Thank you so very much for your extended report on TWIA’s recent meeting with the public. As a former Winter Texan, and with family in Fulton, it was good to see aired all the hardships caused by TWIA’s non-follow-up to Hurricane Harvey. Again, your coverage was much appreciated.
And, congratulations to you, Mr. Probst, for your recent award.
(Editor’s note: The following letter was sent to TP&WD Executive Director Carter Smith and shared with this newspaper as a letter to the editor.)
Dear Mr. Smith:
We are Winter Texans and have been coming to Rockport from Yakima, WA for the past 26 years. Yes, we contribute to the State and local economy, we have purchased two new bay boats and two new vehicles in Texas and this does not count the many thousands of dollars on rent and so on. I purchased my first bay boat in 1998 and have fished Aransas and San Antonio bays since 1998, from October until April. We predominately wade-fish for Red Drum. They have been awesome bays to fish, but that is rapidly becoming “was” rather than “are” as the Red Drum population is a microcosm of 10 to 20 years ago.
It has become much more difficult to find concentrations of legal size fish and for the past several years we are catching way fewer numbers of small fish. During this time span with the vibrant Texas economy many wanting a boat now must own two as the fishing pressure has likely doubled during the time we have been coming. There are basically the same number of launch and parking facilities that existed 20 years ago and the fishing pressure remains concentrated in the same areas.
Several of the guides I have become acquainted with have said their business is down significantly, not because of Harvey, but because the prior trips were so sparse for fish.
Having said all that the representatives from the local TPWD still contend the Red Drum population is as good as ever. They are obviously either new fishermen that did not experience the better times or they do not fish for Red Drum. There are too many ardent fishermen and ladies who agree with the decline for anyone to believe otherwise. All one has to do is review the TPWD stocking report to fully grasp the answer to the present situation.
As 2018 was not on this report the TPWD website indicates there were zero Red Drum stocked in Texas in 2018.
It does not take a brain surgeon to interpret these numbers and to realize if it took that many stocked fish when fishing pressure was lower what must have happened to today’s Red Drum population and there is no denying it.
Please keep in mind one of Rockport’s (nicknames) is “A sleeping little drinking town with a fishing problem.”
Rockport is known both State and Country wide for it’s high quality Speckled Sea Trout, Red Drum, Black Drum (also significantly on the decline) and Flounder fishing. It would be a shame if it lost that reputation. From a common sense perspective it seems there are two alternatives:
• Reduce the catch limit from three to two, one, or zero, which would be a major blow to the sports fishing industry on this part of the Texas Coast.
• In order to maintain a viable Red Drum population to support a three fish limit it is obviously necessary to reinstate a stocking program of 1.5 to 3.5 million fingerlings per year as evidenced by the TPWD stocking report.
Only TPWD and the Texas political leaders can right the ship and it will be interesting to see if they have a desire to do so.