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New trout limits to debate; first agenda item on the LWFC list | Sports

Speckled trout.

This species is Louisiana’s most sought after inshore fish and rivals bass for the #1 ranking in the vast waters of Sportsman’s Paradise.

And, in the past two years, it’s been the hottest and most debated topic since state wildlife and fisheries biologists took an in-depth look at Louisiana’s trout populations.

Their find? Overfished.

marine biologist Jason Adrian has been the go-to man for wildlife and fisheries throughout this discussion which has now been going on for two years.

And, the state agency’s position on creel and length limits has been consistent after a series of public meetings over the ensuing months.

The daily limit of 15 trout is a bit more liberal than originally proposed, but the minimum size of 13½ inches has been a constant.

Why?

It’s simple in terms of biologists: The state agency staff report states, “Most spotted sea trout, male and female, begin spawning at 1 year of age, usually in summer. following their hatching. Age 1 females average between 8 and 11 inches. Males are generally smaller, averaging between 6 and 9 inches.

“The growing harvest of age 1 and -2 fish is something we are seeing across the state. We have not observed a major drop in recruitment (young fish), so experienced anglers are still able to catch trout. But we are seeing changes in trout population structure that, as biologists, cause us to worry about the population’s ability to sustain itself.

Thus, biologists believe that something on the order of new daily/size limits over three years will help bring overall population change more in line with a population that can sustain itself without more stringent management programs.

The current trout limit is 25 with a minimum length of 12 inches.

Now this week, specifically at Thursday’s Wildlife and Fisheries Commission meeting at 9:30 a.m. in Baton Rouge, LDWF Marine Fisheries staff are ready to advocate for a Notice of Intent to Amend daily creel and minimum size limits.

The proposal will follow their long-standing position of lowering the daily creel limit to 15 and requiring ‘guardian’ trout to be 13½ inches or longer.

This position has not changed much, although there have been other options like 12 fish per day, or possibly 10, with various length limits discussed at a series of public meetings.

There is opposition to this decision: CCA Louisiana, with more than 20,000 members, the largest recreational fishing group in the state, has offered another minimum size alternative of 12 inches – the 12 inch rule is in force for decades.

Its executive director David Cresson said the association’s position is consistent with the 15-fish limit, but contradicts the 13½-inch rule in the belief that it aims to remove more larger spawning trout from the population.

“From everything we’ve discussed, we think 15 and 12 is the most reasonable change for the majority of members across the state,” Cresson said. “And, we considered all the factors, looked at the science, and 15 and 12 is a better option.

“When you add the fact that a higher minimum size limit could put additional pressure on larger female fish, well, that’s definitely something we don’t want to see.”

Cresson said the risk of a new, larger minimum size limit will have more impact than the trout population, that the 15 and 12″ will allow (fishermen) to continue to benefit from the resources and help speed up any recovery. necessary, and will not have an exceptionally heavy impact on business and charter captains, lodges and marinas.

The 15 trout daily limit will bring a statewide daily creel limit in line with a 15 trout limit established on Lake Calcasieu more than a decade ago.

Charter boat captain Aaron Pierce is another campaign to maintain the minimum size of 12 inches.

He has spent his life on the water operating his fishing business from Golden Meadow south to Le Fourchon. His devotion to water and what lives in it prompted him to earn a master’s degree in oceanography.

“You know, honestly, 15 fish doesn’t make a difference to the current limit of 25 fish (daily). Overall it won’t make a difference because we’ve been told the average catch is two fish (per angler per trip),” Pierce said.

“We’re willing to give in for the 15 fish, to handle three guys, that’s 45 fish, and it’s a good day on the water,” he said.

“It’s the 13½ that I can’t agree with,” Pierce said. “(Biologists) tell us that the rod and reel are overfishing the trout, and then they tell us that they want to be 13½ inches, which means we’re going to keep the bigger females, we’re going to have to target bigger fish.

“This means we will have croakers and (live) pogeys to catch and keep trout, and the biggest trout are proven to be female. The inch and a half won’t make a big difference, and there’s evidence to prove it.

Whatever the commission approves, there will be a public comment period.

All indications are by January 1 there will be new rules for catching speckled trout.

And, Cresson hit the nail on the head: “This is one of the most important decisions this commission will make in years.”

Pogey too

Just two weeks after Omega Protein admitted that one of its boats cut its nets containing around 900,000 pogeys near Holly Beach, the commission will also look into this matter.

Another item on the agenda for Thursday’s meeting is to “receive and consider a notice of intent to amend the menhaden (pogey) regulations with respect to purse seine gear decommissioning.”

The LDWF has set up a live audio/video Zoom broadcast for this meeting. The webinar registration website: wlf-la.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_DMaBYmnMTceOL5o-WsNcYA

Thanks to you

Executive Director of Hunters for the Hungry Julie Grunwald reported that last weekend, Clean Out Your Freezer Day collected just over 15,500 pounds of frozen meats and fish.

“That’s over seven tons going to the needy in Louisiana,” Grunewald said. “If you still have donations to collect, send an e-mail to: [email protected] It’s not too late to contribute.