Jam-Packed July!

Summertime fishing is living up to expectations in just about every way, in every bay from Sabine to South Padre. I cannot recall better trout fishing than we are currently enjoying on the Middle Coast. Stop on just about any stretch of shoreline between Matagorda, Port O’Connor, and Rockport and you are likely to hit the jackpot. Isn’t it amazing what three years of normal precipitation and a five-fish bag limit can deliver?

I mentioned East Matagorda Bay recently, quoting Capt. Bink Grimes on the uncommon abundance of five-pound specks in that estuary. Well, there’s lots of bigger ones, too. Within the first ten days of the CCA STAR Tournament, the Middle Coast Speckled Trout Leaderboard was filled with five entries, all from the Matagorda region. The lightest of the five weighed a respectable 8-pounds and 6-ounces. The division-leading behemoth tipped the scale to 9-pounds and 10-ounces. Upper Coast anglers have put two fish on the board and thus far Lower Coast anglers have posted up a single entry. That’s what I mean when I say Middle Coast trout fishing is the best I can recall.

Management of Texas’ oyster fishery and the commercial oyster industry are about to undergo some huge changes. House Bill 51 passed the Texas house and made its way through the senate. The next step will be scoping of public opinion. TPWD will be holding meetings this summer in which the public is invited to provide comment on the regulatory changes being proposed. We have a very informative piece this month from Shane Bonnot in the Conservation Section. I encourage readers to give it a careful review and participate in one of the public comment sessions.

If you are wondering what all this oyster hoopla is about, consider this. Texas has made enormous strides in the conservation of seagrass, given the vital role seagrasses play in estuarian ecology. In Shane’s article you will learn that oysters are even more important.

Twenty-seven additional days for red snapper in federal waters this summer? As improbable as it sounds it could actually happen. Amid the uncertainties and disappointments the recreation sector has suffered under the so-called management of this fishery, dished out via NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service and the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council, a very unexpected offer is on the table for Gulf states fisheries management agencies to consider. The US Department of Commerce has superseded NOAA and NMFS authority, reaching out directly to the state agencies.

What appears a stunning breakthrough at first glance, the five Gulf states would have to agree to certain closures of their respective state water red snapper fisheries to gain the additional days being proposed. Here in Texas, TPWD allows a 365-day red snapper season with a bag limit of four fish. The question that looms is whether Texas and the other states will be willing to concede their sovereign right to manage this fishery. Guarded optimism is the byword, for now. Stay tuned…this is going to be very interesting.

Register the kids for the CCA STAR and take them fishing!