It’s been one month since the regulation change on how many speckled trout can be kept from along the Texas middle coast. Beginning Sept. 1 the daily bag and possession limit of speckled trout dropped from 10 per day/20 in possession to 5 per day/10 in possession in Texas Coastal water south of FM 457 in Matagorda County.
Upper coast stays at 10 per day/20 in possession because of angler/guide opposition. “There was a lot of negative feedback from fishing guides and anglers. One popular comment often heard was, ‘If I can only take five fish home, it’s not worth going fishing,’” said Mark Fisher, Science Director for Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept. (TPWD).
The goal behind the regulation change is to improve the speckled trout fishery by increasing the number of adult fish in the population. “By modestly reducing harvest of speckled trout by about 14 percent, the spawning stock biomass should increase total weight of sexually mature female trout by about 16.5 percent,” said Fisher.
The increase should result in more trout spawned, boosting the overall trout population and helping insulate the fishery from dramatic declines through natural occurrences.
Fisher estimates the benefits of the rule change should be visible in 3-5 years and show up in the agency’s samplings of the fishery and angler catches.
The five bag limit has been in effect in the Lower Laguna Madre since 2005.
Fisher said TPWD received a lot of the same sentiment in the Lower Laguna when discussion began on lowering the trout limits along the lower coast. “The guides were telling us they were going to lose clients. They will go other places on the coast. The opposite actually occurred; their businesses increased. Now we have guides in the Lower Laguna that were opposed to it, tell us the changes are the best thing we ever did for them.”
Fisher continues: “Cutting back from 10-5 should increase trout population. There will be more and larger fish as the result. It takes at least three years to see results, and up to five to be fully implemented. The anglers along the lower coast have had long enough time to start seeing the results,” says Fisher. “That’s why it has been accepted down there.”
The regulation changes dies in 5 years unless it gets renewed.