May promises to be a very busy month. Already the numbers of boats on the water appears to be reaching a record, even with a flat energy economy that is generally believed to discourage anglers with energy-related jobs. One thing is certain though, fishing has been very good along the middle and lower coast so far this spring, and this carries a lot of weight. So, from whatever walk of life or economic situation, lots of folks are going fishing.
One of May’s highlights is the kick-off of the summer-long CCA Texas STAR Tournament. The excitement and competition gets underway on Memorial Weekend at sunrise on Saturday May 27, 2017 and continues through 5:00 PM, Labor Day. Each year we hear disappointing tales of anglers missing out on great prizes and scholarships because they failed to register, or went fishing believing that being a member in good standing of CCA Texas was all that was necessary to be eligible. Take heed! You must be registered to win! Contact CCA Texas at 713-626-4222 or at CCATexas.org for more details.
Another May highlight is the winding down of the school year. I remember my own school years like yesterday and the excitement of family fishing and camping trips during summer. Introducing young people to the outdoors, especially our great coastline, can be one of the greatest gifts you can bestow. Life-changing, in fact. I fear that indoor activities such as electronic devices and games are robbing our younger generation of opportunities that we enjoyed. A summer is a terrible thing to waste. Take kids fishing. Teach them the wonders of the natural world. Teach them good sporting ethic and the reasons we practice conservation.
On the conservation front – oysters are gaining headlines – and for good reason. In addition to filling dinner plates, oysters are the subject of heated debate in our state legislature. Having been dealt a succession of staggering blows, beginning with Hurricane Ike silting over nearly all actively-producing reefs in the Galveston Bay System, and then five years of coastwide drought during which they suffered from the effects of prolonged high salinity, followed by two years of record-setting fresh inflow, Texas oysters are in great peril.
While oysters are a highly-renewable resource, they need time, several years actually, to re-establish themselves. And so far they have not been getting it. Harvest regulations need to change. The oyster fishing industry needs to change. TPWD has the power to close areas where the percentage of undersize oysters exceeds established limits – but enacting closures alone is hardly a panacea.
The commercial fleet moves en masse to areas still open, and/or adopts ever-shallower harvest methods; dredging around homeowner’s piers, even handpicking oysters from water too shallow to dredge.Texas House Bill-51, intended primarily to provide a license buy-back program and thereby reduce participation, has unintentionally ignited a firestorm. Some commercial interests support the measure but resistance has been fierce from others. How it plays out will remain to be seen. CCA Texas encourages that you contact your state legislators in support. Oysters are a very important resource that greatly enhance game fish habitat.