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Reminder: New Rules in Effect for November Flounder Run
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Texas Parks and Wildlife Department officials are reminding coastal anglers that during November flounder fishing is allowed by rod and reel only, with no gigging allowed, and the bag limit has been reduced to two fish.
These regulations, as well as the reduction of the bag limit to five fish during the rest of the year, went into effect Sept. 1. The purpose is to protect greater numbers of migrating flounder as they move to offshore waters during the peak of the spawning run, part of a regulatory strategy to try to increase the abundance of a species in decline.
TPWD Coastal Fisheries Division data shows that the relative abundance of flounder has fallen by about 50 percent since the early 1980s, so that flounder populations are now about half what they once were. Anglers all along the Texas Gulf coast reported a rebound in flounder numbers in 2007 and 2008, also reflected in TPWD sampling, but even that short-term increase in relative abundance places numbers near the bottom of the long-term trend.
The timing of the new rule coincides with the peak of the annual fall flounder run, which has been targeted historically by giggers and rod and reel anglers alike as flounder congregate at Gulf passes. Many anglers consider this run the best time of the year to fill stringers. Unfortunately, flounder have been unable to keep pace with harvest and the new regulations hope to allow more fish, particularly young adults, a chance to spawn and replace themselves prior to harvest.
Coastal Fisheries Division biologists expect that by allowing more fish to spawn that more hatchlings will return to the bays and flounder will become more abundant for anglers. It is thought that because of the relatively short, six-year life span of flounder, within two years anglers will begin to see a noticeable increase in flounder abundance. Modeling suggests the new regulations will result in an increase of spawning stock biomass of slightly more than 80 percent over six years, with the majority of that recovery taking place in the first several years.
Although flounder gigging is not allowed during the month of November and the bag limit will be reduced to two fish by rod and reel only, beginning Dec. 1, gigging will be allowed and bag limits will return to five for recreational fishermen and 30 for commercial fishermen.
For more information about the new flounder rules, anyone can contact TPWD Coastal Fisheries Outreach Specialists Tonya Wiley for the upper coast at Dickinson Marine Lab, firstname.lastname@example.org or (281) 534-0131; or Art Morris for the lower coast at the Corpus Christi Field Station, email@example.com or (361) 825-3356.
PHOTO EDITORS NOTE: color images of flounder are available for news media use as high resolution .jpg files on the TPWD News Images Web pages.
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