Surf Fishing

Texas Saltwater Fish Limits: Top 30 Game Fish List

You've decided to take your family on a fishing trip. You want to target speckled trout and redfish and are unsure of the size limits or how many you can keep. Don't worry, we've got you covered!

Here is a list of the Texas saltwater fish limits that include the 30 most popular game fish and a quick rundown of the fishing regulations for recreational saltwater.

This article will cover:

  • List of Texas game fish bag and size limits
  • How to measure a fish's length
  • Purpose of the saltwater fish size limits
  • Temporary Speckled Trout Regulation Change
  • Texas saltwater fishing license requirements

Let’s have a closer look and continue reading to find out more!

This material is for personal use only and does not apply to commercial or guided fishing.


Table of Contents

Texas Game Fish List

Amberjack

  • Daily Bag Limit: 1
  • Minimum Length: 38 inches
  • Maximum Length: No limit

Bass, Striped

  • Daily Bag Limit: 5
  • Minimum Length: 18 inches
  • Maximum Length: No limit

Catfish, Gafftopsail

  • Daily Limit: No limit
  • Minimum Length: 14 inches
  • Maximum Length: No limit

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Cobia

  • Daily Limit: 2
  • Minimum Length: 40 inches
  • Maximum Length: No limit

Drum, Black (Black Drum)

  • Daily Limit: 5
  • Minimum Length: 14 inches
  • Maximum Length: 30 inches
  • Allowed 1 Black Drum greater than 52 inches and counts as part of daily bag limit

Drum, Red (Red Fish, Bull Red)

  • Daily Limit: 3
  • Minimum Length: 20 inches
  • Maximum Length: 28 inches
  • Red Drum Tag: Allows 1 Red Drum greater than 28 inches per tag
  • Bonus Red Drum Tag: Allows 1 Red Drum greater than 28 inches per tag

Flounder

  • Bag Limit: 5, except November 1 - December 14 (bag limit: 0, coastal fisheries are closed)
  • Minimum Length: 20 inches
  • Maximum Length: 28 inches

Grouper, Black

  • Daily Bag: 4
  • Minimum Length: 24 inches
  • Maximum Length: No limit

Grouper, Gag

  • Daily Bag: 2
  • Minimum Length: 24 inches
  • Maximum Length: No limit

Grouper, Goliath

  • Daily Bag: 0, catch and release only

Grouper, Nassau

  • Daily Bag: 0, catch and release only

Mackerel, King

  • Daily Bag: 3
  • Minimum Length: 27 inches
  • Maximum Length: No limit

Mackerel, Spanish

  • Daily Bag: 15
  • Minimum Length: 14 inches
  • Maximum Length: No limit

Marlin, Blue

  • Daily Bag: No limit
  • Minimum Length: 131 inches
  • Maximum Length: No limit

Marlin, White

  • Daily Bag: No limit
  • Minimum Length: 86 inches
  • Maximum Length: No limit

Mullet

  • Daily Bag: No limit
  • Minimum Length: No limit
  • Maximum Length: 12 inches (only for October - January; else no limit)

Sailfish

  • Daily Bag: No limit
  • Minimum Length: 84 inches
  • Maximum Length: No limit

Seatrout, Spotted (Speckled Trout)

  • Location: Statewide which does not include the Laguna Madre
  • Daily Bag: 5 (includes one spotted seatrout over the maximum length day)
  • Minimum Length: 15 inches
  • Maximum Length: 25 inches

Seatrout, Spotted (Speckled Trout) - Laguna Madre

  • Location: In the bays and beachfront of the Laguna Madre
  • Daily Bag: 3 (no oversized spotted seatrout allowed in this location)
  • Minimum Length: 17 inches
  • Maximum Length: 23 inches

Shark, Atlantic Sharpnose

  • Requirements: Non-offset, non-stainless steel circle hooks only for all shark species
  • Daily Bag: 1 (only 1 in combination with all shark types)
  • Minimum Length: 24 inches
  • Maximum Length: No limit

