As we reported last week, the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) is hosting a series of meetings in January to “scope” public thoughts on potential regulation changes.
While no official proposals are made at these meetings (that will be held at the Jan. 22-23 Commission hearings) they give a good idea on what TPWD are considering and why.
So with that said here is information directly from TPWD on considerations for the speckled trout and flounder fisheries.
Speckled Trout: Currently the daily bag limit for spotted seatrout is 10 fish with a minimum size limit of 15 inches and a maximum size limit of 25 inches outside of the lower Laguna Madre.
Within the lower Laguna Madre (LLM) the daily bag limit and possession limit is 5 fish with a 15-inch minimum size limit and a 25-inch maximum size limit. One fish over 25 inches is allowed per person per day and counts as part of the daily bag limit coastwide.
The regulations within the LLM were instituted to stop and reverse the downward trend in overall abundance and spawning biomass in the region, and to ensure that fish reach larger size classes. The fishery in the LLM has benefited from these regulations.
As these regulations have proven beneficial in the LLM, the department is considering expanding these regulations, or a variation thereof, to other areas along the coast. Possible variations could include expanding the 5-fish bag limit or other bag limit reductions coastwide, to specific bay systems, or regions. The option of applying a sunset date to these potential regulation changes could be considered by TPWD. While the department does not have a formal proposal at this time, it seeks public comment regarding management options for this fishery.
Flounder: Currently the daily bag limit and possession limit for recreational anglers is 5 fish with a 14-inch minimum size limit. However, in November the daily bag limit and possession limit is reduced to 2 fish. Fish may only be taken by hook-and-line (no gigging) during November.
The reduced bag and hook-and-line only regulations were put in place to allow adult flounder to leave the bay and spawn in the Gulf. This is commonly referred to as the flounder run, which occurs in late fall. These regulations have resulted in improvements in the flounder fishery. However, depending on the arrival of the first cold fronts, these flounder runs may occur earlier or later than November.
To further protect and enhance this fishery, the department has other management strategies it can implement, including extending the special November regulations back into October or further into December. The option of applying a sunset date to these potential regulation changes could be considered by TPWD. While the department does not have a formal proposal at this time, TPWD seeks public input regarding management options for this fishery.
Chester Moore, Jr.