I am an optimist at heart. When bad things happen I look for remedies, possible positives and silver linings. I think there is a lesson to be learned in hard times. Most of the time when trouble comes my way I quietly wait, looking and listening and surveying possible answers.
The Freeze of 2021 is one of those times. We all went through a lot. Survival was the main goal of many.
While the health of a fishery seems trivial during days without electricity and water, for those of us who have a life-stake in our coastal estuaries, the freeze and how it affects our fish and ultimately our livelihood was always in my prayers. I’m not a doom and gloom sort of dude – just not me. However, the freeze did take a toll on our fish.
Did it wipe us out? Absolutely not. I caught trout and redfish less than a week after the freeze. Praise the Lord there remains plenty of life left in our waters.
Just how many fish are left is a question that cannot be answered today. It’s going to take the coming months of careful observations and biological data to get a handle on the situation.
Some will say our fishery was in good shape before the freeze; some will say the increased pressure of more anglers on the water was taking its toll. Some say better tackle, shallower boats, social media, use of live finfish, tournaments and better GPS technology has contributed to a higher proficiency in catching, thereby taxing the estuaries. Whatever you believe to be true, I sit in amazement at the number of trout I see taken out of East Matagorda Bay, mostly in the summer and fall, and wonder how we take so much and East Matagorda just keeps giving.
Have catches declined in the past decade? I believe so. Data proves it and thankfully our daily bag limit of trout was reduced from 10 to 5.
Is East Matagorda still a jewel of the Texas coast? I still believe so. How many bays in Texas give you a legitimate shot at eight-plus pound trout on every cast?
The propensity of those opportunities will be tested in the coming days. We really do not know how good or how bad the rest of 2021 fishing will be. Since my Christianity pulls me to the right on most issues, I will err on the side of good fishing judgment and conservation and promote wholeheartedly catch and release of trout until science proves otherwise.
That’s not to say I will judge those who keep a few. Like I said before, we really won’t know the state of our fishery for months. However, I can control what I can control – and that’s me.
Editor Everett Johnson was proactive and preached “Just Keep Five” long before TPWD decided to reduce limits. You ever noticed you never see “stringer shots” in this publication? That’s by design – he won’t allow it. He has long been a leader in the conservation movement. Attitudes have to change, and he has used this publication to promote that ideology.
If there is a silver lining to the Freeze of 2021, I pray that attitudes of greater conservation awareness will sweep across the Texas salt for the betterment of our fishery.
When our fishery rebounds from sound conservative practices, my hope is that the take, take, take attitude will morph to a more give, give, give.
We know it works – bass anglers prove it every day.
Note: If your aim is to take fish home after a day on the water, we are offering a way to do just that if you are willing to play catch and release while fishing. In cooperation with Buddy Treybig of Buddy’s Seafood in Matagorda, we have vouchers for fish, shrimp, oysters, crabs – any bounty from the sea you desire – if you willingly release fish back to our bays and beaches during one of our guided charters. It’s a win for the angler and a win for our waters.We will be at the Houston Fishing Show April 14-18 at the GRB in Houston. Come by and chat. Follow our catches and releases with a smile on Instagram @matagordasunriselodge.
How did the Freeze of February 2021 affect Matagorda fishing?