Presenter: Larry McKinney

Commission Agenda Item No. 7
The Coastal Fishing Forecast
April 2006

I. Executive Summary: This item, based on our coastal surveys, provides our best estimate of what fishing conditions will be in the coming season.

II. Discussion: Staff will provide an update on the outlook for coastal fisheries this year. While fishing pressure remains high, our fish stocks remain healthy.

Coast-wide fishing effort decreased 1% from 5,273,000 angler-hrs in 2003-04, to 5,212,400 angler-hrs in 2004-05, probably because of the increased fuel costs. Despite the drop in effort, coast-wide landings for all species combined increased 2% to 1,500,195 fish in 2004-05.

Catch rates (the number of fish caught per hour of effort) for all species combined increased by 3% from 0.279 fish per hour in 2003-04 to 0.288 fish per hour in 2004-05. When the statistics for game fish are examined separately, spotted seatrout saw an increase in catch rate of 1% (from 0.122 to 0.124) and red drum remained at a 10-year record high (0.040).

Coast-wide landings for spotted seatrout increased 1% to 646,484 fish in 2004-05, while red drum landings decreased 1% to 209,013 fish in 2004-05.

Gill net surveys indicate high abundance of 19 to 30 inch trout from the strong year classes of 2000-2004. Red drum abundance is at near-record numbers, with high numbers of 20-24 inch fish available from the 2003-year class. Good numbers of 14-20 inch flounder are also present.