Big bucks and big flounder

The 30th annual Los Cazadores deer contest is getting plenty of entries, with so

Deer hunting across much of Texas is better than expected with some pretty decent bucks being tagged, and the does that I’ve seen while deer hunting in East Texas and the Hill Country are in great shape. Also, we’re beginning to see more ducks settling into the Southeast Texas marsh and along the middle Texas coast.

But hunting is not the only game we’ve got going right now. Fishing for flounder is very good on Sabine Lake — if you know where to find them. Some of the best reports are from Sabine Pass where flounder are being caught along the Texas and Louisiana shorelines. Some of the best catches are along bulkheads and around the hulls of barges on the Texas side of the pass. Along the Louisiana shoreline, the points and small inlets are holding flounder up to about 6 pounds. Best baits are Berkley Gulps and Yum Money Minnows rigged on 1/8 ounce jig heads tipped with a dime-sized piece of shrimp.

The water temperature early this week was 67 degrees at the Sabine jetties and in the surf. Bull reds are very good in the surf and along the jetties on cracked crab and fresh cut mullet. The boat cuts along the Sabine jetties are holding good numbers of bull reds, along with slot reds, on outgoing tides.

Good news, bad news about fishing participation

A recent study by the American Sportfishing Association shows that fishing participation is growing in roughly one-third of all states. Between 2004 and 2013, 17 states saw angler numbers climb, while the rest experienced declines or remained steady.

The study found that:

• More people travel to the West to fish, with 29 percent of non-resident angling licenses sold.

• Anglers in the Northeast and Midwest are more likely to remain active, with more than 20 percent of anglers buying a license 5 out of 5 years.

• Regionally, the rate of not renewing fishing licenses is highest in the Southeast (53 percent) and lowest in the Midwest (28 percent).

Proposition 6 passes

Texas voters resoundingly approved Proposition 6, the Texas Right to Hunt, Fish and Harvest Amendment, in the recent general election. More than 80 percent of the ballots cast were in favor of the amendment recognizing the right of the people to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife subject to laws that promote wildlife conservation. Texas now joins 18 other states that have constitutional amendments providing for the right to hunt and fish.

“Sportsmen and women are the critical component in the conservation and enhancement of fish and wildlife resources, and this amendment confirms our ability to continue in that role for future generations,” said Robby Byers, executive director of CCA Texas.

Don’t forget to clean, drain and dry 

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is reminding waterfowl hunters on Sam Rayburn and Toledo Bend to clean, drain and dry before and after each trip to help avoid spreading invasive species like giant salvinia and zebra mussels. Unknowingly, waders, boats, trailers, even decoys can often harbor these invasive species, spread them to new places and destroy aquatic habitats.

“In Texas it is unlawful to possess or transport prohibited aquatic invasive species, dead or alive, anywhere in the state,” says TPWD’s Steve Lightfoot. “TPWD regulations also require boaters statewide to drain all water from their boat and on-board receptacles before leaving or approaching a public body of fresh water in order to prevent the transfer of invasive species. This regulation applies to all types and sizes of boats whether powered or not: personal watercraft, sailboats, kayaks/canoes or any other vessel used on public waters.”

Because waterfowlers use specialized gear, boats aren’t the only things on which invasive species can hitch a ride.

“That leaky decoy could be all a zebra mussel needs to get a foothold in a non-infested lake,” said Kevin Kraai, TPWD waterfowl program leader. “It’s best to check your decoys ahead of time and avoid putting out any leaky ones.”

Unless left out during the season, decoys are not in the water long enough for zebra mussel larvae to latch on to the exterior and grow to adult size. But zebra mussel larvae and plant fragments could be carried in the wet and humid interior. The good news: thoroughly draining and drying decoys destroys the invasive species.

Be mindful that with the cooler weather temperatures, duck hunters need to leave gear out to dry for longer periods to effectively kill invasive hitchhikers.

These three steps can prevent further spread of invasive species in Texas:

• Clean all boats, motors, trailers and equipment. Remove plants/vegetation, seeds, mud, mussels/snails and other material before leaving any water, trail or field access. Be sure to check your boots, dogs, decoys and vehicle.

• Drain all water from boats, floats, bilges and motors prior to leaving any water body. Remove drain plugs and open all water draining devices.

• Dry all gear and equipment completely before going to other waters or landings. Although bleach isn’t recommended for use on boat motors or other warrantied equipment, spraying felt-soled boots, decoys or other durable gear with a 10 percent bleach solution (rinse with water after 10 minutes) can help stop the spread of invasive species, as well as diseases.

 

Robert Sloan can be reached by e-mail at sloan288 [at] aol [dot] com.

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