At their upcoming monthly meeting on Thursday, October 6th, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission will consider a Notice of Intent (NOI) to modify limits on speckled trout. Currently the daily bag limit is 25 fish with a 12 inch minimum size, except for the Calcasieu/Sabine estuaries where the daily limit is 15. A NOI is a proposal that must go through a period of public comment for 90 days, after which it can be voted on by the Commission into regulation.
The recruitment of spawning spotted seatrout in Louisiana has been below the conservation standard for nearly 8 years. Many of us have witnessed first-hand the decline in speckled trout fishing over the past decade. There are several factors for this, but none of the solutions can be easily addressed.
At this time, the only viable solution is to increase the number of juvenile trout entering the fishery. LDWF biologists have proposed several scenarios which encompass either (a) increasing the size limit, (b) lowering the daily creel limit, (c) some combination of both.
CCA Louisiana is pushing for a 12-inch, 15 daily bag limit. Their
press release stated, “The CCA Louisiana’s Science Committee and many
others have concerns about the impact on female trout if a shift to a
larger minimum size adjustment occurs. Moving to a 13-inch or 13.5-inch
minimum size seems drastic and unnecessary. Such a change could damage
the female population, and have tremendous negative impacts…”.
However, the Fly Fishers International (FFI) Gulf Coast Council (GCC) continues to support a 14-inch minimum size limit, as they did back in 2020.
According to their press release, "Scientists across the Gulf Coast are recognizing that without protection of the primary seatrout spawning population, overfishing will continue to be a problem as fishing participation rises and anglers become more efficient. Having a 14-inch minimum size not only brings us above the conservation standard in short time, but also gives us a long-range safety net.".
FFI-GCC also points out that there is very small difference in female-male populations above 14 inches, that the discrepancy doesn't become large until a minimum size of 20 inches is imposed, and that of the other 10 other states that manage speckled trout, none have a minimum size limit less than 14 inches.
A group of Grand Isle charter captains support a 12-inch limit, but have offered a compromise: Zone Management. This would allow a 12-inch/15-fish limit in the Barataria-Terrebonne estuaries (Southeast Zone), while the Ponchartrain (East), Vermillion (Southwest) and Calcasieu/Sabine (West) could have a larger size limit.
Whichever you support, changes do need to be made. The status quo is unsustainable for good fishing to continue. Please send your comments to the Commission by email: email@example.com