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Ray Sasser: Changes to catch sizes for largemouth bass could be coming to 18 Texas lakes

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Ray Sasser, Outdoor Writer

Largemouth bass regulation changes

In an effort to streamline largemouth bass fishing regulations, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Inland Fisheries Division is proposing changes on 18 public lakes.

Biologists said the changes are designed to enhance the fisheries.

Twelve of the 18 lakes would revert to a 14-inch minimum size limit for bass. Those lakes are Granbury, Possum Kingdom, Ratcliff, Bryan, Cooper, Old Mount Pleasant, Bridgeport, Burke-Crenshaw, Georgetown, Madisonville, San Augustine and Sweetwater.

If the proposal is approved, Purtis Creek State Park Lake and Lake Raven, both in state parks, change from catch-and-release only to a five-fish daily limit with a maximum size of 16 inches. Exceptions will be made for bass weighing 13 pounds or more donated to the Toyota ShareLunker program.

The slot limit at Lake Monticello, Gibbons Creek Reservoir and Fayette County Reservoir would change from 14-24 inches to 16-24 inches. 

Finally, the limit at Grapevine Lake would change to no minimum size and five fish daily, only two of which could be less than 18 inches long.

Proposals are subject to January approval by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission. Comments should be directed to Dave Terre, dave.terre@tpwd.texas.gov.

Whooping cranes migrating later

Endangered whooping cranes are migrating later than usual this year.

Their migration into Texas coincides with the opening of waterfowl and sandhill crane hunting seasons.

Hunters and all Texans are reminded to be on the lookout for these iconic birds, which usually migrate in small groups.

Biologists don't know the impact that Hurricane Harvey will have on the whoopers that winter in and around Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. It may force the birds into surrounding habitat they would not ordinarily use.

The tallest of American birds, whoopers reach nearly five feet tall. Their traditional migration path from nesting grounds in Alberta's Woods Buffalo National Park takes them near Dallas-Fort Worth, Waco and Austin.

From a low of 15 in 1941, biologists counted 431 whooping cranes last year. That's the record number since the cranes were placed on the endangered species list. Whooping crane sightings may be reported to www.inaturalist.org/projects/texas-whooper-watch.

Herpetologist studying rattlesnake dens

Iowa herpetologist Steve Bostwick adapted an underwater fishing camera, an Aqua-Vu Micro II, to study timber and prairie rattlesnakes in their subterranean dens. The snakes like to den beneath limestone overhangs, Bostwick said.

He mounted the small camera lens to a 10-foot piece of PVC electrical conduit and ran the camera cable back through the tube to the camera screen, which is powered by a rechargeable battery.

"The Aqua-Vu has greatly aided my tracking and movement research," he said. "The data I've compiled continues to tell us valuable info about the reproduction, migration and population of these marvelous animals."

Calendar

SATURDAYS  THROUGH DEC. 30--Dallas Fly Fishers fly-tying session 10 a.m.-noon at Orvis Dallas, 300 Preston Road. Details at 214-265-1600.

SATURDAY, NOV. 18--Mule deer season begins in the Panhandle.

FRIDAY, NOV. 24--Sandhill crane season begins in Zone B.

FRIDAY, NOV. 24--Mule deer season begins in the Trans-Pecos.

SUNDAY, NOV. 26--First split of duck season ends in North and South zones.

SATURDAY, DEC. 2--Second split of North Zone duck season begins.

SATURDAY, DEC. 2--Panhandle pheasant season begins.

SATURDAY, DEC. 9--Second split of South Zone duck season begins.

SATURDAY, DEC. 16--Sandhill crane season begins in Zone C.

MONDAY, DEC. 18--Second split of dove season begins in North and Central zones.

MONDAY, DEC.18--Woodcock season begins statewide.