The Mysteries of Speckled Trout Migration

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A study by the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission (GSMFC) report shows that one researcher tagged more than 2600 speckled trout and received 50 returns. Of these, 20 came from the release point. Similar findings were reported by researcher Rogillio with 98 percent of the returns coming within 1.5 kilometers of the release point.

Their report details that in Texas, of 20,912 tagged trout released in Texas marine waters, 1367 were recaptured. About 84 percent were caught in the same bay where released; eight percent were caught in another bay; and five were recaptured in the Gulf. Of 588 spotted seatrout tagged in the Gulf surf, 14 were recaptured, 12 in the Gulf and two in Texas bays.

Researcher Laura Payne wrote a thesis on trout migration within the Laguna Madre system.

“Anecdotal information suggests that spotted seatrout migrate from near-shore waters into bays to spawn and that these migratory fish may sustain populations of spotted seatrout within the Laguna Madre system. To further explore spotted seatrout movement patterns both laboratory tagging trials and acoustic tracking technology was employed to investigate movement patterns on a large-scale.”

In the study a total of 81 speckled trout were captured via hook and line between Dec. 2009 and Oct. 2010 and implanted with acoustic tags: 31 within bay waters, 30 fish from surf zones, and 20 live-release tournament fish.

“We found an overall minimal survival rate of 70 percent between angler recaptures and receiver detections. Many long distance travels were recorded and movement patterns varied greatly. Seventy-five percent of fish tagged in surf waters were detected on our receivers in tidal inlets, and two fish from the Upper Laguna Madre were detected leaving the Laguna into Corpus Christi Bay.”

“These data suggest Gulf-bay and inter-bay mixing of spotted seatrout populations. The high percentage of angler recaptures validates previous studies that determined catch-and-release practices are viable to help maintain healthy fish stocks.”

From staff reports


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