FAQs for Scoping Meetings on Spotted Seatrout and Southern Flounder

Related News Release

Related Presentation (PDF)

Online Public Comment

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will conduct several scoping meetings to obtain feedback on the following topics:

  1. Increasing flounder populations through possible implementation/extension of management measures such as extension of seasonal closures to gigging plus reducing bag limits during the closures.
  2. Improving the quality of spotted seatrout fishing, either regionally or coastwide, through possible implementation of a five-fish bag limit, as is currently standard in the lower Laguna Madre.

Flounder

  1. What is the status of the flounder population along the Texas coast?

    In 2009, TPWD implemented significant changes to flounder regulations to help the populations recover from a long-term decline that had been observed in fishery independent sampling efforts.  These changes reduced the recreational possession limit to five fish, and the commercial possession limit to 30.  The possession limit was reduced to two fish for both recreational and commercial fishermen for the month of November.  In addition, no gigging is allowed in November.

    Since implementation of these regulations, department gill net surveys indicate improvements in relative abundance of flounder.  Both recreational harvest and commercial harvest landings show improvement as well.

    Juvenile recruitment of flounder into bays and estuaries, as was noted in 2009, is temperature related, with cold winters resulting in higher juvenile recruitment than warm winters.

  2. Are flounder overfished?

    No.  Flounder populations are not overfished. Flounder are one of the top three most sought after species by anglers in Texas inshore waters, but the landings are currently at a sustainable level.  A reduction in landings would increase the number of older and larger fish in the population.

  3. Do commercial fishermen catch most of the flounder?

    Daytime recreational landings exceed commercial landings.  Nighttime recreational gigging adds to the recreational take.  Based on a previous TPWD study, recreational gig fishing effort represented approximately one third of the hook-and-line fishing effort.

  4. Will closing bays to gigging during other months help?

    Reducing flounder harvest prior to and during the fall migration will increase escapement of adults to the Gulf and can increase the potential spawning population; and therefore increase recruitment.

  5. Is changing bag limit/season expected to be permanent?

    Not necessarily.  The option of applying a sunset date with the regulation could be considered by TPWD.  Regulation changes are applied to address specific issues within a fishery, and to realize the full benefit of the change it generally takes one generation of the managed species.  TPWD continuously monitors populations and landings of marine species, and will make appropriate recommendations for regulation changes as the population and landings of any given species change over time.  Typically, regulations result in positive impacts on the overall population of a species and it is sometimes harder to develop support for liberalizing regulations even if the populations at some point can support the increases in landings.  In 2001 the daily bag limit for Spanish mackerel was increased from 7 to 15; however, during the mid to late 1990’s scoping of options to liberalize red drum bag limits were not favorably received, consequently no regulations were considered for implementation.

  6. What are the size and bag limits in other Gulf States?
    1. Louisiana—
    2. Mississippi—
    3. Alabama—
    4. Florida—
  7. How can I contact TPWD with my opinion on these proposals?

    There are several ways that constituents and interested parties may provide input.  Visit our website at www.tpwd.texas.gov for an online comments section or e-mail your comments to SWFishComments@tpwd.texas.gov.  Also, the public is invited to attend and provide comments at any of the following scoping meetings.

    TPWD Coastal Fisheries Scoping Meetings: (All meetings will begin at 6 p.m.)

    • Jan. 7, 2014, Port Lavaca: Bauer Exhibit Hall, 186 County Road 101
    • Jan. 8, 2014, Rockport: Aransas County Court Room, 301 N. Live Oak
    • Jan. 8, 2014, Corpus Christi: Del Mar College Center for Economic Development, Room 106, 3209 S. Staples
    • Jan. 8, 2014, San Antonio: Lion’s Field Adult and Senior Citizens Center, 2809 Broadway
    • Jan. 9, 2014, Port Isabel: Port Isabel Community Center, 213 Yturria
    • Jan. 9, 2014, Port Arthur: Gallery Room of the Port Arthur Public Library, 4615 9th Ave.
    • Jan. 9, 2014, Dickinson: TPWD Dickinson Marine Lab, 1502 Pine Dr. (FM 517)

Spotted Seatrout

  1. What bay systems are considered as Upper Coast, Middle Coast and Lower Coast?

    Upper includes Sabine Lake, Galveston Bay, and Cedar Lakes; Middle includes East Matagorda Bay, West Matagorda Bay, San Antonio Bay and Aransas Bay; Lower includes Corpus Christi Bay and the upper Laguna Madre.  For the purpose of this discussion, lower Laguna Madre (LLM) is treated separately because of the special spotted seatrout regulations implemented in 2007.

