Reports roll in on hunting seasons

I have gotten so many reports — mostly good — this week that I might not be able to cover them all. There are a couple of hunting seasons now open and another coming along soon. Fishing has been good in some places and excellent in others. There has also been some news concerning the drought’s effect on wildlife.

It is the time of year to finalize your hunting places and dates and to sight in rifles. Hey, folks, it is the early fall in Southeast Texas and things are beginning to happen, so it’s time to get ready.

If you read this column in The Examiner last week, you’ll remember the flounder catching. Well, it is still going on, if you want to try your skills in the marshy channels with moving water. They are still striking both live bait and fakes. Be sure to try a small piece of fresh shrimp on your jig’s hook.

Speckled trout and redfish seem to be all across the lakes and bays. Certainly everyone who heads out will not score big, but most folks should have little trouble locating some fish. There are some large flocks of seagulls feeding over both speckled trout and redfish. Many of the specks are not Texas legal, but they are mostly legal for boaters with Louisiana saltwater fishing licenses who have launched in Louisiana. In my opinion, those slightly undersize specks are the better table fare. Keep in mind that they must be a least 15 inches long to be legal in Texas waters.

There are also seemingly endless numbers of redfish in the inland waters. In fact, when they surface while feeding on shrimp or shad, the water seems to turn red. Fall redfish have a beautiful golden reddish color. Once located, anglers need only to cast a lure or natural bait into the feeding frenzy, reel in their slack line, and be immediately ready to do battle.

There are lots of speckled trout and redfish hanging out at the Sabine Jetty, the Cameron Jetty in Louisiana and also the Bolivar Jetty. Add to those hot spots the short rigs off both Sabine and Cameron, La., when it’s smooth and clear, and anglers have a good choice of places to try.Should there not be feeding seagulls or surfacing feeding fish that are visible, then don’t hesitate to go to the oil slicks. These shiny areas are created by the oily bodies of the shad that are being eaten and regurgitated by the specks. The odor of fresh mown grass or watermelon will alert you to a nearby slick even if you haven’t yet seen it. Once you detect that odor then locate the slick and get ready for some fast action.There are some other fish that will also be present under the seagulls or under those slicks. Gaftopsail catfish will be what’s there. These fish fight very hard when hooked, but there will be some slick slime a good ways up your line. This makes these fish highly undesirable for many anglers to even bring aboard their boat. Some folks do not feel that they are worth the trouble of cleaning up afterward. There is some truth to that except the last part. I have found that when handled correctly, the gaftopsails offer some fine cuisine.

Since they do have a protective slime that covers their body, gaftopsails should be left iced in a separate cooler. Whenever you get them to your cleaning area, allow them to stay outside the cooler until that slime dries and disappears. No, they will not spoil in a short time. Once that slime has dried and comes off, the fish will easily filet as do scaled fish.

For frying, make a light mustard and water wash. Put the filets into that mixture for a few minutes, drain, pat dry, meal and deep fry. It is even OK to put mustard directly on the fish, but wipe off the access before mealing and the fish will be perfect. I use this method on most saltwater fish.

While I’m on the subject of fishing, don’t overlook the sand trout, sheepshead and the upcoming golden croaker run. The sandies are running larger this year and they are not yet considered game fish, and neither are the croaker. All of the above mentioned fish are plentiful, they are great on the table, and they have saved many fishing trips when other more sought after species were hard to come by. The youngsters especially enjoy catching them.

There has been considerable interest in the whitetail deer range conditions. The drought has created a lot of interest in the deer. What I have learned from several ranches in the Hill Country and some East Texas land managers is contrary to earlier reports from the experts. The areas are dry, but there is still some green forbs that the deer thrive on. The fawn surveys indicate that the die-off is about the same as in a normal rain year. That’s the situation except on high fenced ranches where there is no supplement water available. There have been some significant losses in these enclosures. Free ranging deer seem to be finding enough water to survive. The deer are hitting the corn feeders big time right now.

Fishing note: there are huge numbers of bull redfish at the Sabine Jetty and in the surf. The bruisers are in.w