TPWD is considering reinstating restrictions on Spotted Seatrout
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The 2021 freeze is still a topic of discussion in the Coastal Bend.
Freezing temperatures for a week in February hurt fish populations along the coastal coast. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department said more than three million seatrout were killed. The restrictions are in place to help residents recover.
“I think the restrictions were good. It’s something we needed to allow the fishery to be sustainable,” said Aaron Salazar, a professional fisherman.
Anglers can keep only three fish instead of five, and they must be between 17 and 23 inches long.
These restrictions were lifted in August 2023. Hunters noted that the population increased after that.
“I’ve seen them a lot in the apartments. They’re starting to come into the apartments and lay eggs,” Salazar said.
“Last season we just got out of was probably one of the best trout fisheries we’ve ever done. To say we’re lacking beyond the fishery is kind of blasphemous,” said Jesse Torres, a fishing guide.
Now there is a movement to put similar restrictions back on Spotted Seatrout. Again, the bag limit will only allow three instead of five, and they must be between 15 and 20 inches in size. It is permitted to keep a “trophy fish” longer than 25 inches.
Torres opposed this idea and believed it would hurt the average fisherman. He said it would only benefit a few people.
“They’re trying to change the fishery to better themselves and better their business, better their tournaments and their fishery rather than the entire fishery. They don’t care about anyone else, they care about themselves,” he said.
Salazar said he wouldn’t mind changing the rule. He is a fisherman who likes the idea of fishing for sport rather than keeping fish.
“Try to stay away from eating more than we need. Again, monitoring what we are doing and engaging a green mindset,” Salazar said.
Both fishermen believe there are bigger issues at stake.
No matter what rule is in place, you have to enforce it or it means nothing, Salazar said.
“I think the biggest thing we can do to maintain that is enforce the laws we have now. We’re not enforcing the laws, and we don’t even have enough parks and wildlife to enforce them,” Salazar said.
Torres believes that if they implement the restrictions, what will tell them to stop? If the Coastal Bend sees another freeze this winter, will the bag count drop to two or one?
He also sees how this will affect other species and proceed in the same way as it did during the original restrictions.
“What’s everyone going to do once they get their three fish back? Go back to red (drum) fishing right? So the fishery is still really trying to fix itself. So you’re going to hurt it again, and then what?” Torres said.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will hold input sessions to get a real idea of how hunters feel about these potential restrictions. The first in-person session at Texas A&M University Corpus Christi is on Tuesday, January 9 in the Natural Resources Building.
Both Salazar and Torres said they would attend to share their opinions.
If you are unable to make this meeting or any of the other sessions, you can share your ideas with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department here.
You can also share your ideas by phone or email with the Coastal Fisheries Division at 512-389-8575 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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