Shark, Blacktip

  • Requirements: Non-offset, non-stainless steel circle hooks only for all shark species
  • Daily Bag: 1 (only 1 in combination with all shark types)
  • Minimum Length: 24 inches
  • Maximum Length: No limit

Shark, Bonnethead

  • Requirements: Non-offset, non-stainless steel circle hooks only for all shark species
  • Daily Bag: 1 (only 1 in combination with all shark types)
  • Minimum Length: 24 inches
  • Maximum Length: No limit

Shark, Hammerhead

  • Requirements: Non-offset, non-stainless steel circle hooks only for all shark species
  • Daily Bag: 1 (only 1 in combination with all shark types)
  • Minimum Length: 99 inches
  • Maximum Length: No limit

Shark, Other Allowable Species

  • Requirements: Non-offset, non-stainless steel circle hooks only for all shark types
  • Allowable types: Blue, Blacknose, Bull, Finetooth, Lemon, Nurse, Shortfin Mako, Spinner, Thresher, Tiger
  • Daily Bag: No bag limit
  • Minimum Length: 64 inches
  • Maximum Length: No limit

Shark, Prohibited Species

  • Requirements: Non-offset, non-stainless steel circle hooks only for all shark types
  • Prohibited Species: Atlantic Angel, Basking, Bigeye Sand Tiger, Bigeye Sixgill, Bigeye Thresher, Bignose, Caribbean Reef, Caribbean Sharpnose, Dusky, Galapagos, Longfin Mako, Narrowtooth, Night, Oceanic Whitetip, Sandbar, Sand Tiger, Sevengill, Silky, Sixgill, Smalltail, Whale, and White.
  • Daily Bag: 0, catch and release only

Sheepshead

  • Daily Bag: 5
  • Minimum Length: 15 inches
  • Maximum Length: No limit

Red Snapper Season - Federal Waters

Valid Sep. 1, 2021 through Aug. 31, 2022.

Red Snapper - Federal Waters (Non-Commercial Only)

  • Location: Fishing is under federal jurisdiction beginning at nine nautical miles off of the Texas coast
  • Season: See Notice
  • Daily Bag: 2
  • Minimum Length: 16 inches
  • Maximum Length: No limit

Red Snapper - State Waters (Non-Commercial Only)

  • Location: Fishing is under state jurisdiction within nine nautical miles off of the Texas coast
  • Season: Full year
  • Daily Bag: 4
  • Minimum Length: 15 inches
  • Maximum Length: No limit
  • State Regulations: Red snapper may be taken using pole and line, but it is unlawful to use any kind of hook other than a circle hook when using natural bait.

Snapper, Lane

  • Daily Bag: No limit
  • Minimum Length: 8 inches
  • Maximum Length: No limit

Snapper, Vermilion

  • Daily Bag: No limit
  • Minimum Length: 10 inches
  • Maximum Length: No limit

Snook

  • Daily Bag: 1
  • Minimum Length: 24 inches
  • Maximum Length: 28 inches

Tarpon

  • Daily Bag: 1
  • Minimum Length: 85 inches
  • Maximum Length: No limit

Triggerfish, Gray

  • Daily Bag: 20
  • Minimum Length: 16 inches
  • Maximum Length: No limit

Tripletail

  • Daily Bag: 3
  • Minimum Length: 17 inches
  • Maximum Length: No limit

How To Measure A Fish's Length?

Here is the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission (TPWD) approved method of determining the legal length. It can be achieved in two ways.

For a soft-tailed:

  • Place the fish on its side, with the jaw closed.
  • Squeeze the tail fin together to get the longest total length possible.
  • Determine the length of a straight line from the tip of the snout to the end of the tail fin.

For a hard-tailed:

  • With the jaw closed, lay the fish on its side.
  • Measure a straight line from the end of the snout to the very end of the tail fin.

CAUTION

A game warden from the State of Texas may issue a ticket to anybody who is caught with an oversize saltwater fish.

For more information on measuring fish, refer to the TPWD site.

Temporary Speckled Trout Regulation Change

The speckled trout rules have altered following a fish kill in the Laguna Madre. The effective date is April 1, 2021. If the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission (TPWD) repeals these changes, they will be in effect for 120 days or less.

