; 14-inch minimum size.

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About Jerald Horst 959 Articles
Jerald Horst is a retired Louisiana State University professor of fisheries. He is an active writer, book author and outdoorsman.

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