The Texas coast offers some of the most diverse, productive, and trafficked waters along the entire Gulf coast.
The Upper Coast features areas with sometimes deeper waters; bays with lots of oysters; bays that often time receive a lot of freshwater runoff from the Sabine, Trinity, Brazos and Colorado rivers; extensive industrial and urban development; and ever-increasing fishing pressure from both recreational and commercial sectors.
As you move down the Middle Coast toward Port O’Connor, Rockport and Corpus Christi, the bays begin to become generally shallower although deeper waters still come into play. You find more seagrass habitat; there is still an abundance of oysters in places; fewer industrial neighbors; and ever-increasing fishing pressure from both recreational and commercial fishermen.
Further south, through the Upper Laguna Madre, Baffin Bay, Nine-Mile Hole and Lower Laguna Madre, you see miles and miles of shallow flats; seagrass beds; only a few oyster reefs; very little freshwater runoff; practically no industrial development, and until you reach the southernmost reaches of the Lower Laguna Madre – very little urban development. But you still find heavy use by recreational and commercial fishermen.
What is the common thread through the three regions described above? Heavy participation by recreational and commercial fishermen.
Census predictions seem to indicate that the human population of the Texas coastal region will double in the next twenty years.Will the resources be able to withstand this? Will anglers be able to adapt?
A key word in answering these questions of what lies ahead is RESPECT.
As recreational anglers and conservationists, we want to continue to fish and enjoy what the Texas coast offers, every day that we can.To do this we must respect the resources, respect the efforts to conserve and protect the resources, and respect one another. It’s that simple.
2017 marks 40 years since the formation 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 of overfishing and begin restoring the bounty of our coastal waters. The cornerstone of those early efforts was respect for what remained of the fisheries and the desire to see them flourish once more for their generation, and generations to come.
It was a long and hard road traveled to first get saltwater fishing 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 banning of gill nets. Any respect that existed between the commercial and recreational sectors evaporated quickly but the respect earned by these early conservationists in the Texas capitol led to a great turning of the legislative tide. And although respect between commercial and recreational fishermen will likely always remain less than desired, we should never lose respect for the efforts and the accomplishments of a few determined conservationists that have since grown to become a 65,000-member association. Grassroots conservation efforts over the years is truly what saved the Texas coastal resources enjoyed by so many today.
Going back to that common thread, people are not leaving the Texas coast, they are coming to it full speed ahead.The sale of boats, tackle, and other fishing related equipment continue to rise like Jack’s beanstalk.The development of the immediate coast continues at an incredible pace in many areas. The number of people on the water grows every year, and yet we still have the same finite amount of fishable water and resources.
If the resources we currently enjoy are to continue to thrive, there will need to be a continued and even greater outpouring of conservation effort.
Adhering to bag limits, and maybe taking only a few for a meal on a given day is a great place to start. Leading by example is a great way to teach new and younger fishermen the benefits of conservation.
Operating our boats conservatively goes a long way as well.So many of the newer boats can run shallower than ever dreamed possible. Because it can, doesn’t mean you should.
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 grows our fishable areas will only continue to shrink. Keep that in mind as you start each fishing adventure.
Take all of this a step further by joining CCA and becoming active in your local CCA Chapter.
Respect should also be part of your daily fishing plan even before getting on the water.It begins in the morning at the filling station, at the ramp and on the dock.Start the day off right.
If the lines are long at the gas pump, move your rig as soon as you gas up. Throw your empty ice sacks in a trash can instead of draping them over a bollard where they will soon blow away.
When you arrive at the boat ramp, use the staging area to prepare for launching, not when you are backed halfway down the ramp. As you back down the ramp, turn your headlights off so you don’t blind other drivers trying to back down.
Park where you are supposed to park and in the direction that best suits the traffic pattern. If a parking lot is not striped, pay attention to what the flow of traffic in the ramp area is and do not block the drive-through, and especially in front of the ramp. If the particular ramp you want to use is full, maybe you need to go to another one close by, if there is one. It is pretty ridiculous what some users at public ramps do.Don’t be that guy.
If you launch your boat early at a public ramp, do not block dock space for long periods of time.Other people are privileged to use these ramps and docks as much as you. If waiting for a member of your party to arrive, rather than occupying dock space for twenty or thirty minutes, anchor a short distance away where you will see them and pull up only when they are ready to board. This is all common sense and you should be able to look at yourself in the mirror at the end of the day and know you did the right things.
Technology and communications change rapidly and so does the amount of information at our fingertips. 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 regards to our fellow anglers are very disappointing. Use social media to help educate your friends and family about conservation projects and coastal advocacy efforts.The more we educate one another on good stewardship and conservation measures, the better off our resources will be for us, our kids, and grandkids.CCA Texas is excited and optimistic as we move into our 2017 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. The office staff will point you in the right direction.Thank you all for your continued support and remember…RESPECT the Texas coastal resources and your fellow anglers.