I think the fish numbers were strong going into the freeze, at least where I fish. I can’t really see a lot of difference over the last 15 years I have really fished a lot. I likely got more skilled at recognizing fish sign and structure over that time period, but adjusting for that, I still say the fishing was as good just prior to this freeze if not even better than it was in the first decade of the 21st Century. Obviously, some trips work out better than others, but taken as a whole, fishing has been good as any time in my personal history. I’ve read some threads on other sites that say the fishing isn’t or wasn’t nearly as good in recent years as it was a decade or two ago, and certainly not like it was in the 1980s or 1990s. But, is that just longing for the good old days or is it rooted in reality? I didn’t fish a ton in the 1980s and probably less in the 1990s so it’s hard to know about way back when. TP&W numbers on their surveys if I recall those seem to reflect the things I’ve experienced.
But, we all fish different areas and have different reference points. What’s your take?
From what I can tell from the videos and reports, the freeze was at its worse from East Matagorda Bay on south, which is a massive slice of the Texas coast. Trout got hit the hardest of the big three, setting aside the marginally adapted snook, snapper, tarpon, etc. A lot of the water I fish has deep rivers and creeks and bayous and channels for at least a good number of trout to escape the persistent water in the 30s that lots of other more shallow areas received.
So what should TP&W do? I’d be for making croaker a gamefish for starters, but that would likely send a lot of guides and some others into orbit. But, one, I like catching croaker and not being able to use them for bait would likely allow those fish to prosper. Secondly, better trout seem to find live croaker irresistible and putting an end to croaker soaking would no doubt result in less trout being caught. I could also see a temporary catch and release for trout being put into place for the hardest hit areas or even statewide. If TP&W only slaps certain bays with catch and release rules, will that send people to the areas where it is business as usual?
What do you think TP&W should do? Lower the limits? Catch and release only during the spawn? Nothing? All of it and more?