Respect the Resource and Our Fellow Fishermen

John Blaha | Assistant Director and Habitat Director
Respect the Resource and Our Fellow Fishermen
Educating the present and next generation of anglers is important to the health of Texas coastal resources for generations to come. An instilled attitude of conservation and respect to new participants in the angling community and to those at a young age will carry forward to the future.

The Texas coast offers some of the most diverse, productive, and heavily-used waters along the entire Gulf coast. The Upper Coast features areas with sometimes deeper waters; bays with lots of oysters; bays that often receive a lot of freshwater inflows from the Sabine, Trinity, Brazos and Colorado rivers; industrial and urban development; and heavy use by the area’s recreational and commercial fishing communities.

As you move down the coast toward Port O’Connor, Rockport, and Corpus Christi, the bays begin to become shallower, although deeper waters still come into play. You find more seagrass habitat; you still have an abundance of oysters in some areas; fewer industrial neighbors, and still heavy use by the recreational and commercial fishing interests.

Further down the coast, through the Upper Laguna Madre, Baffin Bay, Nine-Mile Hole, and Lower Laguna Madre, you see miles and miles of shallow water flats; seagrass beds; few oyster reefs; very little freshwater inflow; practically no industrial neighbors, and only until you reach the far end of the Lower Laguna there is not much urban development. But you still see heavy use by recreational and commercial fishermen.  

What is the common theme in all the above? Heavy use from the recreational and commercial fishing communities. We cannot ignore the continual increase in pressure on the fishery resources.

The Texas population is growing at a tremendous rate, gaining nearly 10 million residents in the last 23 years, putting us just beyond 30 million residents. This growth is having an observed impact on registered participation in the fishery. Over the last 10 years, saltwater fishing license sales have increased around 200,000 and all-water guide license sales have increased by over 60% (now at 1,700 saltwater guides). Can the resource and our fellow anglers handle this continuing population explosion along the Texas coast?

A key word in this growing trend is simply RESPECT. As recreational anglers and conservationists, we want to continue to enjoy what the Texas coast has to offer every day we can. Respect the resource, respect the efforts to conserve and protect the resource, and above all – respect one another.

2024 marks 47 years for the existence of Coastal Conservation Association Texas. We all know the story of how CCA Texas started and the desire of a handful of recreational fishermen to turn the tide and make the coastal resources of Texas bountiful and healthy once again. A big part of that effort was simply respect, respect for the resources and the desire to see those resources flourish for their generation and generations to come. It was a long and hard road to first get licenses and limits established for redfish, in both recreational and commercial fisheries in 1979, and eventually game fish status for redfish and speckled trout in 1981.

Along with the establishment of game fish status for redfish and speckled trout came the ban of gill nets in Texas coastal waters. There was a great lack of respect between the commercial and recreational fishermen, but the respect earned by these early conservationists in the Texas state capitol halls and their efforts led to a turning of the tide turning in the form of legislative actions in these early and formative years of the organization. Although that respect may still be lost between some of the parties of those early years, one cannot lose respect for the efforts and accomplishments of a few determined individuals that has now grown to surpass 74,000 members. These efforts truly saved the Texas coastal resources enjoyed by so many today.

Going back to the common theme in the opening paragraph, people are not leaving the Texas coast, they are coming to it full speed ahead. The sale of new boats, tackle, and other fishing equipment continues to grow. The development on the immediate coast continues to grow at incredible paces in some areas. The number of people on the water grows every year, and yet we still have the same amount of fishable water and resources. If the resources are going to survive, it is going to require even greater respect for the resource and continued conservation actions.

Adhering to limits, maybe only taking what you need for a meal on a given day, and teaching new and young fishermen the benefits of conservation are all part of the respect to maintain the fishery. Operating our boats in prudent manners goes a long way as well. Because it is capable of navigating in super-shallow water doesn’t mean you should. So many of the newer boats can run shallower than we would have dreamed possible a few decades ago. Respect the habitat and fishing areas you are running in, and do unto others as you would have them do unto you. As our population continues to grow, our fishable waters will only continue to shrink, so keep that in mind as you start each fishing adventure. Take this a step further and get active with a local CCA chapter and become part of the effort to ensure our resources for the future. It all goes back to and is founded in RESPECT.

Respect begins before you even get on the water. It begins at the convenience store where you fuel your boat, at the launch ramp, and at the dock. Start the day off right. If the lines are long at the fuel pumps, move your rig as soon as you gas up. Throw your ice bags in a trash can, not draped over a bollard where they will blow away.

When you arrive at the dock, stage in the proper area to get your boat ready for launching, not after you’ve backed halfway down the ramp. As you back down the ramp, turn your headlights off so you don’t blind the guy launching in the next lane.

Park your rig in a designated area in the proper direction to avoid blocking others. If a parking lot is not striped, pay attention to the flow of traffic in the ramp area and do not block the drive-through lane or the launch ramp.

If the parking lot is full, consider using another one close by, if there is one. It is ridiculous what some users at public ramps do on busy weekends. Don’t be that guy.

When you launch early at a public ramp, do not block dock space for long periods of time. Motor a short distance away from the dock and anchor there to await the arrival of the rest of your party, or customers if you are a fishing guide. When your friends or customers show up, pull in and pick them up as quickly as possible. These are all respectful actions, and you should be able to look at yourself in the mirror at the end of the day and know you did the right thing without having to justify any action to yourself or others.

Technology and communications change continually and so does the amount of knowledge at our hands. Social media is a big part of this growth and at the same time seems to carry a splintering effect amongst our fellow anglers at times. Everyone has a different level of skill and knowledge. Everyone has a different style and tactics. If it works for them and they are excited to share, applaud them and constructively offer other ideas and ways, but don’t berate and tear them down. Some of the exchanges seen on social media recently in regard to our fellow recreational anglers is simply disappointing. Use social media to help educate your friends and family about conservation projects and coastal resource advocacy efforts. The more we educate one another on good stewardship and conservation measures, the better off our resources will be for us and our kids. Be responsible in these areas, and again, it’s all about Respect!

CCA Texas is excited and optimistic as we move into our 2024 fundraising season. Look for events in your local area, and if you are interested in becoming an active volunteer, please reach out to CCA Texas at (713) 626-4222. Our office staff will point you in the right direction. Thank you all for your continued support and remember; it’s all about RESPECT for coastal resources and fellow anglers.