TX - Early Assessments Say Bay Systems South of Galveston Bay Received Most of the Impacts From Winter Storm

Freezing events along the Texas Coast are rare, but extreme cold temperatures can be a natural cause of fish kills.

If fish do not make it to refuge in deeper, more temperature stable water in cold weather, they may die when water temperatures reach a certain threshold. For example, spotted seatrout experience more mortalities associated with freezing weather than other common game species.

Currently, TPWD is seeing localized fish kills in affected bay systems and receiving reports of areas with dead fish from guides, anglers, and other boaters along the coast. Initial reporting of fish mortality occurred February 14, 2021. The quantification of impacts to fish is still ongoing. Rapid assessments indicate the majority of fish (by number) impacted were non-recreational species including pinfish, spot, silver perch, gulf menhaden, mullet and other foraging fish. Recreationally important species impacted do include spotted seatrout, red drum, sheepshead, grey snapper, snook, black drum, and tarpon.

The geographic extent of fish kills includes the entire Texas coast, but at this point it appears as if bay systems south of Galveston Bay received most of the impacts.  The majority of the kills were located along the southern shores and undeveloped areas such as the back sides of the barrier islands (Example: Pringle Lakes of Matagorda Island). There appears to be differential impacts often seen in various freeze events. Areas such as Pringle Lakes and south of 9 Mile Hole at the Land Cut in the Laguna Madre appear to have higher proportions of game fish impacted. Bay system

Sabine Lake

  • Reports of fish kill in Keith Lake system of Sabine Lake. Game wardens reported seeing red and black drum in addition to some sheepshead.

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