  2. What is the status of spotted seatrout populations in these regions?

    In 2002, statewide spotted trout harvest regulations were changed to a 10-fish daily bag and 15-inch minimum size, with 1 fish over 25-inches allowed.  Since implementation of these regulations, fishery independent sampling surveys from each of these areas indicate stable or slight increase in relative abundance of spotted seatrout.  Recreational harvest from these areas has also showed increased landings with the exception of a drop in trout landings during the 2012-2013 season in the LLM.

    Recruitment of spotted seatrout from each of these areas has remained relatively stable.  The declines in relative abundance observed on the middle coast in 2009 were corrected with the high recruitment levels observed in 2010 and 2011.  Recruitment levels in 2012 are consistent with levels from previous years, with the exceptions noted above for 2010 and 2011.

    In 2007, special rules were adopted for the lower Laguna Madre (LLM) of which size limits were the same as the rest of the coast, but the bag limit was reduced to 5 fish.  Since implementation of these regulations in the LLM, gill net surveys show that relative abundance has remained relatively stable though considerable year-to-year fluctuations occur.  For example, the fall 2013 gill net catch rates are one of the lowest observed following one of the highest catch rates recorded from the spring 2013 sampling.

  3. Are spotted seatrout overfished?

    No.  TPWD gill net, bag seine and harvest data indicate they are not overfished.  Fishing pressure and landings are different for each bay, with some bays higher than others.  Spotted seatrout are the most sought after species by anglers in Texas inshore waters, but the landings are currently at a sustainable level.  A reduction in landings would increase the number of older and larger fish in the population.

  4. When a regulation change is made, is it permanent?  If not, how long will it last?

    Not necessarily.  The option of applying a sunset date with the regulation could be considered by TPWD.  Regulation changes are applied to address specific issues within a fishery, and to realize the full benefit of the change it generally takes one generation of the managed species to be realized.  TPWD continuously monitors populations and landings of marine species, and will make appropriate recommendations for regulation changes as the population and landings of any given species change over time.  Typically, regulations result in positive impacts on the overall population of a species and it is sometimes harder to develop support for liberalizing regulations even if the populations at some point can support the increases in landings.  In 2001 the daily bag limit for Spanish mackerel was increased from 7 to 15; however, during the mid to late 1990’s scoping of options to liberalize red drum bag limits were not favorably received, consequently no regulations were considered for implementation.

  5. What are the size and bag limits in other Gulf States?
    1. Louisiana—12” minimum total length; 25 daily bag limit per person; two days’ bag limit allowed in possession off the water, not while fishing in a boat.  15 daily per person with no more than 2 over 25” in specific areas. http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/publication/31743-2013-fishing-regulations/ldwf_fishing_for_web.pdf
    2. Mississippi—13” minimum total length; 15 daily bag limit per person.  http://www.dmr.state.ms.us/joomla16/images/publications/reg-book.pdf
    3. Alabama—14” minimum total length; 10 daily bag per person.  http://www.outdooralabama.com/images/file/creel%20limits%20-Aug%2013%20B&W.pdf
    4. Florida—not less than 15” nor more than 20” (statewide) except one fish over 20” per person; daily bag of 4 per harvester per day in South region; daily bag of 5 per harvester per day in NE and NW regions. http://www.eregulations.com/florida/fishing/saltwater/saltwater-fishing-regulations.
  6. How can I contact TPWD with my opinion on these proposals?

    There are several ways that constituents and interested parties may provide input.  Visit our website at www.tpwd.texas.gov for an online comments section or e-mail your comments to SWFishComments@tpwd.texas.gov.  Also, the public is invited to attend and provide comments at any of the following scoping meetings.

    TPWD Coastal Fisheries Scoping Meetings: (All meetings will begin at 6 p.m.)

    • Jan. 7, 2014, Port Lavaca: Bauer Community Center, 186 County Road 101
    • Jan. 8, 2014, Rockport: Aransas County Court Room, 301 N. Live Oak
    • Jan. 8, 2014, Corpus Christi: Del Mar College Center for Economic Development, 3209 S. Staples Street, Room 106
    • Jan. 8, 2014, San Antonio: Lion’s Field Adult & Senior Citizens Center, 2809 Broadway
    • Jan. 9, 2014, Port Isabel: Port Isabel Community Center, 213 Yturria
    • Jan. 9, 2014, Port Arthur: Gallery Room of the Port Arthur Public Library, 4615 9th Avenue
    • Jan. 9, 2014, Dickinson: TPWD Dickinson Marine Lab, 1502 Pine Drive (FM 517)

Back to Top
Back to Top