Thursday night’s scoping meeting sponsored by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department attracted more than 150 participants to its Dickinson lab.

The atmosphere was tense, as most of the audience came to protest any changes in the current size and bag limits for speckled trout and flounder.

Early in the meeting, an individual in the audience stood up and asked for a show of hands on how many opposed any changes and a large majority of the hands went up.

A number of participants used the meeting to vent frustrations on issues not covered by the meeting.

Once the meeting calmed, some interesting views and suggestions were presented.

One of the suggestions that got my attention was the proposed lowering of the minimum size on speckled trout.

While I have to lean on the biologists to say whether this would have an overall harmful effect, in practice I can see where lowering the minimum size to 14 inches would save a lot of fish.

The angler who relayed his experiences of catching and releasing trout between 14 and 15 inches had a lot of support from the audience.

Personally, I could relate to his complaint that a lot of trout are wasted that otherwise could be retained and counted toward the limit, whether it be five or 10 fish, and result in an overall reduction in the number of trout eliminated from the stocks.

One of the well-known flounder fishermen stood up and recommended designating flounder as game fish. The result of that would be to eliminate them from commercial activity.

Several people had concerns over having lower bag and size limits for the lower and middle coasts and how those concerns would influence those anglers to fish the Upper Texas Coast for the increased bag limit.

One fishing guide stood up and said a reduction of the bag limit on trout to five per day would, in effect, kill his business and adversely affect the commerce in coastal communities.

Lots of other comments were made, and I have to compliment the staff of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for their patience with the large group.

A form for submitting written comments was distributed and anyone desiring to use one can send an email request to the Reel Report and I will return one to you.

Capt. Joe Kent is a columnist for The Daily News. To get your catch in the Reel Report, call 409-683-5273 or email reel.report@galvnews.com.

(2) comments

Chris Tucker

I also attended the TP&W meeting and would like to compliment the TP&W staff for their patience and professionalism in ensuring every person who wanted to voice an opinion or suggestion got their chance.

A couple of facts I retained from the meeting:

There are over 1.2 million saltwater fishing stamps sold each year in Texas.

Our population growth needs to be factored into the equation.

Fishermen of today are more efficient than in years past due to better equipment, more realistic fishing lures and internet sites which spread the word as what and where the fishing are biting, schooling, etc. which means more fish can be caught by less people.

Any changes made would require a certain number of years (depending on the species) to determine whether the changes resulted in a negative, positive or neutral impact.

TP&W made the point time and time again that any changes which may occur could have a "Sunset" provision.

The most interesting fact was 30% of the flounder harvest is taken by the commerical flounder fishermen which is only 70 licenses for the entire state!!!!!!

Everyone needs to looks to the past in order to look to the future.

It is not the 70's we knew in our youth and it our responsibility to ensure we leave our fishing habitat and population in better shape then we found it.

Texas is the only coastal state which has open meetings for its citizens to provide input so I encourage everyone to submit their comments and suggestions to TP&W because if you don't participate then quite honestly we don't want to hear your griping!

Take a kid fishing as they are our future!

shelley bishop

One of the well-known flounder fishermen stood up and recommended designating flounder as game fish. The result of that would be to eliminate them from commercial activity.

That would also eliminate gigging since game fish can only be caught by hook and line.

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