TPWD reduces trout limits along the middle Texas coast

As of Sunday, March 30, the water temperature on Sabine Lake was 67 degrees. That’s still a little cool for this time of year, but it didn’t slow the numbers of trout, reds and flounder being caught along the Louisiana shoreline in 2 to 4 feet of water. It looks like we’re in for a warming trend this week. If so that could be the rise in water temperatures that’ll turn on the topwater bite for anglers looking for double-digit trout.

I’ve fished on Sabine four or five times during the past couple of weeks and can say for sure that the topwater bite is definitely not happening. Just about everything is on soft plastics in a variety of colors. Lately, the best tactic has been to work garlic scented paddle-tail or rat-tail jigs parallel to the bank in 3 feet of water. Over the past couple of weeks, more flounder have been showing up in Sabine Pass and along the upper-lake shoreline.

Guide Buddy Oaks reports that fishing on Lake Calcasieu is still in the on again, off again mode. However, waders are catching some solid trout on Corkys and Hackberry Hustlers. The water clarity is good on the south end of the lake with a surface water temperature around 68 degrees.

Speckled trout limits reduced to five on middle Texas coast

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission has voted to expand the five-trout per day law from the middle coast and on down to Port Mansfield.

“As part of the 2014-15 Statewide Recreational and Commercial Fishing Proclamation, the Commission adopted rules to extend a five-fish bag limit currently in effect in the Lower Laguna Madre up the coast through the Highway 457 bridge near Sargent,” says TPWD’s Steve Lightfoot.

The commission extended the two flounder per day bag limit restrictions currently in effect for the month of November into the first two weeks of December. During these first two weeks of December, harvest would be allowed by any legal means.

For rainbow and brown trout along a section of the Guadalupe River below Canyon Lake, there’s a 12- to 18-inch slot length limit with a five-fish daily bag limit, harvest by artificial lures only, and only one trout over 18 inches could be retained. The new zone begins 800 yards downstream from the dam release, extending downstream to the Highway 306 bridge.

“The Commission also granted authority for (the TPWD) executive director to impose temporary prohibition of alligator gar fishing in specified areas  ... during spawning,” says Lightfoot. “Closures would be in a selected area, limited to no more than 30 days, and occur only in areas having an active moderate flood event with water temperatures within an optimum range.”

In other freshwater fishing regulation changes, the commission adopted the following:

• Texas/Louisiana border waters (Toledo Bend Reservoir, Caddo Lake, and the Lower Sabine River in Newton and Orange counties) — No minimum length limit for blue and channel catfish changed and a 50-fish daily bag limit in any combination, of which no more than five blue or channel cats 30 inches or longer could be retained.

• Tradinghouse Creek Reservoir — Special limits for freshwater lakes where red drum have been stocked are removed, and regulations revert to statewide length limits (20-inch minimum length limit, 28-inch maximum length limit, and harvest of up to two red drum 28 inches or longer per year with trophy drum tag). Bag limit remains at three.

• Recreational anglers who fish with jug lines will be allowed to use floats of any color except orange. Commercial anglers will continue to be restricted to using orange-colored floats.

Golden Pass LNG works with DU Murphree WMA

Golden Pass LNG recently pledged $130,000 in support of Ducks Unlimited’s conservation programs at the J.D. Murphree WMA in Port Arthur.

In partnership with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and DU, Golden Pass provided more than 3.2 million cubic yards of dredge material for use on projects at the Salt Bayou Unit of the J.D. Murphree WMA. DU managed the placement of the material, which raised marsh elevations to desirable levels and will continue to encourage growth of important plants on more than 2,200 acres.

The shoreline protection project constructed about three miles of rock breakwater along the Intracoastal Waterway to protect more than 900 acres of the Murphree WMA-managed wetlands from wave erosion and saltwater intrusion.

“This will help protect critical winter habitat for continental waterfowl populations, as well as resident mottled ducks and other wetland dependent wildlife,” said Dr. Michael Reszutek, TPWD wetlands and waterfowl specialist.