Last October we launched our Dirty 30 Citation program. Semi uncertain as to the participation across the fisheries, we were pleased and appreciative of all the love it received. Now almost a year later, we’re putting the finishing touches on making this program bigger and better. However, before we look ahead to 2018-2019, I’d like to examine some of the data and theorize on a macro level what we’ve found during the program’s inaugural year.
In 2017-2018, there were 57 official entries into the citation program. With a data set that spanned 365 days, my intent was to determine trends for “seasonal harvest” “method of harvest” “location of harvest” and catch and release and theorize any and all correlations supported through data analysis. So without further delay let’s proceed.
In full transparency, I personally theorized that most trout 30 inches or larger would be caught during the coldest months of the year. Personal experience, along with a myriad of articles, Television personalities and social media profiles steered me to that conclusion. As a result, I broke down the entries into “seasons of harvest” to see if there was any fidelity to my initial notion. Fall ranged from Oct – Dec, Winter, Jan – Mar, Spring, Apr – Jul, and Summer, Jul – Sep. Looking at the official list, it was surprisingly even across the board. Fall had a total of 14, Winter did have the most with 16, Spring had the lowest at 12, and Summer had a surprising 15 fish entered. The month(s) with the most entries were December and June with 10 total entries a piece.
In addition to seasons of harvest, I asked each participant to provide me the lure or method of choice (Live or artificial). 40 of the 57 trout were caught on artificial lures, but even more telling was the method of harvest per time of year. Of the 14 fish harvested in the fall, 13 were caught of artificial, of the 17 caught in winter, 14 were caught on arty’s. Spring was split 6 and 6 and summer had 1 more fish caught on live bait than its plastic counterpart (8/7).
Location of harvest, as you would imagine, would either be Florida or Texas and the overwhelming majority were from either of those states. Other states represented were North Carolina with 2 and Nick Creamer held it down for Alabama with the only Dirty 30 in the Heart of Dixie. Florida registered 9 Dirty 30’s, the majority coming from the East Coast. While Texas anglers registered 45 citations that ranged from the upper coast all the way to the lower Laguna Madre. Having said all that, I ask you as you read this, to keep in mind that this program is only as big as the reach of Speckled Truth. With it being such a young program and Speckled Truth as a brand having pockets of reach across the fisheries, it can skew the data to a certain state or area. As you would suspect, our biggest following is in Texas but as we and the program continues to grow I can only hope to see more participation from all states, but I’ll leave that to each of you to spread the word! (hint/hint)
The last item worth noting was the catch and release ratio. Of the 57 fish entered, 42 were released to fight another day. Aside from a fundamental shift in mindset to conservation this data hopefully proves that there is a great appreciation and respect for fish this size. Keeping that in mind, it is worth noting the correlation between method of harvest and catch and release ratio. Of the 17 that were harvested with Live Bait, 8 were not released – 47%. Of the 40 that were harvested via artificials, 7 were not released – 17.5%. Well aware that this is a sensitive topic, I’m purposefully choosing not to offer any insight. Instead, I’d like to encourage all anglers to be responsible with our resource. If a fish is clearly not going to live, keep it. If she is good to go, please consider releasing her to fight another day. I’ve always said it’s about “Self Disciplined Conservation” – take what you need, release the rest! Now that I’m off my soap box, let’s tie some of the data together.
Despite being such a small data set it offers some uncharted insight into understanding these big fish. As an artificial only community with a passion for these trophy fish, my aforementioned thought about colder months tends to hold true. Of the 30 trout registered between Oct and Mar, 3 were harvested using Live Bait. With live bait fisherman and bait in general leaving the scene this means the artificial only angler has a higher percentage of catching that coveted Dirty 30. Another item to examine is the number of trout registered each month. Fall, for example, had 2 trout a piece entered in Oct and Nov, but Dec had 10 total registered. Theories of water temperature decline/incline may prove this is a valid speculation. Jan and Feb also saw decent numbers (Jan – 5; Feb – 3) but another spike in March, 8 total, may validate something about higher swings in water temp could activate feeding behavior. Moon phase, sulunar activity among many other factors also play a big role but with such a small data set it’s to hard to tell. The only thing we can do is keep growing the data set and the only way to do that is keep growing the program.
So as we anticipate a new Dirty 30 citation year please know the foundation started this year and it could not have happened without your support. Anticipate an article with updates on the 2018-2019 program in the next few days and we look forward to making it bigger and better!
Tight lines and God Bless!