PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Sports

January 4, 2014

Trout, flounder meeting sparks questions

CHESTER’S SUNDAY OUTDOORS COLUMN

ORANGE — There have been many questions asked over the last two weeks as we published the story about the public scoping meeting on trout and flounder regulations to be held Jan. 9 at the Port Arthur Public Library.

Since the meeting is just around the corner I thought it would be helpful to answer a few of those questions.

Q: Do you think the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) is trying to create a statewide trophy trout fishery?

A: The short answer is no. I do not think that is their goal as they are pretty conscientious of various users in all fisheries. They have not however made any official proposal for regulation changes although we have listed a number of ideas being scoped at the series of hearings beginning this week. These include a change to a five fish limit either coast-wide or regionally. TPWD does a good job of thinking way ahead on fisheries issues and if any changes are coming it is probably in response to the projected population growth along the Texas coast and the potential of greatly increased fishing pressure.

Q: Will TPWD propose to ban flounder gigging?

A: I would be shocked if they did. If anything we may see an extension of the fall gigging and commercial harvest closure but do not expect a full on gigging ban at this point.

Q: TPWD always enacts the proposals they put out for public comment so what is the point of going to the meeting?

A: This is a “scoping” meeting, meaning they will throw out various scenarios and take public comment on the fishery. These comments will then be taken to the TPWD Commission at their Jan. 22-23 meeting and if they so choose, a proposal will be made their and then released for public comment. They do in most cases enact their official proposals but there have been instances like with a redfish bag increase a few years ago where they decided not to due to public outcry.

Q: How can Lake Calcasieu produce so many fish (and many big ones) with a 15 fish limit, yet we are potentially looking at going from 10 to 5?

A: That’s a good question and the answer is pretty simple: habitat. In Texas we developed most of our side of Sabine Lake. Ditto for the bulk of the western and northern portions of the Galveston Bay complex. Calcasieu has rich estuarine marsh al around it with the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge on one side and the Cameron Prairie Refuge on the other. That’s far more marsh to produce far more fish.

Q: Do you think Sabine Lake has benefitted from the flounder regulation changes?

A: You bet we have as the flounder population according to TPWD is higher than it has been in our ecosystem in a long time over the last couple of years. Sabine however will not feel the full effect as much as other Texas destinations due to two factors.

Our waters are not clear enough to allow much gigging. There are a few spots but it’s not nearly as prevalent as it is in say West Galveston Bay or Lower Laguna Madre. Gigging hasn’t been an issue so our fishery has perhaps been a little stronger than others.

The big factor is many anglers in the fall launch in Louisiana and keep 10 fish. Sabine Pass is starting to look like Cameron with boat moving in and out all day long taking limits. It’s legal and I have nothing against anyone participating in legal fishing activities but it is no doubt keeping many fish from migrating out during the fall. Run.

(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 and watch him Saturdays on GETV/GETV.org on “God’s Outdoors with Chester Moore”.)

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