Hooked Up: June 2023

Hooked Up: June 2023
Let’s not let what happened to the buffalo happen to our trout. Purchase caps at: Remember the Buffalo form.jotform.com

I get a little down-time in the middle of a charter when everything is going right. At this moment I have very accomplished anglers in the water. They know what to do and how to approach the sand holes. Their time on the water is paying off today as they are just steadily knocking out trout between three and six pounds. Fun to watch and forever grateful to be so blessed by the Big Man to get to enjoy moments like this, sure to become proud stories to their buddies who were not able to make it today.

April and May showed us a hint of how things use to be, and could be again. Numerous days we’ve had trout in the six- to eight-plus pound range. Other days we would catch a hundred or so ranging from one- to four-pounds, just knowing that we are walking amongst a couple huge trout that will not eat, for whatever reason. My take on that is they can be as moody as a pregnant woman. Don’t even try to figure them out. Just fish and hope God smiles on you and gives you a shot.

June fishing will remain very productive for numbers of all game species. The trout have been spawning steadily, which means they’re not as heavy as they were, but they are not getting any shorter. We are always pursuing the largest females in the bay, and it’s just as cool to trick them into biting during June as in March.

Every piece of structure in the bay will hold the potential to produce good trout. Fish have tails and move daily, so something that produced a week ago may not seven days down the road. Always, always, always find the active bait before you get out of the boat. If you don’t see it, move on till you find the right bait on the right structure. If they are not eating your favorite MirrOlure plugs, scale down to a five-inch Bass Assassin and drag it slowly in front of their face.

I have more conversations about the health of the trout fishery than you can imagine. Random phone calls, text messages, emails, at the dock, and on the boat. One out of a hundred is someone making an argument to raise the limit back up so there can be more harvest. Stupid, on so many levels.

It gives me great hope though, that the other ninety-nine are of a mindset to, “leave it at the post-freeze size and bag limit…everyone is onboard with it now,” Honestly, I wish it were even tighter, but I could certainly live with the post-freeze regs continuing into the future.

In a short time period since the freeze of February ’21, we are finally seeing a slight improvement towards normalcy in trout fishing. All the gains we have made in it are going to be for naught though, when “croaker kill” starts again next spring. Back to five trout per day between15- and 25-inches, with one longer than 25... Holy Shit! That makes 99% of spawning age trout eligible for harvest.

My opinion here, but a fishery full of dink trout in the future is like winning a plastic duck at the circus. The rush of setting the hook will be gone before the cotton candy is finished.

That might have been fine in the mid-80s when there were about 200,000 saltwater stamps being sold, but we’re now pushing toward 2,000,000. Almost 10x the number of anglers, and it’s still Ok to just keep on throwing them in the ice chest? I’m no mathematician, but the numbers do not even remotely work for me. Coastal Fisheries own trout population surveys show a steadily declining trend for many years. That, along with the huge rise in license sales should, mathematically speaking, have put us at a less than two fish bag limit years ago.

I’m merely pointing out some facts and numbers, but in my opinion, three trout a day ought to be enough for anybody. You just can’t have a bay system that produces quality and quantity while allowing that many spawners to be harvested when you have 10x number of anglers taking home that much more of the fruit in the basket.

TPWD needs to hear y’all’s voices, your concerns, and what y’all want out of your fishery. I promise you this, right now the “kill crowd” is being heard more than the sportsmen.

Remember the buffalo! -Capt David Rowsey