In response to the devastating impact of the severe freeze on spotted seatrout populations in February, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission implemented emergency rules on March 24, 2021, that would modify spotted seatrout management.

What Is The Texas Speckled Trout Limit For 2021?

The Texas speckled trout size regulations allow for a five-fish limit per day and a slot size of 15 to 25 inches, with the option to keep one fish over 25 inches long.

The temporary Lower Laguna Madre restrictions effective April 1st drop the per-day bag limit to three fish and the slot size limit to 17-23 inches for 120 days or less.

The Lower Laguna Madre restrictions will apply to inshore waters south of the JFK Causeway in Corpus Christi, ranging from Packery Channel to the Rio Grande.

Why Do We Have Limits On How Much You Can Take Home Each Day?

The Texas Parks & Wildlife determines daily size limits. Each state enacts limits because it aids in the growth and survival of the population. And, it also aids in the maturation and reproduction of fish and other animals.

Daily bag limits vary by type, with each having a certain number of fish anglers can harvest per day.

States have unique bag restrictions, so you will want to know the Texas saltwater limit for whatever species of fish you want to catch or release.

Fishing License Options For Saltwater

The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department regulates recreational fishing regulations. To saltwater fish in the public waters of Texas, anglers will need to purchase a fishing license with a saltwater tag. It comes with a single Redfish tag required to take one red drum longer than 28 inches per license year. 

Residents under the age of 17 are exempt. Residents 65 or older are discounted.

Texas Saltwater Package License Prices (2021)

  • Resident: $35 / year
  • Resident 65 years and older: $17 / year
  • Non Resident: $63 / year

You can find additional fishing license pricing information and order online at the official website of the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Texas Redfish Size Limit? 20 to 28 inches with single 28+ inch with red drum tag

The Texas redfish limit is a 3-fish daily limit and a slot size of 20 to 28 inches, with the option to keep one fish over 28 inches long with a red drum tag.

What Is The Texas Red Snapper Limit? 4-fish bag with a 15-inch minimum and no maximum limit in state waters

The Texas red snapper limit is four per day, with a minimum size of 15 inches in state waters without a maximum size restriction. Harvesting from international seas is only permitted between June 1 and August 5 (for 2021; may vary yearly), where a 2-fish daily restriction is in effect with a 16-inch minimum size requirement.

What Is The Black Drum Limit For Texas? 5-fish bag with a 14 to 30-inch slot and single 52-inch possession

The Texas black drum limit is a 5-fish limit per day and a slot size of 14 to 30 inches. One Black Drum greater than 52 inches is allowed and counts as part of the daily bag limit.

What Is The Texas Flounder Limit? 5-fish bag with a 20-inch minimum and 28-inch maximum limit when coastal fisheries are open

The Texas flounder bag and possession limit is 5 per day, with a slot size of 20 to 28-inches. Due to the coastal fisheries being closed, there is a 0 bag restriction from November 1 to December 14.

What Is The Texas Speckled Trout Limit? There is a daily bag limit of five fish, with a slot size of 15 to 25 inches. In the Laguna Madre, there is a 3-fish and a slot size of 17 to 23 inches.

The speckled trout fishing limit is five fish per day in Texas, with a slot size of 15 to 25 inches. For the Laguna Madre, there is a 3-fish daily maximum with a slot size of 17 to 23 inches.

What Is The Texas Sand Trout Limit? No minimum and no maximum limit

There is no Texas sand trout fishing size limit or bag limit.

Conclusion

In this article, I provided:

  • List of state game fish bag and size limits
  • How to measure a fish's length
  • Purpose of the state saltwater fish size limits
  • Temporary Speckled Trout Regulation Change
  • State saltwater fishing license requirements

Thank you for reading this article. Please help us to provide more valuable content to you by leaving a comment below with any questions or topic suggestions.

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About the author 

Tracy Villarreal

Tracy has been fishing Texas' beaches, piers, and inshore waters for over 30 years. A kayak fisherman for the last three years, Tracy is dedicated to helping others make the most of their trips by writing informative tips, guides, and onpoint articles based on his own experience since 2018.

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