Government Closes Waters Within National Seashore Boundaries

Texas Parks and Wildlife has been answering more phone calls than usual this week from anglers who are being told the waterways near the Padre Island National Seashore are closed.

Of course, it all has to do with the partial government shutdown.

At Billings Bait & Tackle, rumors among anglers of security boats running them out of the water near the National Seashore have been swirling.

"That they couldn't go to where Bird Island is," said Vance Menard, owner of Billings Bait & Tackle. "You had to stay in the Intracoastal. Used to be able to boat ride down the side of the channel right over there, and there's fish over there."

"I think it's a lot of conversation," angler John Mankin said. "We had no problem whatsoever."

However, it is true that some of the good spots where a fisherman can find plenty of redfish are now apparently off limits.

Captain Marvin Tamez of Texas Parks and Wildlife, a state agency, has been flooded with calls from people concerned about the closure.

"Our fishermen are saying that they've been told by National Seashore officials, Coast Guard and possibly other agencies, that they cannot be in those waters," Tamez said. "From Bird Island Basin, from the line that's just east of the ICW, eastward down to the mouth of Baffin."

And all the way down to the Port Mansfield Jetties, a 65-mile stretch of waterway that all falls within the Padre Island National Seashore boundaries. Tamez said it is now closed due to the government shutdown.

"It's hitting me in the pocketbook right now," said Noe Garza, a licensed fishing guide. He can no longer launch from Bird Island, which is past the closed gate at the National Seashore. "So it's wasting time and money having to put an extra 22 miles on my boat."

Garza is one of several anglers who are now using the launch point under the JFK Causeway.

Despite the closure, Captain Tamez said the area is small compared to the acreage of water that is available for public use.

"The Intracoastal Waterway is not closed. Baffin Bay is not closed. The land cut is not closed," Tamez said. "The area that is closed is that land and water that lies within the Padre Island National Seashore boundaries."


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