New Speckled trout regulations take effect


Last updated 3/19/2024 at 5:12pm

Texas saltwater anglers will once again see the limits change on speckled trout starting March 23rd after the Texas Parks and Wildlife commission passed the new proposal. In what has been described as an attempt to help the dwindling population of specks after the last 2 major freezes the commission approved a 3 fish limit with a 15” to 20” slot. The commission also approved keeping one fish over 30” as part of the daily limit. The new limit takes the place of the current regulations that allow for 5 fish between 15” and 25” with 1 one of those being over 25”. Last November Louisiana changed their speckled trout limits also, they kept the 15 fish limit but increased their minimum size to 13” and put an upper end to the slot at 20”. So you can keep 15 fish between 13 and 20 inches as well as having 2 of those 15 fish being over 20” as well. Louisiana also did away with guides being able to keep their limit of fish on charter trips as well which was already a law in Texas.

Now here’s where it gets interesting or frustrating depending on where you stand. Due to the fact that Sabine lake is on the border of Texas and Louisiana there has always been a divide between many local fishermen about being able to keep Louisiana legal fish and coming back into Texas. There are plenty of local folks who exploited a very gray area in the law for many years in order to keep the more liberal limits from Louisiana. There are just as many folks who were heavily against that practice. It wasn’t until the law changed to state that if you launched in Texas you must bring back Texas legal fish regardless if you had a Louisiana license. That law curbed most anglers from exploiting the perceived loophole and for the most part shut the majority of that practice down. Just like passing any law there will be those who are dead set on finding a way around it and that’s exactly what a surprising number of anglers are willing to do.

If you take a ride to any of the boat launches on the Louisiana side of Sabine Lake you will find that the overwhelming percentage of license plates on the trucks and trailers are from Texas. These are the folks who are interested in numbers of fish and regardless of what anyone thinks they are legal to do so. Here in lies the problem, now that Texas has reduced their limits again for the entire state you can bet that there will be a major increase in fishing pressure as folks from the Galveston and Trinity areas will head east to Sabine so they can also fish using the much more liberal Louisiana limits. The last thing Sabine needs is increased pressure on a fish population that is still in recovery. During the Covid scare Sabine was virtually left untouched and that allowed the lake to rebound from the freeze in 2021. At this time Sabine has shown progress in both numbers and size of speckled trout and that trend should continue as long as nothing natural or man made gets in the way.

For all the good that TPWD hopes to accomplish on the rest of the Texas coast by changing the limits it could all go the opposite way for us here on Sabine. Until some sort of compromise, like the one on largemouth bass on Toledo Bend, can be made between Texas and Louisiana Sabine lake will be at the mercy of those who are willing to put conservation ahead of the need for numbers. As we enter into some of the better months for catching those bigger trophy class fish please remember to take good care of them before you let them go and release everything you don’t intend to eat.


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