PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Outdoors

September 27, 2012

OUTDOORS COLUMN: Flounder comeback picking up steam

PORT ARTHUR — Bill Kinney has been director of CCA’s STAR Tournament for many years.

He has seen it all when it comes to trends in fisheries.

A couple of months ago, he sent out an email to the media congratulating myself and Sea Center Texas director David Abrego for our efforts to restore flounder and in it, he noted some encouraging things about the flounder’s comeback.

“With the singular efforts you and David Abrego have dedicated to our flounder fishery, we just wanted to let you know that we at CCA Texas STAR have never seen such an onslaught of flatties entered in the tournament so soon.  Indeed, flounder entries are outpacing even gafftop, a very rare anomaly.

“Even better the weights recorded for both kids and adults are virtually double the weight we see at this time in a typical year.

“Of course this is not scientific tracking, but there is no question, anecdotally and in our record-keeping, that a healthy resurgence in the fishery is more than underway.

“Several years ago when we all hoped to reverse the long-term decline curve, I would have never believed the comeback, both in numbers and size, would happen so soon.”

Three years ago, officials with the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) enacted special restrictions on flounder during the “run” to protect them as they head out to procreate.

During November, rod and reel anglers are allowed to keep only two fish per person and all gigging and commercial harvest is banned.

So far, it seems to be working as TPWD officials show the best gill net surveys since the late 1990s on top of the anecdotal you read from CCA.

To aid this conservation action, I am in the fourth year of Flounder Revolution ® replica tournaments.

From March-November we have an online catch, photo and release tournament where anglers turn in flounder measuring 20 inches or more. By following our photo, documentation and release guidelines at www.flounderrevolution.com they have are entered in the tournament and at month’s end the angler with the longest fish gets an awesome replica of their catch produced by The Fish Mount Store.

CCA is the sponsor of the replica program and through their support and our outreach efforts hundreds of prime breeding-sized flounder are being release to produce more of their kind.

While I will never be someone to tell people to release everything they catch, it is important to put back the big, spawning-sized fish of any species. It has worked with largemouth bass and it will work with flounder as well.

Good things are happening with flounder and even better things are ahead.

I truly believe that.

(To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at cmooreoutdoors@gmail.com. You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at www.klvi.com.)

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