Biologist sums up trout expectations for 2010

So what kind of speck season does the state’s head saltwater finfish biologist expect?

“Average to a little bit below,” Harry Blanchet said. “Since Hurricane Katrina, we have been catching trout in phenomenal numbers.

“Before Katrina, the maximum harvest was in 2000, with 9.6 million fish weighing 11.3 million pounds. These pale when compared to 2006 when we caught over 13.2 million trout weighing over 14.3 million pounds.”

Average to a little below average didn’t look so bad anymore considering the hauls of recent years. A peek at the numbers showed that from 2001 through 2004, Louisiana anglers took an average of 8.0 million pounds of specks each year.

This compared to an average annual harvest of nearly 12.1 million pounds of trout in the years 2006 through 2008.

Louisiana Sportsman pressed Blanchet to estimate 2009 spotted seatrout landings, even though a portion of the data is still incomplete. After accepting his strong cautions that any number he produced would not be the final number and only be for perspective, he agreed to do some extrapolations from previous years’ data to fill in for the missing data.

His estimated 2009 speckled trout harvest numbers were “about 9.8 to 10.5 million pounds.” That isn’t shabby, considering that even the lower number was only exceeded once (in 2000) in the 24 years prior to Hurricane Katrina.

But the discussion couldn’t end without a teaching moment by the biologist. It was about habitat.

“Reds and specks depend heavily on small, quiet estuarine ponds and lakes in their early life history,” he said. “As we lose them [because of coastal wetland loss], we will lose our ability to sustain the stock at the levels they are now.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part of the “2010 Speck Forecast” found in the April issue of Louisiana Sportsman magazine. For much more, be sure and pick up a copy of the magazine today. Click here to subscribe and receive future issues of the magazine.

About Jerald Horst 959 Articles
Jerald Horst is a retired Louisiana State University professor of fisheries. He is an active writer, book author and outdoorsman.

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