Survey of finfish harvest in selected Texas bays
Heffernan, T.L., A.W. Green, L.W. McEachron, M.G. Weixelman, P.C. Hammerschmidt, and R.A. Harrington
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A survey of the creels of sport anglers in the Galveston Bay area, the San Antonio Bay area, the Aransas Bay area and the Upper Laguna Madre area was conducted from September 1974 through August 1975. The catch estimates were derived from completed trip interviews at stratified locations within each area established to survey anglers who used boats, wade-bank area and lighted piers. Pressure estimates were obtained by roving counters who traveled through each area during one of the two periods selected randomly on 26 randomly selected days each quarter (3 months). The rover counted the numbers of fishermen at all access areas and the numbers of boat trailers at all boat ramps within the survey area. The total sport angler harvest for the four bay systems was estimated to be 5,231,000 fish which weighed 4,827,000 lb. The harvest by bay area was 2,834,000 lb in Galveston, 416,000 lb in San Antonio, 519,000 lb in Aransas and 1,058,000 lb in Upper Laguna Madre. Sport boat fishermen harvested 81.6% of the total sport harvest (pounds), wade-bank anglers caught 13.3% and lighted pier fishermen caught 5.1%. The harvest in pounds of fish per man-hour of effort was 00.67 for the Galveston Bay area, 1.08 lb for the San Antonio Bay area, 0.52 lb for the Aransas Bay area and 0.67 lb for the Upper Laguna Madre area. Total fishing effort for the four survey areas was 7,183,000 man-hours of which the Galveston Bay area received 4,226,000 man-hours, the San Antonio Bay area 386,000, the Aransas Bay area 998,000, and the Upper Laguna Madrea area 1,573,000. Sport fishing pressure was greatest during the summer quarter with 3,114,900 man-hours of effort (43.4% of annual total) which produced a harvest of 1,987,900 lb of fish or 41.2% of the total sport catch. Seasonal catch per effort was highest in the fall quarter in the Galveston (0.94 lb/man-hour), San Antonio (1.53 lb/mh) and Upper Laguna Madre (0.79 lb/mh) areas. The Aransas Bay area was highest during the winter quarter with 0.85 lb/mh. The total sport catch for all areas was comprised of 2,243,000 lb (46.4% of the total sport harvest) of spotted seatrout (Cynoscion nebulosus), 412,000 lb (8.5%) of red drum (Sciaenops ocellata), 313,000 lb (6.5%) of black drum (Pogonias cromis), 247,000 lb (5.2%) of southern flounder (Paralichthys lethostigma), 212,000 lb (4.4%) of sheepshead (Archosargus probatocephalus), 144,000 lb (3.0%) of gafftopsail catfish (Bagre marinus), and 242,000 lb (5.0%) of other species. Sports-caught spotted seatrout averaged 13.6 inches in length and 1.06 lb. Red drum averaged 17.0 inches in length and 2.21 lb. A total of 1,633,600 sport fishing trips were made in the survey areas by an estimated 100,840 individual fishermen. Texas residents comprised over 98% of the total fishermen in each system except the Aransas Bay area where 20.8% of the 16,830 fishermen were non-resident. Commercial fishermen in the same survey areas harvested an estimated 2,600,700 lb of fish of which the Galveston Bay area produced 464,500 lb, the San Antonio Bay area 482,200 lb, the Aransas Bay area 582,000 lb and the Upper Laguna Madre 1,071,800 lb. The total commercial catch in pounds was comprised of 35.5% spotted seatrout, 33.7% red drum, 19.1% black drum, 4.3% southern flounder, 4.8% sheepshead. Atlantic croaker (Micropogon undulatus), and gafftopsail catfish, as a group, comprised 2.6% of the total pounds. Commercial-caught spotted seatrout averaged 17.3 inches in length and 1.69 lb, red drum averaged 19.4 inches in length and 3.02 lb and black drum averaged 17.0 inches and 2.60 lb. The combined sport and commercial harvest from the four bays surveyed, excluding 241,000 lb of other species from the sport estimate, was 7,186,000 lb. The sport anglers harvested 63.8 % of this poundage.