Updated on July 6, 2022
We all remember the Great Texas Freeze. In February 2021, a winter storm in Texas caused the loss of power across much of the state. There was snow and ice that stuck around for days, making travel to find food and supplies difficult if not impossible.
People weren’t the only ones impacted by the cold weather. Wildlife suffered, and there was a major fish kill along the majority of the Texas coast. Fortunately, the Upper Texas Coast, generally considered to include the Galveston Bay Complex and Sabine Lake, were spared from much of the impact of the freeze thanks to their deeper water in which the fish could escape the chill. The impact of the cold weather was most apparent along the Middle Texas Coast and the Lower Texas Coast.
The weeks and months immediately after the winter storm were a difficult period for coastal anglers. The images of dead fish and the survey results showing reductions in the overall fish populations were initially quite discouraging.
Fast forward a year and a half or so, and fishing along the Texas coast has turned a major corner. Chances of catching your limit in the months after the freeze were slim, but things have really picked up in the middle of 2022.
Speckled trout were the hardest hit game fish during the Great Texas Freeze. Texas fishermen immediately noticed their absence during fishing trips in the spring and summer of 2021. Since that time, the number of speckled trout being caught has steadily increased. By Spring 2022, some of the top fishing guides were once again finding a good number of speckled trout.
Changes in the speckled trout bag limit and size limit are also making a difference. For the area starting generally at East Matagorda Bay and running south to the Mexico border, the daily speckled trout bag limit has dropped from 5 fish to 3 fish. The speckled trout size limit has also changed: from 15-25 inches with 1 oversized fish; to 17-23 inches with no oversized fish. Texas has tightened speckled trout limits in this area from March 16, 2022, until August 31, 2023.
As you might expect, when the new regulations went into effect on March 16th, the 16-inch speckled trout seemed to start showing up everywhere. Several over the slot size 24-to-26-inch speckled trout are being caught as well. It is great to see the fish making such a comeback. Of course, the numbers of slot speckled trout between 17 and 23 inches are also steadily climbing.
Redfish, although certainly impacted by the storm, never seemed to completely disappear the way that the speckled trout vanished. Since the Great Texas Freeze, Redfish have been a little more scattered and seem to be concentrated in smaller spots. But, many of the top fishing guides have been putting customers on limits of redfish both before and after the winter storm.
There was some early concern amongst fishermen that the increased fishing pressure on redfish caused by the decline in speckled trout would make it more difficult to find these hard-fighting fish, but the reds are still doing well and seem to be improving in numbers. Other popular fish species such as flounder and drum are also proving much easier to catch in 2022 than they were following the 2021 freeze.
Overall, it is great to see the improvements in fishing taking place along the Texas Coast. Mother nature is doing its job, and some of the new regulations will only help with increasing the sizes and numbers of fish. Redfish are still stretching lines for many lucky anglers, and both the size and quantity of speckled trout are increasing rapidly. It’s a great time to be enjoying a weekend on the water, and the future of Texas fishing is going to be outstanding.