Coast fishermen filled the DMR auditorium Thursday night for the final public hearing on a proposal to lower the minimum size limit for speckled trout.
The Commission on Marine Resources is considering rolling back the minimum size from 14 to 12 inches.
A show of hands in the auditorium showed a majority of the Biloxi crowd in favor of keeping the current limit. But both sides pleaded their positions.
Pete Umdenstock spoke on behalf of the Coastal Conservation Association.
"Speckled trout fishing in Mississippi is not broke. We're catching reasonable numbers of reasonably sized trout," he said.
Longtime Biloxi fisherman, Marvin Flowers, favors lowering the limit.
"Experience shows me that I'm killing more fish than I'm keeping. And if we could keep the 12 inch fish I'd get me ten or so of them and then I'd bottom fish for red fish or flounder or something. I would quit," he told the crowd.
Several fishermen sided with the scientists.
"We need to stick with a 14 inch trout and believe just what they said. Believe the biologists," urged Barry Delcambre.
Not only did the majority of the fishermen favor the current limit, several proposed making it more restrictive.
"I personally believe in increasing the limit to 15 inches. That would promote a rebound in the sea trout population as it has been seen in the example of the red fish," said Becky Brisland of Ocean Springs.
Some suggested other factors also affect the trout population.
Brian Gollot says weather and other conditions are involved.
"And I also know that Mother Nature has a lot to do with our resources. Sometimes we have good seasons for shrimp, oysters, crab. I think it's the same thing for speckled trout," he explained
"We can't control Mother Nature. That's going to happen and we can't do anything about it. But we can control some of the things we can control. The size of the fish we catch, the number of fish we catch," said D'Iberville's Glenn Ellis.
The Commission on Marine Resources will hear a report on the public hearings September 21st, then vote on the proposed change at its October meeting.