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By Capt. Chuck Uzzle
For the Record 

Louisiana closes flounder season and changes limits on speckled trout

 

Last updated 10/11/2022 at 6:01pm

I must admit I never imagined I would see our Louisiana friends to the east jump on the conservation bandwagon this hard. For years there has been a huge disparity on fishing limits between Texas and Louisiana, so much that many Texas anglers have routinely taken to launching their boats on the Louisiana side of the lake in order to keep the much more liberal limits. Once Texas moved their speckled trout limit to 5 there was a large increase in the number of Texas boats at Louisiana launches taking advantage of their 15 fish limit. That trend continued to grow when Texas began closing their flounder season on November 1st thru December 14th. The amount of Texas anglers that would converge on the Louisiana side of Sabine Lake and the Calcasieu ship channel was incredible. It appears that all is going to change.

According to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries website it appears Louisiana will now also close their flounder season as well. Per LDWF website “An annual closed season for the recreational and commercial harvest of Southern Flounder from October 15 through November 30 of each year has been finalized. This statewide closure for Southern Flounder is for all sectors and all gear types, including any flounder caught as bycatch in any other fishery.  Exemptions that previously existed for southern flounder caught as bycatch on a shrimping trip are no longer applicable.  The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission (LWFC) was granted the authority by the Legislature to modify the shrimping bycatch exemption if the flounder stock is overfished and/or undergoing overfishing. This closed season is necessary to attempt to recover the stock of Southern Flounder, which is overfished based on results from the most recent flounder stock assessment. At their March meeting, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) staff briefed the LWFC on management options necessary to recover the stock.”

The LWFC chose to move forward with an annual closed season in the fall to allow mature female flounder to escape inshore waters and move offshore to spawn. This closed season is projected to create a 50% reduction in mature female Southern Flounder harvest. The closed season is an attempt to help the stock recover to a healthy biomass target by 2028. This initiative is a huge step forward in attempt to conserve the flounder resource and one that will take many anglers by surprise.

Louisiana also announced on October 4th that they will not only reduce their trout limit to a statewide 15 fish limit but the minimum size will also increase from 12” to 13.5” as well. The previous limit of 25 fish had been in place for more than 30 years and the harvest data has shown a steady decline in the speckled trout fishery. The creel limit and size limit change is the first step in an attempt to help overall trout populations rebound from over harvest and natural weather occurrences. Here on Sabine the only change that will happen for those using the Louisiana limit is the size increase because the 15 fish rule has been in effect for several years. The LDWF commission says they will do regular assessments to determine if speckled trout populations change with the new restrictions in place. It will take another 2 or 3 months before the changes officially go into effect, and even more revisions to the limits could happen before that time.

 

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