Fishermen Speak Out About Trout Limit Proposal

Many fishermen are complaining about a proposal to change the limits on speckled trout.

The Commission on Marine Resources is considering a plan to lower the minimum size limit from the current 14 inches to 12 inches.

And that idea is creating quite a controversy around the coast's most popular game fish.

Biloxi fisherman, Jason Wold, had little luck on Labor Day. Not a single speckled trout. But his experience on the water shows the trout stock has improved since the 14 inch minimum was put in place back in 1996.

"I think so. Every trout I catch, it tends to be 16 or 18 inches. So, I've seen a difference," said Wold.

The president of the Biloxi Coastal Conservation Association says lowering the limit makes no sense. He says coast fishermen are catching bigger trout since the rule took effect eight years ago.

"Everything has increased since we went to the 14 inches. The quality of fish we're catching here is so much better than it was 12 or 13 years ago," said Randall Broussard.

Some supporters of lowering the size limit might point to the fact that neighboring Louisiana already has a 12 inch trout limit. But opponents would argue that's an unfair comparison, saying there is less fishing pressure in Louisiana, which has some three and a half million acres of water, compared to about a half million acres in Mississippi.

Fishermen have an opportunity to weigh in on the trout rules. The DMR is hosting three public hearings this week on rolling back the minimum.

"I think they ought to leave it like it is. Let them build back up. Once they get built back up, they'll be everywhere like they used to be," said fisherman Byron Kahl.

Most fishermen would no doubt prefer catching a trout, to arguing about minimum size limits.

The DMR will hold three public hearings on the issue, beginning Tuesday.

The first meeting will be held at six Tuesday evening at the Hancock County Civic Center. Wednesday night's hearing will be held at the Gautier Civic Center at six o'clock. And the final hearing will be held Thursday night at six, at the DMR Headquarters in Biloxi.