New trout rule won’t accomplish much

This just in: The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission today passed a regulation restricting hunters to only two bucks scoring more than 160 B&C per season. The future of deer hunting in Louisiana is saved!Just kidding, just kidding. The LWFC passed no such regulation, but what would happen if it did?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Why? Because very few people kill even one 160-class buck in a season. The odds of killing two are about the same as being struck by lightning. Killing more than two? Well, if you can do that, you need to buy a lottery ticket. Either that, or open the pen and let those deer out.

The commission passed an equally worthless regulation at its December meeting that limits anglers in Southwest Louisiana to five speckled trout per day measuring in excess of 25 inches. You can still catch your 25, but no more than 20 percent of your limit may be wall-hanging trophies.

Please. What a waste of paper.

The trophy trout fishing on Calcasieu Lake and, during certain seasons, Sabine Lake is incredibly good. An angler fishing there with the right conditions anywhere from February through the end of June has an extremely good shot of catching the biggest trout of his life. Odds are he won’t boat something he can put on his wall, but that’s the nature of trophy fishing. If an angler were guaranteed to catch big trout, they wouldn’t be considered trophies. But still, the odds are much shorter in Calcasieu and Sabine than they are at most places in the state, even in the country.

Consequently, Calcasieu, especially, has gotten pounded the last few years by anglers who hire area guides or tow their boats from as far away as Shreveport, New Orleans and Houston, every one of them hoping to catch a fish worth bragging about. On many days, the winds are too strong, the tide is too weak, the water’s too cold or hot, whatever, so the fish don’t bite well. Diligent anglers might catch some fish, but limits of any kind are few and far between.

But on other days, all the stars line up just right, conditions are perfect, and the trout — especially big trout — really get whacked. Anglers from the Old Jetty to Turner’s Bay have tremendous success, and many boat their limits.

But how many of those fish will be over 25 inches? I guarantee you, even on Calcasieu, which is so thick with so many trophies, it’s less than 20 percent.

So what does that mean? Except in isolated instances, the commission’s new trout regulation is worthless. What is the purpose of protecting trophy trout? Is there a biological reason to do so? No. Will the species collapse if these fish aren’t protected? No. Are anglers mauling the brood stock by harvesting trophy trout? No.

In the long-term, harvesting a trophy trout has absolutely no impact on the fishery as long as spawning potential ratios are maintained at a healthy level. In Louisiana, SPRs are fine. There are plenty eggs to keep the fishery in top condition.

But protecting a trophy trout has a tremendous short-term benefit. If that fish is released, it may bite another angler’s lure, and provide him with the thrill of catching a trophy. If he releases it, it may bite yet another angler’s lure after, perhaps, it grows into a state-record. Or it may get eaten by a shark the day after it was first caught. Who knows?

But one thing’s certain: If it is harvested, its days of growing and biting lures are pretty well over.

So why set the limit at five? Who needs five trophy fish?

I agree that a limit of one trophy is too restrictive. An angler may boat a trophy, and then catch one bigger. The lure of glory may prove greater than the conviction of doing the right thing.

But two trophies is plenty enough for anybody, and such a regulation might actually have some impact on the fishery.

The current one won’t.

About Todd Masson 670 Articles
Todd Masson has covered outdoors in Louisiana for a quarter century, and is host of the Marsh Man Masson channel on YouTube.

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