Fighting for your Rights -Bowfishing Lake Houston - 2CoolFishing
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Old 04-23-2010, 01:10 AM   #1
fishermayne
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Fighting for your Rights -Bowfishing Lake Houston

I just wanted to update everyone on the status of bowfishing on Lake Houston. I sent Sgt. Tolan Harding, who is in charge of Lake Patrol on Lake Houston an email yesterday. He is in charge of enforcing the law on the lake, and as it is currently written, it is illegal to discharge a bow. It doesn't matter whether you are hunting or fishing, it is illegal.

Here is what I sent Sgt. Harding yesterday


Officer Harding,

I would like to start by saying that I have the utmost respect for law officers, and I have two cousins that are Harris County Sheriffs. I am writing you because it has been brought to my attention that Lake Houston Patrol is now writing tickets for Bowfishing on Lake Houston. I am an avid angler and have been fishing Lake Houston for over 20 years. I primarily fish for bass and crappie, but unfortunatly the gar population in Lake Houston have become so out of control that many of the small creeks and flats were bass and crappie were once found, are now overrun with gar. It is not uncommon to find 20 or 30 gar in a creek less than 200 yards long. They ambush any game fish that tries to come by and they eventually run the game fish out of that area. The gar have no natural predators in this region and no one fishes for them because they are considered a trash fish. The result is an overabundence of gar. I have tried many tactics to get rid of these gar, but it seems that the only method that is effective is to take them with a bow. I am not doing this for fun, I am doing this because if I don't, no one else will. I am doing this because someone has to do something to stop these creatures from damaging the game fish population in the lake to a point where the effects are irreversable.

I have contacted several city Council Members to see what it would take to get this ordinance changed and they were unaware that such an ordinance existed. I asked them what it would take to get this law changed, and one of the council members actually told me that this is not a priority and that they have more important issues to deal with. I was shocked that I got a response like that, but I was not discouraged. The council woman did not realize that I have an Uncle who is a retired lawyer and an avid angler. I spoke with him and he looked up the regulation that prevents bowfishing, and he thinks that it is a law that prohibits "practicing archery" in Lake Houston City Park. He said that if that is the case, the law is being missaplyed to bowfishing and that giving a ticket to a bowfisher is violating the spirit of the law.

I just wanted to find out if this is the law that is being used to ban bowfishing on the creeks and tributaries that feed into Lake Houston?

If this is the statute that is being used, I was wondering who I can contact at HPD so that I can have an officer come watch me safely discharge my bow and issue me a citation. I am going to put an end to this nonsense, and after I receive my citation we are going to file suit against the City of Houston Parks Department. Texas Parks and Wildlife recognizes bowfishing as a legitimate way to attain non game fish, and the perch jerkers on the City Council should not be overriding TPWD decision. I think that it is ridiculous that HPD is going after anglers who are trying to improve the game fish habitat for all to enjoy. I know that change is not going to come overnight, but filing a suit will force City Council to do there job and reexamine the statute. I know that breaking the law is not the ideal solution, but even Martin Luther King had to spend a night in jail before he was able to enjoy his god given rights.

Best Regards,

Brandon

Here was his reply:

Thank you for your e-mail regarding bow fishing on Lake Houston. Currently bow fishing on Lake Houston is prohibited by city ordinance. Specifically, Chapter 32, Section 32-34, "Hunting and Firearms" No person shall hunt any animal or shoot, fire or discharge any pistol, shotgun or rifle, other firearm or archery arrow in, on, along or across the parks. The provisions of this sections shall not apply to designated target ranges.
The waters of Lake Houston are considered a city park and as such are governed by Chapters 23 and 32 of the Code of Ordinances for the City of Houston.
Council Member Mike Sullivan is the Council Member for the Kingwood area that encompasses Lake Houston. City Council would have to amend Chapter 32 to allow discharging of an archery arrow on Lake Houston.
I can not endorse or encourage you to commit an act that would be a violation of city ordinance. However, if you are observed discharging an arrow in, on, along or across Lake Houston appropriate law enforcement action will be taken.
Please feel free to contact me if I can be of further assistance to you.

Tolan W. Harding, Sergeant
Houston Police Department
Tactical Operations Division, Marine Unit - Lake Patrol
281 324 2250 office
281 324 2764 fax

Here was my response, I am still waiting for him to reply. If he doesn't respond, I will contact Council Member Mike Sullivan. We are going to get this taken care of one way or another.

Sgt. Tolan,

Thank you for getting back with me. I have contacted several city council members, but have not yet contacted Councilman Mike Sullivan. I will try to go through him before taking this matter through the judicial system. Hopefully he will give this matter more consideration than the other council members I contacted. I have already began collecting signatures to take to the city council meeting and was wondering if all of the citations that were issued for practicing archery on Lake Houston are public record? I think some of the people who have already been fined would be interested in helping us fight this bureaucratic battle.

I would also like to get your input on how you think this ordinance should be amended to allow legitimate bowfishing, without putting the public safety at risk. I was looking at the ordinance and it looks like this law was intended to protect people enjoying the park areas, such as Duessen Park, from being hit with a stray arrow. This is obviously a legitimate concern and I would not want a bystander to get injured from an errant arrow from someone practicing archery.

However, the difference is Archery and Bowfishing are not the same sport. In archery the shooter is shooting an arrow that can travel over 300 yards. In bowfishing the arrow is actually attached to the bow with a string. Therefore an arrow can only stray as far as the line is long. Most of the gar, carp, and tilapia that are shot are within 10 yards of the fisher, and most bowfishing lines are 40 yards or less. Therefore if you are more than 150 ft from the archer you are safe. Bowfishing is also different from archery in that you are always shooting down, into the water. With regular hunting you are shooting at a parallel angle or upward angle, to hit an object that is generally above sea level. This allows for the arrow to have a much larger danger zone. Simple physics will dictate that by shooting at a downward angle you are greatly minimizing the "danger" zone.

