The term “conservation” often takes on different meanings based upon the subject of the conversation. For example, a homebuilder’s focal point may be to build homes with high energy conservation ratings. Farmers and ranchers in dry regions of the country focus primarily on water conservation to nurture their crops and livestock. Whereas it’s understandable that a coastal guide outfit may mainly be concerned with environmental or marine conservation.
BFL’s Environmental Effort
Bay Flats Lodge has made great strides toward environmental conservation via our Kick Plastic initiative. We’ve rid our daily operations of all single-use plastics. We no longer use Styrofoam cups, plastic dishes or cutlery, or plastic bags for clothing and daily boat lunches. We’re implementing the final phase now, where we’ll be eliminating single-use plastic water bottles on all our boats. Replacing the plastic bottles are Yeti backpacks carrying two gallons of water, and 16oz refillable Yeti bottles for everyone aboard. These actions allow us to provide a repeatable and sustainable process to aid in the conservation of our surrounding environment.
The elimination of our use of plastics will make a remarkable impact on environmental conservation, but we’re not stopping there. We must do our part in completing the conservation circle as it pertains to us at the lodge – marine conservation. We’re talking about a sustainable solution that will help safeguard our local fishery for generations to come. We’re not suggesting we impose size or bag limits upon our lodge guests, as managing agencies have already done that. Instead, we’re introducing the option for our guests to designate their fishing trip as being a “Catch and Release” trip. When you book your stay, you can simply choose whether you’d like your trip to be catch and release.
An Incomplete Solution
Catch and release is a conservation method first used in the U.S. in the 1950’s in the Michigan area. It was introduced as a means of protecting and cutting down on the cost of stocked trout in the region. It was later recognized as an importance in successfully managing the decline of the Atlantic salmon populations. It has caught on and endured throughout the years and is effective in promoting sustainable fisheries and protecting marine ecosystems.
As a result of the devastating 1983 Texas freeze, an estimated 20 million inland game fish and finfish perished. The conservation act that followed was the immediate reduction of the speckled trout daily bag limit from 20 to 10. In 2007, following a steady increase in fishing pressure, the speckled trout limits were again cut from 10 to 5. Now, in 2022, we are once again faced with the tightening of speckled trout regulations along our Texas coast. Trout limits have now been reduced from 5 to 3 in areas hit hardest by the freeze in 2021. However, while bag limits are effective, they are not the end-all cure.
The Rest of the Story – Sustainability
You can probably think of a couple different reasons why catch and release may be a viable alternative. First, you may enjoy fishing, but you don’t enjoy eating fish and don’t want to take any home with you. Or perhaps you simply want to contribute to the conservation of your fishery. Whatever your reason may be, you can rest assured that catch and release is a valid and useful conservation tool.
As an angler, it’s easy to think you’re an individual without much impact on a destination. When planning your next trip, think again about the initiatives to support the infrastructure – be a part of making this more than a short-lived trend. Our Bay Flats Lodge catch and release program is another way we’re inviting you to become part of the solution. Ultimately, however, the choice is yours. Contact us to get our help with planning you a more sustainable fishing trip – catch and release!