Monitoring of coastal finfish resources for sport fish management, October 1978 - September 1979




Hegen, H.E.
Matlock, G.C.

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Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Coastal Fisheries Branch


Gill nets, trammel nets and bag seines were utilized during October 1978-September 1979 in each of seven Texas bay systems (Galveston, Matagorda, San Antonio, Aransas and Corpus Christi bays and the upper and lower Laguna Madre systems) to monitor the trends in relative abundance and size of the recreationally important saltwater fishes: red drum (Sciaenops ocellata), spotted seatrout (Cynoscion nebulosus), black drum (Pogonias cromis), sheepshead (Archosargus probatocephalus), southern flounder (Paralichthys lethostigma) and Atlantic croaker (Micropogon undulatus). During the same period the trends in relative availability and size of the six species in the East Matagorda bay system were monitored utilizing gill nets only. Except in Aransas and Corpus Christi Bays, the annual catch rates with gill nets of red drum, spotted seatrout and black drum were higher than those of sheepshead, southern flounder and Atlantic croaker within each bay system. Atlantic croaker were caught with the least regularity, regardless of month or bay system. The highest annual catch of spotted seatrout (0.62 fish/h) and black drum (0.84 fish/h) occurred in the lower Laguna Madre. The highest catch of red drum (0.85 fish/h) occurred in Matagorda Bay. The individual meshes of the gill net were selective for species and size regardless of month or bay system. In each bay system, the 7.6- and 10.2-cm stretches meshes caught primarily red drum and spotted seatrout. Black drum and sheepshead were caught primarily in the 10.2- and 12.7-cm meshes. Catch rates of southern flounder were low in all mesh sizes and all bay system. Atlantic croaker were restricted almost exclusively to the 7.6-cm mesh. Highest annual catch rates with trammel nets of red drum (2.82 fish/ha) and spotted seatrout (3.30 fish/ha) occurred in Matagorda bay and the lower Laguna Madre, respectively. Annual catch rates of black drum were highest in Matagorda (5.38 fish/ha), Galveston (1.98 fish/ha) and Aransas Bays (1.79 fish/ha). Trammel net catches of sheepshead, southern flounder and Atlantic croaker either varied greatly or were too low to detect consistent monthly trends. Monthly changes in mean total lengths were apparent for red drum and spotted seatrout in all bay systems. No size variations were apparent for the other species in any bay system. Annual catch rates with bag seines indicated variation in relative abundance among bay systems of juvenile red drum (4.89-29.66 fish/ha), spotted seatrout (1.56-48.83 fish/ha), black drum (1.90-37.04 fish/ha) and Atlantic croaker (2.78-466.20 fish/ha). Monthly catch rate and size patterns wree apparent for red drum, spotted seatrout and Atlantic croaker. No apparent trends could be detected for catch rates and sizes of juvenile sheepshead and southern flounder.


245 pgs.


finfish, spotted seatrout, red drum, black drum, sheepshead, southern flounder, Atlantic croaker, pressure, gear selectivity, species diversity, abundance, life history, size, gillnets, seine nets, catch statistics