Louisiana Wildlife & Fisheries to Change Speckled Trout Limits
The "good old days" of catching a boatload of speckled trout for Louisiana anglers may be coming to an end, and for a sad reason.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Commission has issued a Notice of Intent (NOI), indicating it is in the process of changing the size and creel limits of speckled trout (spotted seatrout) in Louisiana waters.
The NOI comes after studies show that speckled trout in Louisiana waters are dwindling, probably due to overfishing.
The new regulations, which still have to go through a public comment period, an amendment process, and a review by the Legislative Oversight Committee before becoming law, could take effect in as little as 90 days or up to 1 year.
In addition to a new creel limit, a new size limit is being proposed, and the new limits will be enforced across the state, replacing the current split limits.
If you have never been fishing for speckled trout, it is very interesting to watch experienced anglers "chase" the birds.
Yes, I said "birds".
You see, the specks go after bait fish, and so do the birds.
The specks chase the bait fish toward the surface, allowing the birds to see the bait fish from the air. The birds start diving into the water to eat the bait fish, and the fishermen head to where the birds are. Usually, this results in a limit of specks in a relatively short amount of time, if nothing scares off the specks.
I think, anyway, because I never once caught my limit of specks, so what do I know?
I am usually out fishing for redfish or flounder or drum when we happen upon a few specks. Surprise! Always a welcomed addition to the ice chest!
As it stands, there are 2 areas in Cameron and Calcasieu Parishes that have a different size/creel limit on speckled trout than the rest of the state.
In most of Louisiana, the current size limit for speckled trout is 12 inches minimum total length, and the creel limit is 25 speckled trout per person per day.
If (probably "when") the new creel limits for speckled trout take effect in Louisiana, the minimum total length for speckled trout will be 13.5 inches, with a total daily limit of 15 per person. This will be in effect state-wide, and the areas in Cameron and Calcasieu Parishes will fall under these rules as well.
Some anglers, though, are not happy with the proposed changes.
In the comments section on the Saving Seafood Facebook page, some people believe that a creel limit of 25 speckled trout is way too many, and others think that it's not the recreational fishing that is causing the overfishing of the species.
Some are of the mind that it's the loss of our coastal marshes that is contributing to the decline in the number of game fish in our area.
Others believe that it could be the huge boats, with even larger nets, that are fishing too close to the shores of Louisiana, which is prime habitat for several of the game fish species.
Today, I learned that Louisiana's regulations for larger fishing vessels (namely, the "pogie boats" that are trawling for menhaden) are some of the most relaxed of all the Gulf states.
It appears, according to Mr. Robert Miller, that Louisiana is the last state along the Gulf of Mexico to allow the large vessels to fish its coastal waters.
Mr. Russell Caffery and I have a similar line of thought on the fishing of speckled trout: does one person really need to keep 25 every trip?
While the argument ensues on Facebook, I want to remind you that the cause of the decline in the number of Speckled Trout might never be contributed 100% to any one factor, so could the answer be multi-faceted?
Let's work on not only preserving but also replenishing our coastal marshes. Let's ask recreational anglers to limit their daily catch. Let's ask the commercial fishing industry to give the coastal area a break for a few years to see if that helps replenish the species.
If we all work together, we can probably come up with a solution. We may all have to sacrifice a little now, but if it secures a better future for fish and game in our state, I'm willing to do my part.
Interested persons may submit comments relative to the proposed rule to Jason Adriance, Fisheries Division, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, P.O. Box 98000, Baton Rouge, LA 70898-9000 or via email to email@example.com before December 30, 2022. The full notice of intent can be found here.
16 Photos from Lake Martin, Louisiana