News, Views, and Developments

Here we go barreling into May with a full slate of things to do and lots to keep an eye on. Before we get into all that I want to say our writing team have been busy on the water and I believe we have a very informative issue this month. Hope you enjoy it.

Hottest topic by far is TPWD commissioner’s  enactment of emergency spotted seatrout regulations for all Texas waters south of the JFK Causeway. The announcement came during regular commissioner’s hearings on March 25. Effective April 01, 2021 the daily bag limit was reduced from five fish to three, with a slot limit of 17- to 23-inches; no trout longer than 23 inches can be retained.

This action is intended to conserve post-freeze spawning biomass and contribute to the speediest recovery possible of Texas’ most popular saltwater gamefish. The emergency regulations will be in effect 120 days and can be extended 60 additional days, depending on the results of the agency’s annual spring population surveys. Many conservation-minded anglers and fishing guides on the middle coast – East Matagorda down to the JFK Causeway – are expressing concern and willingness for similar measures in their waters. That could actually come to pass when the middle coast population surveys are concluded and data is published to the commission. Don’t expect changes immediately; the earliest that could happen would likely be September 01, 2021.

Another hot topic is red snapper season in federal waters. I have mentioned the Great Red Snapper Count (GRSC) in previous columns. Finally, we have some solid science to substantiate our anecdotal claims over the years that the Gulf red snapper fishery is thriving way beyond the feds’ stock assessments, about 3x more to be exact. Given the release of the GRSC abundance data, anglers should be set to enjoy more fishing days in 2021…right? Not so fast.

Even with the GRSC data in hand, federal regulators appear reluctant to recognize the abundance of red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico. Call it convoluted, mystifying, whatever; there is actually a chance that Texas recreational anglers will be given a shorter season than last year. NOAA/NMFS is still claiming over-fishing, believe it or not. If you find that disconcerting, Mississippi and Alabama anglers may not even get a season this summer. Watching this whole charade makes you wonder how people actually built pyramids thousands of years ago.

Another feather in the cap of CCA Texas; the CCA Texas Executive Board approved emergency funding last week to provide $152,000 for new grow-out pond liners needed to expand TPWD hatchery efforts to rear and stock additional spotted seatrout fingerlings in Texas bays. Our seatrout fishery needs all the help it can get right now. Kudos to CCA Texas!

TSFMag May Issue Highlights & Other News