Duck numbers increase big time in second split

Duck numbers increase big time in second split

So far, the second split of duck season has been much better than what we had during the first few weeks of November. Good numbers of gadwall, teal and pintails are being seen by hunters in flooded fields and in the marsh and backwater estuary lakes along the coast.

Hunters on the big reservoirs like Sam Rayburn and Toledo Bend are seeing good numbers of mallards and wood ducks. Jeff Simmons, a long-time duck hunter on Rayburn, says his last couple of hunts in the backs of coves have been exceptional. He says the birds are moving around a good bit, and the only way to stay on them is to be ready to move when you see them flying into one particular area.

A few days ago, I hunted with a couple of friends in the marsh along Matagorda Island, and we had easy six-bird limits that included pintails, redheads, teal and gadwall. On that particular morning, the sunrise was spectacular; ditto that for the numbers of ducks we had sailing in over the decoys. I don’t know how many of you have ever hunted on the middle Texas coast, but I can tell you from recent experience that the numbers of birds you’ll see is incredible. Redheads are there by the thousands and look like bats flying out of a cave. Some of the best hunting is along the islands of mangroves in the bays. But for a variety of birds, you’ll do best by running into the backwater lakes in an airboat. For details on hunting the middle coast, send me an email at sloan288 [at] aol [dot] com.

One particular hunting club near Matagorda reports that hunters there bagged 177 birds for an average of 5.9 ducks per gun last Saturday. For the weekend, 46 hunters bagged 251 birds for an average of 5.5 birds per gun. On the down side of that fabulous shooting is that most of those ducks were spoonies, with good numbers of teal mixed in.

Most reports I’m getting are that gadwall and pintails are abundant but tough to pin down on more than one hunt at a time. This is the first week of winter, and as additional cold fronts move through, more “quality birds” like pintails, gadwalls and widgeon will move down the Central Flyway and will likely set up good hunts through January. By the way, the North Zone is open through Jan. 31; the South Zone closes Jan. 24.

Warm weather sets up good trout fishing on Sabine Lake

Even though this is the first week of winter that by no means guarantees cold weather – after all, this is Southeast Texas. This week is a classic example of our winter weather – warm. But temperatures in the mid-70s through Christmas will set up some ideal fishing for big trout on Sabine Lake. During a warm spell like we’re having right now, the water temperature will bump up a few degrees, and that will definitely have trout on the move.

The best big trout lures this time of year are mullet imitation plugs. During the winter months trout feed primarily on mullet since that is the most abundant baitfish. A slow-sinking topwater plug like a Corky is a very good option. The go-to color pattern for that lure is a pearl/chartreuse back. However, black with a chartreuse tail can be a very good on Sabine Lake when the water is a little bit stained. Another good bait is the Mirrolure Catch 5. This is suspending twitch bait that’s 3-1/2 inches long. Some of the best color patterns are red head/white back, chartreuse/pearl belly and the fluorescent hot pink back with a chartreuse belly.

More often than not, the heaviest trout on Sabine will be caught on the upper end of the lake. Coffee Ground cove is a good place to fish. From there you can ease south along the Louisiana shoreline. The key is to look for jumping mullet.