Spring Swing

March 20 marks the official beginning of spring and coastal bay anglers across Texas are already getting into the swing of it. From an ecological perspective it is impossible not to be excited. Prolonged drought has been a nemesis of fishing success and, while I'm not ready to say the drought is over just yet, I will say that Mother Nature has been very generous lately.

Rainfall of nearly thirty inches since last September along middle and lower coast regions has been a great blessing. Bay salinities have been running more toward historic averages since the rain started falling, versus hyper-saline or nearly hyper-saline conditions that prevailed for several years in several major bay systems. The general consensus of seasoned anglers and biologists is that fishing, trout fishing in particular, is always better in wetter than dry years. If indeed this is true we could be headed toward banner spring and summer seasons.

Looking to the future of trout fishing, many anglers are also hopefully awaiting a rebound in the general availability of "keeper-size" and trophy fish. It will require several years, about three to four years usually (half the normal lifespan) to see the full effect but, rather than seeing stocks dwindling by mid-summer, the new five-fish daily bag limit on the middle coast should also contribute to steadier season-long landings.

Fishing enthusiasm is running high this year. Ask any exhibitor at the recent Houston Fishing Show. "Best show in many years," was the resounding opinion.

Sharing the water will become increasingly important as throngs of anglers head to the bays. We hear often how crowded it is getting out there. Sportsmanship and plain old-fashioned patience at launch ramps, along shorelines, and other popular locales will be needed in ever-growing amounts. When you find yourself wondering how close is too close, you probably need to idle away and find another spot.

Drifting in, to get out and wade, or using a troll motor to reach a position is always a better idea than powering into an already busy stretch of shoreline. Ditto setting a drift that might carry your boat too near other drifters or anchored anglers fishing a reef. Drifting through a line of wading anglers is especially poor form and, likewise, crawling out of a boat to wade in the obvious path of drifters.

We have a wondrous coast and literally hundreds of thousands of anxious anglers will be hitting the water soon. Whether your destination is bay or beach, practicing good citizenship will help insure that everybody can enjoy it equally.

Conservation of coastal resources should also be at the top of the spring list. Take enough for a nice meal and respect the environment. Don't be a litter bug and please do not chop up the sea grass!