Texas Federal Waters - Rules and Regulations
Fishing in Texas Federal Waters
Texas recreational and commercial fishermen fishing more than 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 the council's website.
The limits and restrictions in this guide apply to aquatic life caught in the public waters of Texas out to 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 possessed in state waters or landed in this state. (Federal law also regulates species between 9 and 200 nautical miles managed under a Federal Fishery Management Plan.)
It is unlawful to possess aquatic life in Texas waters that was illegally taken in federal waters.
Charter, headboat, and saltwater fishing guide operations must have an FWC charter captain or boat license to cover their passengers, who are not required to hold a recreational saltwater fishing license. Customers authorized to fish under the vessel license are not required to hold a recreational saltwater fishing license.
If you have any questions, please contact your charter fishing guide or the Texas Parks and Wildlife.