New Challenges and New Opportunity

Everett Johnson

The approach of a new year means many things for fishermen. The middle of the Texas winter means hardcore speckled trout aficionados will be bundling in all their gear to impersonate the Michelin Man and seek a lifetime fish. I'll be there, numb fingers and nose, fishing hard and hoping. If hard work and suffering heighten the trophy experience; we should have all the right ingredients working for us.

The excitement and merriment of boat and fishing shows are always a highlight, if for no other reason than checking out what's new from boat and tackle manufacturers and reuniting with friends we seem only to catch up with in these venues.

Offshore enthusiasts will be busy with maintenance chores they put off during warmer months and anxiously checking long range forecasts in hope of dashing out for a quickie state water red snapper run.

Kayakers will enjoy the solitude they dream of all year while prowling the flats for voracious winter reds. Finding eager schools that can number in the hundreds and having them all to oneself is definitely one of the benefits of braving the elements. If I am ever to learn fly-fishing it will likely be in such a target-rich scenario where almost every presentation can draw a strike.

Last year had everybody buzzing about the probability of a severe freeze descending upon coastal Texas. Seems lots of folks believe freezes follow hurricanes and Ol' Ike certainly was a dandy. But if you ask me, I am more worried this year. After all the weather extremes of 2009 I shudder to think this could be the year. January has a bad reputation for this so keep your fingers crossed. We had snow last Friday here in Seadrift which is a very rare event and the mercury fell to 25-degrees after the skies cleared. This was a record-setter for the date and I hope not to see any other records toppled in the next couple of months. Our mid-coast seatrout fishery could hardly stand such a devastating blow. After being blessed with twenty mild winters, I know it's asking for a lot, but I'm praying for several more to aid the rebound of this fishery.

The new year always brings hope of greater economic fortune and we could certainly use a lift right about now. If the economic forecasts and politicians can be believed, we have seen the worst. I'm holding this right alongside my dream that everybody will catch a ten pound trout this winter. But if we can't have both, I'll accept the economic recovery and we can all get our big fish next year. I've been waiting fifty-seven years for that trout so another year will just make it that much more special. We need the economic boost right now, though.

From a personal perspective, 2010 is going to be a very busy year. I have been appointed to TPWD's Coastal Resource Advisory Committee and will also begin serving as a representative of recreational fishing interests in the effort Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has named the Basin and Bay Stakeholders Environmental Flows Committee. Reserving river flow in the interest of promoting sustainability of our bays and estuaries is a new chapter in Texas water resource management and one that all coastal fishermen should become involved in. I feel truly honored in these appointments and am excited to become involved in both as each has very significant potential to shape the future of coastal fisheries and recreational angling in Texas. I pray that I can live up to the expectation of all the fine folks who recommended my appointments. Our resources and angling traditions deserve our finest stewardship to insure they are passed to future generations in better shape than we received them.

Happy New Year!