Special Contract Fishing by Pace Fish Company, 9 May 1976 - 10 May 1977
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department entered into a 1-yr contract with Pace Fish Company of Brownsville, Texas to evaluate the use of pound nets, trawls and striking rigs for the harvest of underutilized fish species. The pound net used consisted of a leader, two hearts and a trap (pound). The leaders used were made of 1-6-inch stretched mesh multifilament webbing (5-7 ft high) erected on willow poles to form a straight fencelike barrier which detoured fish schools into the hearts. The hearts (so named because of their shape) consisted of 3-inche stretched mesh multifilament webbing (7 ft high) erected on willow poles. The hearts corralled the fish and funneled them into the trap where they were harvested with a dip net. Catches with this gear were low, partly because the fish schools were not detoured into the trap and partly because of poor net maintenance. The catch consisted primarily of Gulf menhaden (Breevoortia patronus) and southern stringray (Dasyatis americana). Game fish accounted for 1.7% of the catch. the 40-ft trawl, made on 3 5/8-inch stretched mesh multifilament webbing, was towed at 2 1/2-3 1/2 mph behind a fish scooter powered by a 75 hp outboard motor. This gear was used only four times and catches were low. Game fish accounted for 1.5% of the catch. The 1200 x 3-ft striking rig consisted of wings made of 2-inch stretched mesh multifilament nylon webbing and a 12 x 12-ft bag or pocket of 1 1/2-inch stretched mesh webbing. The net was carried on a platform attached to the stern of a 16-ft tunnel skiff powered by a 70 hp outboard motor. The coastal flats (water depth: 1/2-2 ft) were searched in a zig-zag pattern for black drum (Pogonias cromis) schools. When a school was located the net was anchored and laid out around it at boat speeds of 10-25 mph. Having encircled the school, the boat was used to pull the net and diminish the circle diameter, concentrating the fish in the bag which was removed and transported to a fish house. This was the most used, efficient and selective gear type. The catch included 37,438 finfish of which 98% were black drum (Table A). Game fish accounted for 1.3% of the catch. The maximum catch/strike for black drum occurred in July; the maximum catch/strike for sheepshead occurred in September. Very little could be said concerning the relationship between catch rates and weather conditions. The data were few and only general trends could be discerned.