LDWF tight-lipped on 2019 speckled trout forecast

Mike White caught these two mega-trout while fishing Grand Isle last summer.
Mike White caught these two mega-trout while fishing Grand Isle last summer.

Current stock assessment prevents predictions, biologist says

In mid-March, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries sent out a press release indicating that an internal assessment of the state’s speckled trout stock showed it was being overfished, and landings had decreased to their lowest levels in recent years.

But Patrick Banks, assistant secretary for fisheries, said trout limits for 2019 “probably” would not be affected while the results were being reevaluated by department biologists.

“We will have a better sense of where we are when the stock assessment results are compiled, evaluated and finalized,” Banks said in the release. “But we do know that the stock’s numbers have dropped.”

That news perhaps didn’t come as a huge surprise to some coastal anglers, who have reported fewer and fewer speck catches over the last several years.

But it did raise lots of questions, like when exactly did the department start realizing the stock was overfished.

Cyrus Sloane Jr. hooked his first keeper speckled trout in Grand Chenier.
Cyrus Sloane Jr. hooked his first keeper speckled trout in Grand Chenier.

And when will this current assessment be completed? Or what kind of time frame is the department operating on, and when might anglers know the status of any potential bag and size limit modifications?

If an April interview with an LDWF fisheries biologist is any indication, don’t expect any new information regarding the status of speckled trout anytime soon — or even what kind of trout action anglers might expect in the short term.

“Unfortunately, we really can’t make any predictions like that given we’re in the process of doing this evaluation, so I’d hesitate to give any predictions,” Jason Adriance said.

He also didn’t offer any type of timeline for when the assessment would be completed.

“Each one is different,” he said. “It comes down to working with the data that’s in it, so I can’t really give you a timeline, unfortunately … Once it’s rerun, that assessment is going to go out for external peer review after an internal review.

“When we get it back, we’ve got to consider any comments that were made in that peer review, and then we’ll go from there.”

He did confirm the finalized assessment would at some point be presented to the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission along with the department’s management recommendations.

Until then, it appears everyone will just have to wait while the numbers get crunched.

“Once we have answers, we’ll have those,” Adriance said. “But they’ll be science-backed based on the assessment.”

Patrick Bonin
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Patrick Bonin is the former editor of Louisiana Sportsman magazine and LouisianaSportsman.com.