Trends in finfish landings by sport-boat fishermen in Texas marine waters, May 1974-May 1987




Osburn, H.R.
Osborn, M.F.
Maddux, H.R.

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Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Coastal Fisheries Branch


Since May 1974, private-boat fishermen have been routinely interviewed at boat access sites. Party and headboat fishermen have been routinely monitored since May 1983 by on-site and on-board surveys, respectively. The total estimated sport-boat fishing pressure and landings of finfish in 1986-87 was 7,264,600 man-h and 2,825,700 fish, respectively. Pressure and landings increased 14% and 29%, respectively, from 1985-86 to 1986-87. Sport-boat fishing in bays and passes accounted for 93% of the fish. In the same year, private boat fishermen exerted 95% of the pressure and landed 91% of the fish. The high-use season (15 May-20 November 1986) accounted for 65% of the pressure and 72% of the landings. Thirty-eight percent of the 8-year mean annual coastwide private-boat bay and pass fishing pressure and 44% of the landings occurred in the Galveston Bay system. Spotted seatrout (Cynoscion nebulosus) comprised 38% of the 8-year mean annual coastwide private-boat bay and pass landings. Catch rates for spotted seatrout caught by private-boat fishermen declined from 0.20 fish/man-h in 1983-84 to 0.08 fish/man-h in 1984- 85 but increased to 0.14 fish/man-h in 1986-87. The routine sport-boat fishery monitoring program detected a reduction in most finfish landings following the coastwide fish kill in December 1983 and January 1984. A resurgence of some landings occurred during 1985-86 and continued in 1986-87. Party-boat fishermen bay and pass landings (+/- 1 SE) for 1986-87 (140,300 +/- 19,700 fish), although greater than the low of 67,600 +/- 15,000 fish (1984- 85), remain well below the 261,800 +/- 61,000 fish estimated for 1983-84. Forty-one percent of the pressure and 41% of the landings occurred in the lower Laguna Madre system compared to only 6% of the coastwide pressure and landings in Galveston Bay system. Spotted seatrout accounted for over 70% of all landings for party-boat fishermen in the bays. Forty-six percent of all spotted seatrout and 39% of all red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus) landed by party-boats in the bays and passes were from the lower Laguna Madre system. Red drum landings coastwide in 1986-87 for party-boats were 22,400 +/- 4,300, up from 12,100 +/- 3,000 estimated for 1983-84. Pressure in 1986-87 for bay and pass headboat fishermen was the lowest (108,900 +/- 10,800 man-h) of any year. Forty-four percent of the pressure and 455 of the landings occurred on weekends during the high-use season. Galveston Bay system accounted for 46% of the pressure and 60% of the landings. Sand seatrout (Cynoscion arenarius) comprised 65% of the landings of headboat fishermen; Atlantic croaker (Micropogonias undulatus) was the next most common species (17%). Private-boat fishing pressure in the Texas Territorial Sea (TTS) for 1986-87 was 281,100 +/- 82,700 man-h, while fishermen landed an estimated 81,900 +/- 39,200 fish. The high-use season accounted for 91% of the annual coastwide pressure and 81% of the landings. Sand seatrout accounted for 49% of all fishes landed; king mackerel (Scomberomorus cavalla) and red snapper (Lutjanus campechanus) accounted for 15% and 12%, respectively. Pressure estimates for party-boat fishermen in the TTS ranged from 7,600 +/- 6,000 man-h in 1986-87 to 46,500 +/- 20,900 man-h in 1983-84. Ninety-four percent of the annual pressure and landings occurred during the high-use season. Corpus Christi and lower Laguna Madre areas combined accounted for 93% of the coastwide pressure and 91% of the landings. King mackerel represented 46% of the fish landed from the TTS. Pressure in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) by private-boat fishermen in 1986-87 dropped to 189,000 +/- 37,300 man-h from a record high in 1985-86 of 267,500 +/- 45,600 man-h. High-use weekends accounted for 64% of the annual pressure and 46% of the landings. Although pressure was greatest in the Corpus Christi area of the EEZ (37%), the Galveston area had 44% of the landings for the past 5 years, Matagorda area 29%, and Corpus Christi area only 16% of the landings. Red snapper were the most often landed fish, accounting for 38% of the annual landings by private-boat fishermen in the EEZ. Sand seatrout were the second most often landed fish (18%) followed by king mackerel (15%). Annual party-boat pressure in the EEZ decreased from 117,100 +/- 46,400 man-h in 1983-84 to a low of 18,000 +/- 6,000 man-h in 1985-86 and then increased in 1986-87 to 44,400 +/- 18,100 man-h. High-use weekdays accounted for 68% of the pressure and landings. Sixty-six percent of the pressure and 63% of the landings (1983-84 to 1986-87) in the EEZ occurred off the Corpus Christi area. However, 73% of that pressure and 69% of those landings occurred in a single year, 1983-84. King mackerel accounted for 35% of the landings in the EEZ.


525 pgs.


fishermen, sport fishing, fish kill, pressure, spotted seatrout, red drum, sand seatrout, Atlantic croaker, king mackerel, red snapper