Most anglers in Texas are aware of the changes to the flounder regulations and the proposed changes to the speckled trout regulations. If for some reason the above statement catches you off-guard, here are the regulations.
Flounder: Season is closed from November 1st – December 14th
Speckled Trout Proposal: Reduce bag limit to three trout and modify the slot limit to 17-23 inches. No allowance for trout over 23 inches. The area affected would be from the Lower Laguna Madre to the East Matagorda Bay System, including the Gulf Waters in those areas. The proposal would expire in August of 2023 when the regulations would return to the previous regulations.
I am sure that every angler has an opinion on these changes. Some of us feed our families with the game we harvest but consider why the potential reasons for these regulations and think about the long-term impacts on the fishery.
My family and I have been fishing Texas waters for a good while and one thing I hear often is about “how it used to be”. You will hear older anglers talk about the days before the regulations and how plentiful the fish “used to be”. Unfortunately, that is not the case anymore. Fish are still plentiful, but if actions are not taken to properly manage the resource, the future will be negatively impacted.
Specifically, in regards to the two species of fish under scrutiny, these regulations focus on protecting spawning fish. Flounder move out of the shallower waters of the bay systems into the deeper waters of the gulf during the late fall / early winter to spawn. Protecting these migrating fish allows these flounder to have a greater chance of spawning which provides a boon to the fishery.
As for speckled trout, the larger fish are the breeding fish. Protecting the fish over 23 inches allows for more of these trout to spawn thus increasing the fish population. In fact, I would like to see the upper slot changed from 23 inches to 20 inches, making the slot from 15 inches to 20 inches.
Of course, I am just speaking about recreational fishing. Commercial fishing, including irresponsible guides, present their own set of challenges. You could even argue these groups present
greater challenges. You would have no argument from me. If these industries do not self-regulate, I hope we will see increased regulations for them as well. These proposals will only go so far in helping our Texas fish population, but I think we all will agree that we want the next generation to enjoy these resources as well.
Let us support responsible changes so that future Texans will have the opportunities, maybe even greater opportunities, to catch some epic fish!