Cast-and-blast trips are good to go in Southeast Texas

Duck hunting has been better than expected for most hunters. During the first sp

With temperatures above normal for this time of year, both fishing and hunting are two very good options here in Southeast Texas. Duck hunting during the second split has been better than expected in the coastal marsh and on flooded fields. Fishing on the Sabine continues to be excellent for flounder, reds and trout for boaters and waders.

The second split of the North Zone duck season will open Saturday, Dec. 20. The season will remain open across Texas through Jan. 25. So far, fair numbers of mallards are being taken on lakes and rivers in the north zone. In fact, river hunts have been excellent for big-time numbers of teal. Along the coast, numbers of pintails are good over flooded fields and on coastal flats. One group of hunters I talked with took limits of gadwalls, teal and spooners while hunting the marsh off of East Galveston Bay.

Goose hunting has been very good for specks, but hit or miss for snows. Specklebelly geese are a blast to shoot — no pun intended. They decoy well, interact with calling and are very tasty. Some of the best hunts here in Southeast Texas are over flooded rice and plowed fields near China and Nome. Another good thing about specks is that you don’t have to put out a gazillion decoys to get their attention. A dozen or so speck decoys placed on a levy beside a spread of duck decoys, along with some good calling, will normally fool small groups of specks.

Flounder fishing is excellent in Sabine Pass. The small inlets along the Louisiana shoreline are holding fair numbers of flounder to 6 pounds. Fish the points on an outgoing tide with Yum Mud Minnow Curtail jigs in seasick disco or black/chartreuse color patterns. They can be rigged on 1/4-ounce Bomber Shad Head Jigs in chartreuse or white.

Team disqualified from BASS championship tournament

The second-place team in last week’s Bassmaster Team Championship on DeGray Lake, Arkansas, has been disqualified, according to Jon Stewart, tournament director for the event.

Stewart says the team of Brandon Gladish and Aaric Correll of Indiana was disqualified for violating Rule C7, which covers tackle and equipment.

The rule states, “Any umbrella-type rigging, harness or other device designed to hold more than one lure at a time — with or without hooks — is not allowed. Such rigging, harness or device cannot be added to a single lure as described above. Traditional twin-arm spinnerbaits or buzzbaits are allowed. Trailer hooks and plastic trailers must be on the main hook of the bait; only spinner blades can be affixed to the arms. The head on the main stem may be hinged. On these spinnerbaits or buzzbaits, no more than two wires, with a maximum length of 6 inches, may extend off the main arm or body of the lure. The ‘head and hook’ portion of the lure must trail behind the blade or blades. BASS officials have the sole authority to determine whether a lure is considered a single lure as defined above.”

Study finds steel shot just as good for dove

Texas leads the nation in dove hunting, with roughly a quarter million hunters bagging 5 million mourning doves each fall. Their success afield should not change with the type of shot used, according to the results of a just-released study examining the lethality of lead versus non-toxic shot for mourning dove.

The field collection phase of the study was conducted in Brown, Coleman and McCulloch counties during the 2008 and 2009 Texas dove hunting seasons. After recording more than 5,000 shots fired by Texas hunters during the two-year project, and then necropsying 1,100 mourning dove, researchers determined no statistical significant difference in harvest efficiencies between the three loads tested, regardless of distance.

Non-toxic shot has been required for hunting waterfowl for more than two decades. Despite studies that have demonstrated the effectiveness of non-toxic shot for waterfowl and other game birds, the results of this study were not a foregone conclusion, at least not in the perceptions of dove hunters. Recent dove hunter surveys indicate that some hunters still believe non-toxic shot to be inferior to lead.

“Our findings address the efficiency of lead and non-toxic shot on mourning dove,” said Corey Mason, a TPWD wildlife biologist. “There continues to be a spirited national discussion on the use of lead and other types of shot and these results help inform one aspect of the conversation.”

TPWD officials believe the research findings may be useful to Texas hunters as they make decisions on the type of loads they choose for dove hunting.

“We absolutely believe in hunter choice and we also want hunters to be as informed as possible on matters affecting their outdoor pursuits,” said Carter Smith, TPWD Executive Director. “Dove are a shared international resource, and the question about whether or not lead shot should be banned for dove hunting is not something Texas is prepared to make independent of other jurisdictions and based solely on the findings of this study. This research offers an important data point in the larger discussion, but there are many other factors to consider.”

An internationally recognized shotgun ballistics expert, who has authored more than a dozen similar studies involving waterfowl and upland game birds, designed the study. The study examined three, 12-gauge, 2 3/4-inch loads designed and manufactured to mirror loads that are used most often by dove hunters. The different load types included: 1 1/8 ounce of No. 7 1/2 lead shot, 1 ounce of No. 6 steel shot, and 1 ounce of No. 7 steel shot.

The cost of the study was approximately $500,000 and was funded with dedicated Migratory Game Bird and Texas White-winged Dove stamp revenue.