Closing the Year in Grand Fashion

I grow weary of folks saying, "Can you believe it's December already... where did the year go?" Heck yeah it's December, where have you been for eleven months? About to celebrate my sixty-fourth birthday, I agree time flies. But let's not dwell on it lest I end up old before my time.

The way I see things shaping up, continued incredibly mild weather and such, I cannot help but believe we are about to enjoy the best fishing December has ever delivered. Water temperatures along the upper and middle Texas coast are still hanging in the upper-70s. Even warmer down in the Laguna Madre. Tides are bulled up like we expect in early-October and trout and reds are gobbling everything they can get in their mouths. Beats all I've ever seen!

We have had a few fronts but even the coolest mornings were still well up in the 50s. I didn't even see snow on my hunting trip to northern Ontario in October. Being a dedicated waterfowler and trophy trout nut has me yearning for winter but I'm having the time of my life the way it is. Trying to predict what might lie ahead is impossible as I have never been here.

I gave some thought to researching whether weather phenomena as we are currently enjoying might have prefaced years of record freezes along the coast, but the very thought of possibly losing a big part of the current fishery was too sad and I couldn't bring myself to do it. Let us just pray that we will eventually have a normal winter even if it arrives later than normal.

Startling news from over east, Mississippi's Commission of Marine Resources (think TPWD-Coastal Fisheries) is proposing a closure on keeping speckled trout between January 1 and March 31. The proposal is aimed at correcting a slump they have been noting in spawning potential ratio and will apply only to 2017, although it could be repeated in 2018 if the desired uptick is not achieved. Catch and release angling would be permitted. Along with this closure, there is also a provision for raising the minimum length for specks from the current 13-inches to 15-inches. No mention was made to reducing the daily bag limit from the current 15 fish.

The primary reason cited was the number of mature specks taken from rivers when temperatures plunge. In other words CMR is looking to reserve large spawners from harvest when they are most vulnerable.

Now with continuously shrinking habitat and increasing angling pressure everywhere, all Gulf Coast inshore fisheries must be managed carefully. This is a given. I am however quite surprised to see a three-month closure being proposed in the first round of regulatory changes.

I have said this many times; Texas anglers are blessed. While some may not always agree with TPWD, closed season has never been mentioned; at least I haven't heard it. The closest we've come is a one month flounder gigging ban but the effect has been entirely positive and we can still take two per day on rod and reel.

Merry Christmas!