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Boats to flood water as summer start nears

May 18, 2014 at 12:18 a.m.

May has been a tough month for consistent catches with late-season cold fronts and winds blowing in every direction.

Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer. It will be a first for many: First time some boats have seen the light of day since last summer, first time a cast has been made this summer, and the first time winter skin has seen sunlight.

Increased boat traffic, especially from inexperienced boaters, elevates the probability for an accident. Mix those elements with an alcoholic beverage, and the percentage for disaster skyrockets.

Expect increased patrols from Texas Game Wardens and local law enforcement with the heightened traffic. Treat the boat like you would a motor vehicle, unless, of course, you don't obey drinking and driving laws. Boating while intoxicated (BWI) is a serious offense and carries the same penalties as a DWI, so don't ruin your holiday weekend by being stupid.

Texas Parks and Wildlife reported a 24-year-old Baytown man was found guilty in April of manslaughter and aggravated assault in connection with an alcohol-related boating accident on Memorial Day weekend May 2012.

The Chambers County boating crash occurred in a bayou on Lost Lake and claimed the life of Baytown resident Tyler Enderli.

Alcohol consumption and reckless operation were shown to be contributing factors in the accident.

Game Wardens will also be checking for basic boating requirements: life jackets, fire extinguishers, noise-making devices, a throwable floatation device and up-to-date boat registration.

Be aware of skiers, tubers and jet skis. Steer clear of other boats and idle in "no wake" zones. Basically, give others the respect you would hope to receive.

Gulf shrimp seasonclosed for now

Thirty pounds of spicy Gulf shrimp hit the boiling pot this week as I fed two dozen East Texans after a day of fishing.

The crustaceans were fresh and caught the day before by Buddy Treybig off the Matagorda beachfront.

The Gulf of Mexico commercial shrimp season for Texas and federal waters closed May 15, and it's reopening date has not been determined.

That doesn't mean we are in for a shrimp shortage during the next two months; there are plenty in reserve at the local fish house. The closure is nothing new; it happens every year about this time and normally reopens July 15.

According to TPWD biologists, cooler spring temperatures and higher salinities appear to have slowed growth rates in shrimp, and I can't remember a spring when bait shrimp were so hard to find.

Bait camps up and down the coast have struggled to keep live-shrimp tanks full, and the effect has trickled down to the charter boat industry.

Data suggest the closure affords protection to small shrimp as they begin their movement from the bays to the gulf.

The Texas closure applies to Gulf waters from the coast out to 9 nautical miles. The National Marine Fisheries Service announced federal waters out to 200 nautical miles also will be closed to shrimping to confirm to the Texas closure.

CCA STAR begins Saturday

The Coastal Conservation Association's annual STAR Tournament begins Saturday.

Used primarily as a membership drive, CCA's summerlong tourney includes prizes such as new boats for the largest speckled trout and tagged redfish while offering scholarship opportunities for college-bound youth.

Boats and scholarships are also offered for some of the less targeted species such as sheepshead, gafftop and flounder.

Go to ccatexas.org for more information.

Bink Grimes is a freelance writer, photographer, author and licensed captain (binkgrimes@sbcglobal.net.

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