With snook and redfish closed, anglers looking to bring home a fresh Charlotte Harbor fish dinner have had fewer options. While there are several species from which to choose — black drum, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, mangrove snapper, even gafftopsail catfish — it seems for many fishermen the default table choice is seatrout.
If you’re one of those who likes to bring the occasional trout home to fillet (and count me in your club, by the way), state regulators have good news: Seatrout are exceeding the FWC’s management goal, which is a spawning potential ratio (SPR) of at least 35 percent.
SPR is one of those nerd biologist terms that most people don’t understand. But SPR isn’t too hard: It’s a measure of how many eggs would be produced by a population of fish if there were no fishing pressure at all from humans. So if we weren’t here, all fish would have an SPR of 100 percent. An SPR of 35 percent simply means that a little more than a third of the potential spawning actually happens.
Our regulators tell us that an SPR of just 20 percent will actually give us a sustainable population of seatrout. But in order the maintain a higher level of abundance — because most fishermen would rather go out and catch a bunch of fish than just a few — the 35 percent goal is what’s been used for years.
So what I’m wondering is this: Does your personal experience jibe with the FWC’s official line? Are you out there catching trout left and right, or do things seem to be a little slower than you might have expected?
Of course, a great deal of that is going to depend on your skill level and how familiar you are with where to find the trout here in Charlotte Harbor. From what I’ve seen and heard lately, I’d say that overall the trout seem to be holding up pretty well, but having a few more out there wouldn’t hurt anything.
Anyway, the FWC would like to know what you think about how good the trout fishing is, and whether you believe any rules changes would be good, bad or indifferent. You can take their short survey at bit.ly/2BAJEYB. It took me about 4 minutes, and I really thought about my answers, so it’s a breeze.
Contact Capt. Josh Olive at 941-276-9657 or Publisher@WaterLineWeekly.com.