The biggest news right now is February’s arctic blast that brought the longest run of sub-freezing temperatures to our coast since the 1980s. Lows dipped to 12°F along parts of the mid-coast, and water temperatures plummeted to the low-30s. Every bay from Matagorda to the Arroyo Colorado experienced fish-kills due to the cold.
Considerable numbers of dead fish of every species began collecting along shorelines as the weather moderated. A lot of fish died. Of greater importance, though, is how many survived?
Time will tell, and we will have to wait for TPWD’s annual population surveys to fully understand the impact. These data will not be available until sometime in summer. What can and should anglers be doing in the meantime?
First, I encourage everybody to go fishing! Fishing is a wonderful pastime that evolves into a lifestyle. Ditch the doom and gloom, get your tackle together, and get the boat in the water.
So, we’re out there fishing, and hopefully catching. What should we do with our catch? Pretty near everybody I know loves a fish dinner, but is striving for a limit or multiple limits on the boat the best thing to be doing right now? This is a personal decision, but if you were to evaluate all the aspects; isn’t catching fish the single greatest enjoyment the sport can offer?
If you’ve stuck with me this far, in light of the fact that we’ve just come through a fish-kill of some magnitude from Matagorda to the Arroyo, can I talk you to into releasing your fish…or maybe keeping only a few for dinner?
The best possible scenario for recovery of a fishery is to conserve before disaster strikes. It’s simple math, the more you have swimming before the event the more will survive to replenish the population. And this is why catch and release is so important right now to the future of our fishery.
The CCA Texas STAR Tournament hit the nail on the head with the announcement that the 2021 STAR Inshore Divisions will be restructured to full catch and release format. I say KUDOS! Ditto all other tourneys that follow suit.
To the guides who have pledged catch and release for trout on their 2021 charters; my hat is off to you, and I pray for your success!
I leave you with this thought: Sound management and good conservation built the fishery we enjoyed prior to the freeze. It might take a few years but these same principles are what will build it back better, and sooner.Please join me in doing your part to rebuild our fishery. Teach by example; encourage everybody you can to join this effort. Your kids and grandkids deserve no less.