Water Wednesday – Would You Believe Tarpon at Every Pass?

| June 5, 2013 | 0 Comments

Imagine a day when the Texas Gulf Coast was teeming with tarpon. History, not legend, has it that that is how it used to be along the Texas Gulf Coast. I was mournfully reminded of that fact just today as I prepared the Water Wednesday report for Wednesday, June 5.

HOUSTON CHRONICLE – Shannon Tompkins
In an article by Shannon Tompkins in today’s (Sunday June 2, 2013) Houston Chronicle (http://bit.ly/13wG7Ro), he provides a historic document of tarpon fishing at the mouth of the Rio Grande River, where it now trickles into the Gulf of Mexico, along with a tragic current day description of what that experience was like for him. Tompkins blends an historic account of the Rio Grande tarpon action with his current day visit to the desolate, and decimated mouth of a once flourishing ecosystem. The historic account he quotes from Hart Stilwell’s “Fishing in Mexico – Rio Grande,” printed in 1948.

Stilwell talks of a time when tarpon where at the mouth of the Rio Grande to be caught – all the way up into the Rio Grande River. Imagine that.

Tompkins present day accounting is of TPWD patrol boats removing gill nets with a paltry catch of striped mullet and nothing else. This ecosystem isn’t crashed, it’s crashed and burned. I think we can safely say the Rio Grande tarpon (and snook and redfish) fishery is gone forever – or until humans are again extinct.

HOWEVER, we can do something now to save the other rivers that feed the Texas Gulf Coast. We have to do something now because plans are afoot to stop more and more water from reaching the Gulf. These plans come from the top, and they are supported by a majority of Texans that would rather consume than conserve water.

I hate to skip around from my mouth (last week’s Water Wednesday story), to the mouth of a river I saw flow huge as a child – the Rio Grande, but sometimes sparks like Shannon Tompkins’ story in the Houston Chronicle light me up.

Rather than put this cart in front of the entire water horse, perhaps you can use it to stoke your unique flame, for the water campaigns that are about to come. I have no doubt we will be on the right side of this campaign – win or lose. The coming water campaign is not about a distant Pebble Mine. The Texas fly fisher’s water campaign is not about dammed rivers of the Pacific coast. No, this campaign will dwarf those by comparison. It will dwarf them in every measure – human, scientific and economic. We have to wake up first though.

George Santayana, in his Reason in Common Sense, The Life of Reason, Vol.1, wrote “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” For better or worse, I remember the past. What do you remember of the early days of fishing the Texas Gulf Coast?

You may recall, I let the CAT OUT OF THE BAG this past Monday, so there could be a pause in routine posts while I am away on a unpredicted adventure to Miami, Florida over the next few days. Fear not! Water Wednesdays will be on the agenda for quite a few years to come.

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Category: Texas Water Conservation

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I write. I photograph. I fish, and I live.

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