Texas Oyster Forecast

Ben Nelson and Tracy Woody took me and seafood dealer Jim Gossen out on Galveston Bay to check their oyster leases yesterday. Jeri’s Seafood, named after Ben’s wife Jeri Nelson, owns around 800 acres of oyster leases in Galveston Bay. Tracy told me the recent cold snap had dropped the water temperature in the bay considerably and that the oysters had already begun to fatten.

Tracy threw a dredge overboard and we pulled a couple of test dredgings from the skiff to see what the oysters, the cultch and the new spat looked like. Ben and Tracy had dumped several barge loads of small river rock on their leases to give the spat something to stick to. We found a lot of oysters sticking to the little pieces of rock. There wasn’t as much new spat as the oystermen hoped to see. But the harvest size oysters we opened were surprisingly plumb.

Jim Gossen supervised the dredging operation and I opened a representative sampling of a dozen. I tried a few naked and I tried a few with the Crystal hot sauce that Jim Gossen happened to have in his pocket. Tracy had a few Bud Lights in the cooler, and although it isn’t my usual brand, I happily chugged a few to wash the oysters and hot sauce down. It was a nice little picnic–in the name of market research.

The verdict: The oysters in Galveston Bay look great. Too bad there aren’t very many of them, because the loss of oyster beds in Louisiana is going to put a lot of pressure of the Texas oyster fishery this season.

10 thoughts on “Texas Oyster Forecast

  1. Jeff W

    I am going to be heartbroken if Pappadeaux’s has to pass on selling the 4 bux/dozen platters.
    I ate a boatload last year.

  2. Red

    So, how far along in the recovery period from Ike are the beds? Is next year the year that everything is back to normal? (assuming no major hurricane(s) next year)

  3. Ribalding

    why the loss of oyster beds in Louisiana??

    Oh, no reason. Not like they had an OIL SPILL OR ANYTHING.

  4. robbwalsh Post author

    No word yet on the status of the East Bay public reefs silted over by Ike. These were closed and river rock was dumped to improve the bottom. There probably aren’t any market size oysters there yet–and won’t be until next season at the earliest. So total acreage of Galveston Bay will be way down.

    Matagorda Bay is expected to equal or surpass Galveston Bay oyster output this year.

  5. Cheflambo

    “Crystal hot sauce that Jim Gossen happened to have in his pocket” I suspect Jim carries hot sauce around like the rest of us carry our cell phones. Loving this!

    Thanks for the update, Robb. I knew we could count on you to bring us up to speed on this year’s possibilities, oyster-wise.

  6. Luise Smith

    All the best wishes for a great season. Wish I could eat shellfish

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