Waters remain choppy for many fishing guides along the Texas coast

ARANSAS PASS, Texas – Even though hurricane season doesn’t begin until June 1, a perfect storm of problems, including mass fish kills, continues to affect fishing guides and their clients along the Texas coast.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department estimates that 3.8 million fish were killed in the 2021 winter storm.

State wildlife experts believe the extreme cold wiped out significant numbers of speckled sea trout along Laguna Madre, a 130-mile-long shallow lagoon that hugs the Texas coast.

For this reason, TPWD released new guidelines in 2022 intended to help the species bounce back.

Along Laguna Madre there is now a limit of three fish per person and you cannot keep speckled trout under 17 inches or over 23 inches.

Captain Justin Ivey, an angling guide based at Aransas Pass, said competition to catch prized game fish has become fiercer and may require longer days on the water.

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“We are looking for 15 or 16 inch fish for customers. It will take work. It will take us 10 to 15 fish to find that 17-inch trout,” he says.

Ivey’s charter fishing business had just begun to rebound from a wave of COVID-related trip cancellations when new fishing regulations took effect.

Now higher fuel prices are causing him to charge more to help offset the cost of filling his truck and boat.

“I used to charge $500 for two, $600 for three, and $700 for four (people). Now I charge $600, $700 and $800. We had to go up,” Ivey said.

He says bait prices are also higher.

The fishing is still excellent for those willing to pay, especially lovers of the red drum also known as rockfish.

KSAT went on a day trip with Captain Ivey as part of “Gone Fishin’ with Mark Austin”.

Our two-man crew had fun catching at least seven rockfish, keeping a maximum of three per person.

To book a trip with Justin, find ‘Ivey League Guide Service’ on Facebook or call 361-904-2425.

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