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Seatrout Limit Jumps To 14 Inches

GON Staff | January 11, 2016

Georgia saltwater anglers will need to take notice of any seatrout they catch after a change in the length limit went into effect on Jan. 1.

Georgia Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Mark Williams announced during the October Board of Natural Resources meeting an approval to an increase in the minimum-size limit for spotted seatrout from 13 inches to 14 inches, total length. DNR reports that the vote was taken after considering public comment provided through two public hearings and e-mail.

A press release from DNR’s Coastal Resources Division reported, “In 2012, the Finfish Advisory Panel (FAP) was created to advise DNR on saltwater finfish management. Membership included a commercial fisherman, saltwater fishing guides and anglers from the coastal area and inland. The FAP members met with DNR staff over the past three years learning about the biology, population trends and management goals for spotted seatrout. A majority of the FAP members, in concurrence with DNR staff, recommended that the Board of Natural Resources consider changing Georgia’s saltwater fishing regulations to increase the spotted seatrout minimum size.”

The idea behind an increased seatrout length limit is designed to help the overall fishery. According to www.CoastalGaDNR.org/Trout, there is improved egg production from the larger female trout.

The website reports that a, “14-inch female trout produces 20 percent more eggs each time she spawns as compared to a 13-inch female trout. Allowing the fish to reach a larger size, and thus an older age, also provides more opportunities for it to spawn. Increased egg production means, on average, a greater abundance of spotted seatrout in Georgia waters.”

Still, not all anglers are in agreement with the new minimum size limit. Capt. David Newlin, a saltwater fishing guide and a member of the FAP, is against the new 14-inch minimum length.

“We were told that the DNR knows best,” said David. “Spud Woodward (CRD director) told me at a fishery meeting that he couldn’t manage fish by public opinion. Spud’s other remark was ‘proactive fishing regulations.’ In other words, I would sum it up as not needed, not necessary, not wanted fishing regulations.”

Spud, who is avid saltwater angler, is optimistic that 2016 will be a good year for seatrout anglers. He said he went coastal fishing the weekend of Dec. 12.

“We caught more than 50 trout. We kept 10 that were between 14 and 18 inches. There were lots of fish between 13.5 and 14 inches that will be keepers in another month. This abnormally warm weather is good for trout. Barring something weird, like a sudden and severe drop in water temperature between now and next spring, we should have a good population of harvestable trout in 2016.”

More information on the spotted seatrout minimum-size change regulation is available at CoastalGaDNR.org/Trout.

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