No Such Thing as Status Quo

I used to hope, even believed for a time, that if I preached to enough people and created enough passion, encouraged enough "thinking beyond the box" my little play on words with reference to the ice chest full of fish brought to the dock for bragging more than needed food a new and better conservation ethic would emerge and anglers would petition TPWD for more conservative seatrout management.

One obvious benefit of reducing the speck harvest could have been a steadily increasing number of "exciting" fish landed as the fishery improved "exciting" being five-plus-pounders up to double digits and maybe even a new state record or two.

Also highly beneficial could have been increased spawning biomass in each of our bay systems which biologists say is the quickest ticket to a speedy recovery following widespread natural mortality freezes and toxic algal blooms.

Apart from the fact that I am a big trout fanatic (selfish motivation showing), if you consider our responsibility as consumptive-user stewards, it shouldn't take long to understand there can be no long term reward in managing for status quo. Like free lunch, there is no true status quo. So, if that's true, why not manage for a higher quality outcome?

There will never be status quo as regards fisheries management, simply because nothing in the management equation stays the same. The Texas population is growing like a bad weed, which means more new anglers come to the coast each year and, the vibrant energy-based Texas economy enables them to fish lots of days.

Another major variable in the management equation is steadily shrinking habitat. Simply put, our bays and estuaries cannot produce as much marine life as they once did and the burgeoning population is the biggest culprit. A growing population has growing water needs and therefore inflow to estuaries will decline steadily over time. Pollution in various forms some that we understand and attempt to control and some that we do not will also limit productivity. Development of coastal real estate gobbling up wetlands and altering local watersheds will also exact a toll on productivity.

So when you add all these things together, there should be no doubt as to the future status of our inshore fisheries, unless of course we learn to be better stewards and conserve the resources still within our grasp and even this will require tweaks and adjustments going forward.

TPWD asked Texas anglers what they wanted from their spotted seatrout fishery in scoping meetings back in December 2010 and the result was roughly a 50-50 split for quality more than quantity which I found pretty remarkable given the volatility of the topic. However, the 50% who opposed were very loud in their opposition. Lacking a clear majority of public support, no action was taken at that time, only a promise to keep an eye on things and make changes later if necessary.

I haven't given up on my dream of a much improved fishery for the middle Texas coast, it might still happen some day.
Meanwhile I spend as time as I can in the Lower Laguna where the five fish limit has wrought wonderful results.