Waters remain choppy for many fishing guides along the Texas coast

Effects of COVID-19 pandemic, a winter storm fish kill and higher gas prices linger

ARANSAS PASS, Texas – Even though the hurricane season doesn’t begin until June 1, a perfect storm of problems, including a massive fish kill, continue to affect fishing guides and their clients along the Texas coast.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department estimates that 3.8 million fish were killed in the winter storm of 2021.

State wildlife experts believe the extreme cold wiped out a significant number of speckled sea trout along the Laguna Madre, a 130-mile-long shallow lagoon that hugs the Texas coastline.

For that reason, TPWD issued new guidelines in 2022 meant to help the species rebound.

Along the Laguna Madre, there is now a three-fish limit per person and you cannot maintain possession of speckled trout smaller than 17 inches or larger than 23 inches.

Capt. Justin Ivey, a fishing guide based in Aransas Pass, says competition to catch the prized game fish has become more fierce and could require longer days on the water.

“We’re looking for 15 or 16-inch fish for customers. It’s going to take work. It’s going to take us 10 to 15 fish to find that 17-inch trout,” he says.

Ivey’s charter fishing business had just begun to rebound from a wave of COVID-related trip cancellations when the new fishing regulations went into effect.

Now, higher fuel prices have him charging more to help offset the cost of filling up his truck and boat.

“I used to charge $500 for two, $600 for three and $700 for four (people). Now I charge $600, $700 and $800. We had to go up,” Ivey said.

He says bait prices are higher too.

The fishing is still excellent for those willing to pay, especially fans of the hard-fighting red drum also known as redfish.

KSAT took a day trip with Capt. Ivey as part of “Gone Fishin’ with Mark Austin.”

Our two-man crew had fun catching at least seven redfish, keeping the maximum of three per person.

To book a trip with Justin, find ‘Ivey League Guide Service’ on Facebook or call 361-904-2425.

Read more fishing stories on KSAT.

About the Author:

News anchor Mark Austin celebrated his 25th year at KSAT in 2024. He can be seen weekdays on 'Good Morning San Antonio' and 'GMSA @ 9.' Mark graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University and then studied meteorology at Mississippi State University. Mark has won Lone Star Emmys for Best Newscast in 2011 and 2017.