Anglers in Texas are feeling late winter’s sting. The state’s Parks & Wildlife Department has banned fishing in certain deepwater coastal areas until Saturday to protect cold, stunned fish.

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_…Prolonged near-freezing bay temperatures can kill fish in shallow coastal waters where escape to deep water is difficult. When bay temperatures drop into the 40s, most fish seek refuge in warmer depths, which can be found in the Intracoastal Waterway, neighborhood canals, boat basins and harbors. These fish become sluggish and prone to easy capture.

Areas included in the ban include Conn Brown Harbor in Aransas Pass, Padre Isles canals on North Padre Island, Cove Harbor in Rockport and eight other locations in the Coastal Bend._
The use of grappling hooks, snagging devices and dip nets to capture game fish always is illegal. During the temporary closure, fishing by any means in prohibited areas is unlawful…

…Texas has about 2 million acres of bays and estuaries susceptible to freezes, according to Parks & Wildlife Coastal Fisheries Director Robin Reichers. Three major freezes during the 1980s, including one in 1989 when the temperature at Brownsville dropped to 16 degrees, killed estimated 11 million fish. Violating the order is a Class C misdemeanor which carries a $25 to $500 fine.

Jim Stark, executive director of the Gulf Intracoastal Canal Association, has sent a conservation plea out to members of this trade organization to voluntarily shut down traffic through a section of the Intracoastal Waterway called the Landcut south of Baffin Bay.

During previous prolonged freezes, lethargic fish that had sought refuge in the warmer depths of the Landcut were killed from the mud-clouded water caused by the propellers of tug boats. Biologists believe the hapless fish could suffocate from the suspended particles in the water._