Find water, find bluewing teal

It does seem more like the beginning of summer than the beginning of fall. There was an extended winter last year with very little springtime before the hot summer began. With a cold dry fall and a hot dry summer, many of the duck ponds have disappeared. With the bluewing teal already migrating into our area, the folks that have water will have teal. There are supposedly record numbers of these little ducks coming this year, but if there is a lack of water for them to use, they will move on farther to the south more quickly than normal.

The early teal season will open locally on Saturday, Sept. 10, and continue through Sunday Sept. 25. As always, the daily bag limit is four birds per hunter. A Texas hunting license and both Texas and federal waterfowl stamps are required.

Teal hunters should keep in mind that both snakes and alligators are still active. Either or both of these critters could cause a fun hunt to become not so much fun. There are several species of snakes that inhabit our marshes and rice fields, the cottonmouth water moccasin being the main one to stay away from. There are places around the rice fields where there have been case of rattlesnakes and copperheads, but the norm are the cottonmouths. All three of these species are poisonous and should be avoided if possible.

Alligators normally do not enjoy being around people. That is the case unless some well meaning folks have been feeding them. In such cases, the ’gators will become too friendly and spend time near what they feel is a food source. It is always best to leave the alligators alone, but their constant search for food may cause a problem for hunters. That’s especially the case when there has been no cold weather to put them into their semi-migration mode. Should you have your retriever, along there is the possibility that it may be injured or killed by a alligator. Most folks choose to leave the retriever at home until there has been a cold front or two.

Don’t overlook the great possibility that mosquitoes and or deer flies could be around in great numbers. By taking along some repellant or a Thermacell unit, those pests will not be a real problem. Whenever you pack your repellent, don’t forget to take along plenty of water to drink. Although teal hunts normally don’t require lengthy stays in the blind, it is still prudent to go prepared.

The recent rains that were welcome locally will have no effect on areas farther to the west. Even so, they were welcome and saltwater fishing is continuing to be good. Most of the anglers as well as outfitters and guides canceled their trips this past weekend due to wind and the rain. The redfish and also the speckled trout are really turning on in both the inland lakes and bays. The jetty action has also been good. When the winds are not too strong, there are some specks and reds taking topwaters in the surf.

Most of the inland fish catching has been out over the reefs. This situation has been the case for several weeks. In East Bay, the better action has been over the reefs but not on the bottom. By using noise making floats with either lead-head jigs or live shrimp about 4 feet under them, the fish will be easier to locate. Some folks prefer to drift across the reefs while others will either anchor or use an electric troll motor to move around.

Both Lake Sabine and Big Lake in Louisiana have been yielding fish about the same as the other inland bays. The difference seems to be that at times there is some bird action on Lake Sabine. It only takes a single seagull feeding to show where there are also some feeding fish.

There are times when the redfish will surface in big schools. Whenever that happens, there is no need to locate gulls. There are also some shiny slicks on all the inland areas, but sometimes there are gaftopsails or hardhead catfish causing them.

The jetty and smooth surf action has been hot. The better fish seem to be taking lead-head jigs bounced near the bottom. There are some Spanish mackerel out there, also. I recommend using a 6 or 12-inch rubber coated steal leader.

Don’t’ overlook the surf or the short rigs. Whenever the winds allow, both are loaded with fish. The tripletails are also still around.

Tune in to KSET 1300 at 6 p.m. on Thursdays for Billy Halfin Outdoors and listen to the updates daily at 7:25 a.m., 12:25 p.m. and 6:25 p.m.