Monday, August 21, 2023

Time for action on redfish and speckled trout

At their July and August meetings, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission passed two Notices of Intent of immense interest to saltwater anglers - one for regulation changes to red drum, the other for regulation changes to speckled trout.  

Current regulations for both species were set over 30 years ago.  Since then, a number of factors - including a large increase in number of anglers and extensive loss of habitat - have led to their declines.  As a result, both species currently have Spawning Potential Ratios (SPRs) below their conservation standards.

The redfish NOI calls for the following change:

  • Current:    5 fish, 16 - 27 inch slot, one over slot allowed
  • Proposed:  3 fish, 18 - 24 inch slot, none over slot

The trout NOI calls for the following change:

  • Current:     25 fish, 12 inch minimum
  • Proposed:  15 fish, 13 - 20 inch slot, two allowed over slot

While conservationists are delighted about these proposals, they're just that - proposals.  An NOI must go through a public comment period, followed by approval from the Legislative Oversight Committee, and then it becomes rule.

For this reason, there is still much left to do to insure these NOIs become regulation.  We strongly urge fly fishers, kayak anglers, and other champions of conservation to contact the following folks who will help with the final decision process:

LWFC NOI comments sent to:

LA Senate Natural Resource Committee Members

Hensgens, Bob
 Fesi, Michael "Big Mike"
 Allain, R. L. Bret
Connick, Patrick
 Hewitt, Sharon
Kleinpeter, Caleb
Lambert, Eddie J.
 McMath, Patrick

LA House Natural Resource Committee Members

 Coussan, Jean-Paul
 Bourriaque, Ryan
 Butler, Rhonda Gaye
 Carrier, R. Dewith
 Cormier, Mack
 Fisher, Adrian
 Hilferty, Stephanie
 Kerner, Timothy P.
Landry, Mandie
 McKnight, Scott
 Mincey, Jr., Buddy
 Orgeron, Joseph A.
 Riser, Neil
 Romero, Troy D.
Schamerhorn, Rodney
 Wheat, Jr., William "Bill"
 Magee, Tanner
 Schexnayder, Clay

Governor John Bel Edwards

In addition, there will be a special public meeting on September 21st at LDWF Headquarters in Baton Rouge regarding speckled trout regulations.  We urge anyone who can make this meeting to attend.

Monday, August 07, 2023

A Good Time to Tie Flies

If you're enjoying this summer's record heat, I've got delightful news! The forecast for the next 10 days calls for more of the same. Surface water temperature of lakes and ponds is hot, and low in dissolved oxygen. Fish are deep and lethargic.

There's a few good reports coming in. Jacks, spanish mackeral and bull reds on the coast, white trout in tidal cuts off bays, bass along the Intracoastal Canal systems from Morgan City to Houma. Its been a very early bite.

The remedy for global warming?  Tying up carbon-neutral flies! Someday it'll get cooler - maybe even below 90 degrees - and the fish will start biting. You want to be ready for when that day comes.

I'm already thinking about events coming up this Fall, Winter and Spring. As I tie up a dozen or so flies, I put the "good looking ones" aside in a fly box for use as future raffle donations. Your donation of flies - and anything else - helps to offset costs of these events, and make them free to the public.

Saturday, August 05, 2023

LWC approves new speckled trout regulations

At their monthly meeting on Thursday, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission voted on a final amendment to their speckled trout Notice of Intent (NOI) to change regulations to reduce the harvest of speckled trout - and thus bring the spawning recruitment back above the Conservation Standard .  
The NOI was first proposed in November of last year, and called for a 13.5 inch minimum size and 15 daily creel limit.  That NOI was rejected by the Legislative Natural Resources Oversight Committee.  The Commission had until the August meeting to amend that NOI or else the entire process would have to be restarted in 2024.
Prior to the meeting, we learned that a Zone Management Proposal would be presented:
- East Zone, 14"-20", 15 daily, 2 allowed over 20"
- Central Zone, 12"-19", 15 daily, 2 allowed over 19"
- West Zone, 14"-20", 15 daily, 2 allowed over 20"
The zones would be identical to those used to manage commercial shrimping.
During the public comment period, several attendees spoke in favor of this amendment, including the  Gulf Coast Council (GCC) of Fly Fishers International.  While making a case for zones, the GCC also pointed out that they supported this proposal because it reached or slightly exceeded the critical 20% reduction needed to get the SPR back above the Conservation Standard in 6 years or less.
After a couple hours of discussion, it became apparent that while the Commission liked the concept of zone management, the fact that LDWF only had one month to put the data and plan together left a few unanswered questions. So the Commission proposed a substitute motion that passed by a 4-2 vote.
New regulation (if approved by Oversight Committee):
  • 15 daily creel, 13"-20" slot size, with 2 over 20" allowed
  • statewide regulation
  • no guide catch allowed in a charter trip
According to Jason Adriance, LDWF Marine Finfish Manager, this new regulation would result in a 19.6% reduction in harvest and get the SPR back to the Standard in 6 years.

Next Steps:
  1. A public hearing on the proposed changes will be held by the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries on September 21, 2023 at 10:00 a.m. at LDWF headquarters in the Joe Herring Room at 2000 Quail Drive, Baton Rouge, LA 70898.
  2. Review by members of the Legislative Natural Resources Oversight Committee.
  3. Following the 30-day oversight period, the proposed rule could be published as a final rule as soon as December 2023.