Louisiana Speck Regulations Seem Headed for a Big Change

State marine biologists say Louisiana seatrout are overfished and are recommending a reduction in daily bag limit and an increase in trout size limit.
Louisiana trout fishing
Seatrout limit changes could be coming to help ease overfishing. Courtesy Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

No fish is more sought after in coastal Louisiana than the spotted seatrout. The rich marine bounty of Louisiana is broad, with everything from blue marlin to red drum in abundance. Among the state’s anglers, few fish are held in higher esteem than the seatrout, or as they’re known in the Bayou State, “speckled trout.”

Compared to almost all other coastal states, Louisiana is rich with trout. But according to a report by a state marine biologist, seatrout are being overfished and recommendations have been made to Louisiana fisheries commissioners to reduce the angler daily bag limit, and increase the trout size limit, too, according to Louisiana Sportsman.

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) marine biologist Jason Adriance told state fisheries commissioners at a monthly meeting on Sept. 1 that the state trout “stock is still overfished. We’re still at a point where we feel we need management actions. There has been slightly more (seatrout) harvested.”

Louisiana Sportsman reports that Adriance told state fisheries commissioners in a March meeting that Louisiana’s Finfish Task Force members were in favor of reducing the state’s daily seatrout bag limit from the current 25 fish per day to 15 seatrout. Further, the Task Force was in favor of increasing the state seatrout minimum length limit from 12 inches to 13.5 inches.

In 2021, a state seatrout stock assessment showed Louisiana’s speckled trout had been overfished since 2016. According to Adriance, Louisiana’s spawning biomass of trout is too low because overfishing by anglers has removed too many trout for them to effectively resupply the trout stock.

Adriance did note that the 1.8 million angler trips to the state this year is slightly down from previous years. This could be a result of the pandemic losing its grip, as more people are pursuing other activities besides fishing, which skyrocketed in participation during COVID-19.

Nevertheless, proposals to reduce trout limits and increase the trout minimum size limit has been made by Louisiana’s fisheries staff. Now the LDWF will hold public hearings and solicit public comment on the proposal before ruling on modifying seatrout regulations.

Sportsmen may recall the shock waves that rippled through Louisiana’s anglers and visiting fishermen years ago when the state seatrout daily limit was reduced from 50 to 25. Whether such reaction is forthcoming for the most recent trout proposals is anyone’s guess. But Louisiana’s fisheries managers have laid the groundwork for possible major trout limit changes.