Annual Texas flounder migration brings bag limit, regulation changes

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Filleting the flatfish requires a different approach than other saltwater dwellers and care should be taken to maximize the amount of meat you extract from the tasty catch.
Flounder always are a welcome addition to a daily bag limit.

Texas Parks & Wildlife Department officials are reminding saltwater anglers that during November flounder fishing is allowed by rod and reel only, with no gigging allowed, and the bag limit is reduced to two fish. The two-fish bag also was extended this year into the first two weeks of December, though during that period harvest is allowed by any legal means.

The bag limit the rest of the year is five fish with the same 14-inch length minimum.

The purpose of the yearly bag limit reduction 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, fisheries officials have said.

The timing of the regulations 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. Biologists expect that by allowing more fish to spawn that more hatchlings will return to the bays and flounder will become more abundant.

Previous TPWD data showed that the abundance of flounder had fallen by about 50 percent since the early 1980s, which triggered the move to curb harvest during times of year when fish are grouped more tightly. Biologists have said they expect that by allowing more fish to spawn that more hatchlings will return to the bays and flounder populations will increase. Modeling suggests the 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, officials have said.

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