Yep; it’s here, it’s real…Happy New Year!

January is a great fishing month; our writers have packed this issue with hints and tips for your success. But you have to get on the water to enjoy it.

I can’t think of a bigger waste of time than moping on the couch – rolled in a blanket like a sausage kolache because it’s a bit chilly or windy. Get over it already and get outdoors. Winter can be a ton of fun. And take the kids and grandkids. They’ll love you for it.

Parents gripe about kids glued to Smartphones; but whose fault is that? Kids aren’t born with them attached to their hands any more than adults are born in front of televisions watching football. Monkey see, monkey do.

While the weekend weather might not be ideal for fishing; what about taking them hunting?

Have you considered taking them to Sea Center Texas? I’ve been several times and  always come away impressed.

Boat and sport shows can be fun for the whole family, especially if you include a meal and a movie.

Have you taken time with them for casting practice in the backyard with that Christmas rod and reel? Hoping “they’ll get the hang of it” when you take them fishing may be expecting too much; and might actually diminish their ability to enjoy the outing rather than looking forward to it.

The point of all this is that there are lots of interesting things to do this month, and great opportunities to encourage youngster’s interest in the outdoors. Getting them involved and teaching them to be good stewards is our responsibility. The key is in your hands – use it!

Southern flounder are in the news again. Even though anglers have enjoyed an uptick in catching lately, TPWD says the future does not look so bright. Population sampling to discover spawning success and recruitment of fingerlings into the fishery has been declining steadily and is now at the lowest level since sampling efforts began forty years ago.

You will read several references in this issue of better-than-average flounder landings during recent months but it is important to temper this with the best available science to make sense of the situation. Flounder have a relatively short lifespan, about five to six years. While a better-than-average number of two or three-year-old females coming into angler’s hands would suggest a recovered fishery, the serious decline in recruitment is great cause for concern.

Southern flounder in Texas waters and other gulf states are considered overfished with overfishing ongoing. Coastal Fisheries Division staff are currently advising TPW commission members of the state of the fishery according to the data, and it is reasonable to expect more conservative harvest regulations will be adopted soon.

The problem facing Coastal Fisheries staff and the commissioners will be convincing coastal fishermen of the risk in continuing to harvest the brood stocks of the future when sustainability of the fishery is not being supported by the present rate of recruitment.

Get outdoors…and take a youngster!