As I said, I write articles from time to time and here's one that I thought would be perfect for my first blog on here. I'm a fishing guide so this subject really is important to me. In 2007 the daily speckled trout limit was reduced from 10 specks to 5 specks south of the Land Cut along the Texas Gulf Coast. The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department determined after eight years of research that there was a steady decline in the population of mid-size speckled trout from south of Port Mansfield. State biologist believe the decline was from an increase in fishing pressure and some slight over-harvesting by anglers. The decline was exclusive to speckled trout, no other fish species from south of Port Mansfield seemed to have any issues with a decline in population. Four years later there are some serious discussions of changing the daily bag limit for speckled trout all along the Texas Gulf Coast to 5 speckled trout per day.
My obvious question here is, is a lower bag limit really needed? If the answer is yes, then what should the daily limit be? According to most research done by the TP&W Dept. the mid to upper Texas coast is in good shape as far as speckled trout and overall species is concerned. The TP&W Dept. has scheduled a series of scoping meetings in Austin Texas on January 26th & 27th 2011 to outline any problems and discuss a range of management solutions. The TP&W Dept. will meet and will most likely reveal projected outcomes of any and all rule changes in these meetings. The good news for us is if a change is proposed, the rule would be posted on the Texas Register. This means that the public will be able to voice their opinions and make comments. If there is a major support in favor of change, this could lead to a vote in Austin during the March 31st commissions meeting. There could be no vote and no rule change if the public response is to just leave the rule as is.
It might be important to you to know how our fish population is researched and how outcomes are acquired. Statewide speckled trout abundance is gauged by spring gill nets and creel nets conducted by state coastal fisheries staff. According to their latest results speckled trout has held fairly steady over the past decade. In some recent years, rates of specks have been higher in some bay systems since the standardized surveys began in the 1970s. There has been a slight decline over the past couple of years. The surprising data is that the gill net catch rate of trout is still higher than it was for much of the 1980s and 1990s. According to the coastal fisheries staff, the numbers of speckled trout have not declined much over the past decade. Overall the fish population including speckled trout along the Texas Gulf Coast is steady, with some years better than others.
Regardless if you are in favor of a change or not, this is a very important matter if you are a Texas saltwater fishermen. This proposed rule change affects all gulf coast fishermen. I'm a fishing guide and I make my living catching speckled trout. What kind of an affect will this have on my business if this rule becomes law? On the other hand I understand that we have to think about our future fishery. My problem with all this is there are some biologists that believe a change is needed to assure that the trout population will prosper for years to come and others that say no change is need. After four years of a 5 trout limit regulation on the lower gulf coast, there are still mixed reviews. Again some say it hasn't changed the trout population at all while others say it as helped. I guess it all comes down to how we want to manage our fishery. There is a good chance that no rule will be proposed, but if it does go to a vote and passes it will go into effect September 1st 2001. I welcome your comments and opinions.
Capt. Alan Pereyra
Galveston Fishing Guides
Galveston Bay Fishing