Parks, Wildlife extends speckled trout limit in some areas
Love it or hate it, if you fish south of the swing bridge in Sargent, less speckled trout will be hitting the grease come Sept. 1.
As part of the 2014-15 Statewide Recreational and Commercial Fishing Proclamation, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department adopted rules to extend a five-trout bag limit, currently in effect in the Lower Laguna Madre and up the coast through the Farm-to-Market 457 bridge.
TPWD set a two-day possession limit - 10 fish in possession - for the five-trout region as well.
Emotions are mixed regarding the effect of the new regulations, especially in the charter boat industry. Some believe potential clients will flood to Galveston Bay and Sabine Lake since regulations there remain at 10 trout per person per day. Others feel the new regulations will only improve the trout population, thereby bringing more anglers to the area.
"I really do not believe it is going to hurt my business at all," said guide Tommy Alexander, of Matagorda. "I think it is going to take pressure off our bays, and our fishing will only get better."
Others, including seasoned pros like guides James Plaag and Charlie Paradoski, don't like the idea.
"They didn't change the regulations here on Galveston Bay, but I am worried it might put more pressure on our bay," said Plaag. "Our fishing has been great this year, and I hate to see changes."
Paradoski believes people deserve 10 trout and thinks Matagorda Bay is full of fish.
"The biologists say our fish are doing just fine, so I don't understand the change in regulations," Paradoski said.
Though TPWD has never admitted it, many anglers believe the new trout regulations were put in to practice to address the summer croaker fishing season. Croakers are deadly on speckled trout, garnering a bite even in the toughest conditions, and many believe fishing with croakers for speckled trout puts stress on the population.
Since croakers are not listed as a game fish, restrictions cannot be legally placed on their use concerning trout. However, a reduction in the trout-bag limits, many believe, will take stress off the trout population.
"Croakers are deadly, no doubt," admitted guide Ray Sexton, a croaker fishing specialist in Palacios. "I try to protect trout every day, and I am happy with the new regulations. Five trout per person is enough fish for anyone."
Flounder regulations were also changed to a more restrictive harvest. The TPWD extended the two-flounder-per-day bag limit currently in effect for November into the first two weeks of December. During these first two weeks of December, harvest would be allowed by any legal means, including gigging. Currently, gigging is not allowed during November.
"Our flounder fishing has improved since the limit went from 10 to five," said guide Mark Talasek. "I am all for it."
These new regulations take effect at midnight Sept. 1.
Bink Grimes is a freelance writer, photographer, author and licensed captain. Email him at email@example.com.