Furthermore, I would like to point out that the areas where people generally bowfish are the shallow creeks and tributaries that feed into Lake Houston, and not in the main portion of the lake itself. These areas are generally to shallow for recreational boaters and the only people who are in these secluded creeks are people who are out there bowfishing themselves. In all actuality the only people who utilize these waters are bowfishers, and most of these areas are so overpopulated with gar that you can't even fish for game fish there anymore.

I have done some research and found that almost all of the Lakes in Texas allow bowfishing. TPWD views bowfishing as a safe and legal way to capture non-game fish. The officials that regulate Lake Conroe, Lake Livingston, and Lake Sommerville all agree with TPWD and allow bowfishing and I can not find one reported instance of where a bystander was injured due to bowfishing.

I think that while this ordinance has the publics safety in mind, its based on fear and not facts. The facts are that Bowfishing is a legitimate means to catch fish recognized by TPWD. It is beneficial to the local ecosysytem and helps improve the habitat for our game fish species. And there is absolutely no evidence that supports that there is a need to ban bowfishing on Lake Houston in an attempt to provide for public safety.


I would like to get your input on how you think this ordinance should best be amended to allow bowfishing, while still making the public feel safe? Do you think that it should be limited by location (ie. Allowed in any water North of the 1960 Bridge). Or maybe it can be allowed as long as there are no bystanders within 100 yards? I just wanted to get your input since you are an Angler and are on the lake everyday and probably know more about this issue then all of the members on the City Council combined.

Best Regards,

Brandon
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Old 04-24-2010, 06:52 AM   #2
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Any response from Sgt. Tolan ?
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Old 04-24-2010, 07:50 AM   #3
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here is some more ammo for you, since they are using section 32 as the guide. ask them to explain this section, and why aren't they writing tickets for it?

Sec. 32-35. - Fishing.

No person shall catch fish within the parks. It shall be an affirmative defense to prosecution under this section that the actor is: (1)
Fishing in an area of Lake Houston in which fishing is permitted under this Code; or

(2)
Twelve years of age or less or 65 years of age or more and is fishing in any body of water which has been designated for fishing by children and elderly persons by regulation of the director pursuant to section 32-5 of this Code.


I will get some emails sent out also.
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Old 04-25-2010, 11:36 PM   #4
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I have not received a response from Sgt. Tolan yet. I will update the post as soon as I hear back from him.
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Old 04-25-2010, 11:45 PM   #5
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Doesn't say a thing about spearfishing, you should get a mask, snorkel, and a speargun. Host a "Lake Houston Garfish Rodeo" and invite some Louisiana dive clubs.
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Old 04-26-2010, 02:25 PM   #6
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My response to Mr. Fnat's email is below. I am unable to upload the .pdf document but the link to the LCRA regulations is:
http://www.lcra.org/library/media/pu...egulations.pdf

Dear Mr. Fant,
I will try to answer all your questions below:
I would imagine that the tickets are public record, you would need to contact the Houston Municipal Court, 1400 Lubbock, Houston TX 713-837-0311.

I think a good model for the regulation of bow fishing is the LCRA regulation. I have attached a copy.
Another resource to contact id the Parks and Recreation Department, as they are one of the controlling departments for Lake Houston. They may be more inclined to help modify the ordinance.
Thank you for your concern.


Tolan W. Harding, Sergeant
Houston Police Department
Tactical Operations Division, Marine Unit - Lake Patrol
281 324 2250 office
281 324 2764 fax
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Old 05-12-2010, 02:17 PM   #7
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Lake Ray Hubbard and the City of Dallas also has the same Ordinance. Although bowfishing does go on at that lake and after contacting the TPWD, the CORP and even the City of Dallas, we held a tournament in which we were promptly kicked off. The following Monday it took a lawyer the better part of a morning to find the rule. There are also rules like this in South Texas counties about discharging arrows into the river bed. The rule was put in place to keep people from hunting deer from the river, but getting our Legislative leaders to ammend the ordiance to state the bowfishing is allowed is very hard to do. Also, these same lakes keep their hands out for TPWD grant money for restocking and such, but discriminate against some lawful fishing techniques. I think if you are asking and getting money from our Pitman Robertson Act taxes, then ALL legal fishing means should be allowed.
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Old 05-16-2010, 08:43 PM   #8
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any new update on this?
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Old 05-16-2010, 09:23 PM   #9
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Texasflag4

Lake Houston has to many none game fish speices in it, and not enough game fish, TPW quit stocking fish in lake Houston when the city of Houston took over. If they are not going to allow bow hunting to help remove some of the none game fish from the lake, at least they could start a stocking program, and improve the quality of the fishing in the lake. lake Houston was and still is a good place to fish, but it could be so much better if they allowed any method of removing at least some of the none gamefish from the lake. Keep trying mabey some day they will get it, good luck.
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Old 05-16-2010, 09:39 PM   #10
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Is it O.K. if I send this thread to Mike Sullivan and a few others here in Kingwood asking for their support to allow this sport on Lake Houston, specifically around Rivergrove Park?

I understand about enforcing the laws, but it seems they only enforced laws if the City of Houston makes money on the enforcement or there are lives threatened, and Heaven knows bow fishing in a swamp is just good sport and recreation. This is a Texas tradition that can not perish at the hands of administrators.
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