Monday, July 31, 2023

LWFC to take up speckled trout (again) this Thursday

Speckled trout are back on the agenda for the August meeting of the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission (LWFC) meeting. The meeting will be held this Thursday, August 3rd, 9:00am, at the LA Department of Wildlife and Fisheries headquarters at 2000 Quail Drive in Baton Rouge.  The public is welcome to attend and provide input. A live video of the meeting is also available via Zoom.  See the registration link below.

To recap, here's where we stand...

Spotted seatrout spawning recruitment is below the conservation standard and has been for several years. There are a variety of reasons why, from decline in habitat to decline in forage to a doubling in the number of saltwater anglers since current regulations were set 35 years ago. The only immediate solution is a reduction from the current regulation of 12-inch minimum size, 25 fish per day (Calcasieu/Sabine has a 15 daily limit).

In November 2022, the LWFC passed a proposal or "Notice of Intent" for a 13.5 inch, 15 daily creel. After a 90 day comment period, the NOI was rejected by the Legislative Natural Resources Oversight Committee.  This original NOI must be amended by the August meeting or the entire process has to be restarted in 2024.

We've been kicking the can down the road since 2019, when speckled trout recruitment failure was first brought up in the annual stock assessment report. Everyone realizes that if we don't get changes done soon, we're looking at hard times to come.

At their July meeting, the Commission was given an amended proposal for a 12-inch minimum, 15 creel, with only 2 over 19 inches allowed.  No one seems to have a problem with a 15 fish creel.  It's the minimum size that everyone has issues with.  At 12 inches, there's almost no room for error while at 13 or 14 inches we'd be safely above the Conservation Standard.  In addition, guides and many anglers on the eastern and western areas of the state would like to see a minimum size larger than 12 inches.

After hearing from over two dozen speakers, the Commission then decided to table the proposed amendment while LDWF looks into the feasibility of zone management for speckled trout.

The zones that would be proposed are as follows:
- Eastern Zone. Mississippi/Louisiana border to Main Pass of the Mississippi River, and including Lake Pontchartrain
- Central Zone. Main Pass of the Mississippi River to Mermantau River.
- Western Zone. Mermantau River to Sabine Pass.

As mentioned, we already have a defacto zone management in Louisiana, in that a Western Zone already exists, where the daily limit for trout is 15 fish compared to 25 elsewhere.

The Gulf Coast Council of Fly Fishers International strongly supports zone management. The GCC feels that given the very distinct differences in water quality and habitat diversity in each of the three watersheds, that each should be managed to their maximum productivity.

We strongly encourage everyone to submit comments to the Commission members in support of Zone Management. The commissioners are listed on this page (scroll to middle of page).

Or attend the meeting Thursday morning in Baton Rouge. If you can't make the meeting, you can watch via Zoom webinar. Register in advance at: