Reported effects of drought serious, inconsistent

 The latest report that I’ve received concerning the drought in the Texas Hill Country has been spotty, at best. The ranches that are in similar areas have different reports, at times. What seems to be the difference is that the ranches may be only a few miles apart and one has gotten a little rain while the other hasn’t. There is also the element of natural creeks or rivers and the presence of water tanks that are not dried up. No matter whether a ranch contains all of the water positives or none of them, it is super dry in the Hill Country. One of the game wardens that works the Hill Country relayed that, so far, there had not been a massive die-off of fawns. There will always be some that do not survive, but not an unusual number in that area yet. They were getting a rain shower as I spoke to the rancher and expecting more rain the next day. The opinion for that Llano area was so far, so good.

The other question is, what about the acorn crop? My reports are that the acorn crop is almost non-existent in most areas. There have been some really big acorn crops for a couple of years, but not this year. This will, of course, be a benefit to the hunters. The deer will need to move around more instead of just feeding in one small area.

The Rio Grande turkeys seem to be doing better than expected. As usual, that situation could change drastically should the drought become worse.

Nothing seems to bother the feral hogs. They will migrate to where there is water or mud and do just fine. The conclusion that was presented concerning all of the game animals is if there is a local water source, there has not been noticeable damage yet in those areas. Without water, things will be tough.

The summertime has long been a favorite time for many saltwater anglers. Yes, there was a great run of speckled trout in June. There will also be another great fishing time in October, but there is reason to believe that the action is also as hot as the weather during August and September. The main difference is that locating the fishing action might require more than hanging along shorelines or at least the shallows. By August, the speckled trout will likely be located more in the mid-lake or bay areas, at the jetty or at the short rigs just offshore.

Over in East Bay and in Trinity Bay, the speckled trout have definitely been more active over the mid-lake reefs than in other areas. There are a number of both natural and commercial oyster reefs in those bays. Besides that, there are a good number of gas wells in Trinity. Each of these has oyster shell at its base. That shell will be the place that small baitfish and shad will go to hide. The predator fish will be there to feed upon that bait.

Artificial lures are very popular for taking speckled trout, redfish and flounder. In fact, many of the guides will allow only fakes whenever they are taking clients fishing. The lead-head plastics have been the more popular lure types. These may be directly attached to the leader or main line, or they may be used beneath a float.

There are probably more anglers that will take along live shrimp or, in some cases, live croaker. The latter does take some practice to learn how to use correctly. They are a larger offering and the specks must have a chance to swallow them. On the other hand, the shrimp will be devoured when the fish strike. Simply set the hook after the strike and the battle begins.

Locating the speckled trout right now may be done by locating feeding seagulls. Certainly the gulls that are diving and squawking are over shrimp and thus the fish. There is also another method of locating the specks that will likely allow for more solitary fishing. The shiny oil slicks that are caused by fish feeding on the oily shad are dead giveaways. Whenever speckled trout are causing those slicks, there is a definite identifying smell. Most folks agree that the odor is of watermelon or fresh mown grass. The smaller they are, the fresher they are. Locating and fishing up tide from them will likely turn into a speck catching bonanza. This is the case on all of the inland saltwater bays and lakes and even into the surf.

If you enjoy catching some really solid specks and you can stand the heat, mid-day is sometimes the most productive time.