SAN ANGELO, Texas — Texas Parks and Wildlife District Fisheries Biologist Lynn Wright has seen every type of fish in the waters of West Texas. He has seen a 10-pound catfish, bass and even a goldfish. There is one fishing lurking in the waters that has caught his attention.
"They look like pan fish. They are very flat and narrow shaped fish they can get up to over 10 pounds in size," Wright said.
The fish Wright is referring to is the tilapia. It is a tropical fish native to Africa, and because of people farming this fish for its white meat, it is now all over the world.
In Texas, the tilapia is on the state's prohibited list. Anyone who catches the fish is not supposed to keep them alive or transport them to another body of water.
"We do have a lot of lakes in Texas, and we put the the word out you don't have to release these fish," Wright said.
Wright, along with many others of the members of the Texas Parks and Wildlife, encourage fishers to keep the fish and turn it into their next meal.
"Yeah if you like eating fish, go somewhere where there is tilapia, by all means harvest everyone you catch," Wright said.
There is no regulations to how many tilapia you catch or the size. Just do not throw them back in the water.
Despite not being a native species to West Texas the tilapia poses no serious threat to the ecosystem.
"Yeah I don't expect tilapia to be a problem here, because we do typically get cold enough in the winter time, they shouldn't survive in our waters," Wright said.
Tilapia are better suited for warmer waters. The fish can be located near power plants and if you happen to catch the fish remember to not throw back in the water.