It’s time for fishing, hiking and paddling in Southeast Texas

It’s time for fishing, hiking and paddling in Southeast Texas

The warming trend we’ve had the past couple of days has set the stage for some fun outdoors that includes fishing, paddling and, of course, hiking.

The water temperature on Sabine Lake was down into the upper 40s last week but has rebounded to the mid-50s this week. Even with warming water, fishing has been very hit and miss all over Sabine Lake. With all the muddy water in the lake, the key has been to look for mullet. Don’t forget the basics for winter trout fishing – find the baitfish and you’ll find trout and reds. That sounds simple, but it’s a task on many winter days.

On the north end of Sabine, trout and redfish are fair while drifting mud and shell and fishing slow-sinking mullet imitation plugs. Waders have taken the heaviest trout on the Louisiana shoreline while fishing slow sinking Egret Kick-A Mullet plugs in white/chartreuse or red/white, according to angler Ken Chaumont. He’s been wading the incoming tide along the Louisiana shoreline in 3 to 4 feet of water.

In Sabine Pass, redfish are fair on the edge of the channel on live and fresh cut mullet. Sheepshead and black drum are good along the east jetty on live shrimp fished under floats in 4 to 8 feet of water.

Lots of waders have been finding trout along the south shoreline of East Galveston Bay on slow sinking Corkys and Catch 2000 lures. Boat fishermen are doing best by fishing pods of shad and mullet over shell on the lower end of the bay. The first couple of days after a cold front, trout have been fair on the north shoreline on Corkys and MirrOlures.

On the freshwater scene, Sam Rayburn guide Bill Fondren reports that white bass are just now beginning to show up on the Angelina and Sabine rivers in numbers. He’s running guided trips on both rivers and can be contacted at (409) 381-1397.

“The water level on both rivers is just now beginning to go down,” said Fondren. “The rain we got last week has set the stage for one of the best runs of white bass in the past few years.”

On Sam Rayburn, the water is just off color and holding at 60-64 degrees. It’s about 3.51 feet low. Largemouth bass are good on watermelon soft plastics and Rat-L-Traps. Crappie are fair on minnows and blue tube jigs. Catfish are good on frozen shrimp and stinkbaits.

On Toledo Bend, the water is lightly stained, about 62 degrees and 2.01 feet low. Bass are fair on watermelon and chartreuse spinnerbaits and crankbaits. Crappie are good on minnows and chartreuse tube jigs over brush piles in 15 to 18 feet of water. Channel and blue catfish are very good on small pieces of fresh cut perch.

The First Day Hikes Program set up by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department drew 1,100 Visitors to Texas State Parks, according to TPWD’s Karen Blizzard.

“For the second consecutive year, hundreds of Texans showed up at state parks across Texas to participate in the First Day Hikes Program, part of a nationwide effort to encourage people to get outdoors for healthier lifestyles on the New Year’s Day holiday,” said Blizzard.

Fifty-seven state park locations offered a guided hike led by a park ranger or experienced park volunteer. Visitors braved the cold and rainy conditions that gripped much of Texas on Jan. 1, participating in a variety of nature hikes, ranging in length and degree of difficulty, from mountainous treks to birding boardwalks through wetlands.

“First Day Hikes is something we want folks to embrace as a tradition for years to come,” said Blizzard, assistant director of park interpretive services and the Texas coordinator for the national First Day Hikes program. “Hiking is a great way to see and enjoy the outdoors, and also a fun way for families to be together and stay fit.”

Nationally, some 22,000 folks chose to ring in the New Year at more than 720 hikes, totaling more than 43,000 miles in all 50 state park systems.

The Southeast Texas canoe and kayak club (Kayak [at] outdoorstudies [dot] com) is looking for paddlers to explore Caddo Lake. The winter months with low weeds are a great time to explore this lake.

TPWD is launching over 50 miles of new paddling trails at Caddo Lake and Big Cypress Bayou.

On Feb. 2, as part of World Wetlands Day, TPWD and local community partners will launch 10 new trails along Big Cypress Bayou and Caddo Lake that range from 2.4 miles to 8.8 miles in length. You can get in on the action at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 2, at Caddo Lake State Park for the ribbon cutting and trail dedication (weather permitting).

Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center will have their 2013 Community Trash-Off on Saturday, Feb. 9, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Orange Lions Park. Over the last 17 years they have collected over 100,000 pounds of trash.

“We would love to have representation from everybody, including club teams, to help us pick up litter and keep our community looking beautiful,” said Kaycee Dortch. “We are especially seeking volunteers who are willing to bring their small boats and help clean up Adams Bayou. Boats can be launched from Orange Lions Park or Sprad’s; just keep in mind there is no formal launch at the park. Please consider this as an option when deciding where you and your team would like to volunteer. Teams are limited to five members, but if you can create multiple teams, that would be even better. Even if you don’t have a team, please join us on Saturday, and we will assign you to a team when you arrive.”

After working hard to clean up Orange, all Trash-Off Volunteers will return to Orange Lions Park to enjoy a free pizza lunch and prizes that have been donated by local businesses.

For more information, call (409) 670-0803, or e-mail kdortch [at] shangrilagardens [dot] org.