Outdoors

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has already come out with the 2016-17 waterfowl hunting regulations. That might sound a little premature, since we just got through last season’s duck hunts, which were not nearly as good as expected. According to the latest data from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the USFWS, the reason duck hunts were so poor in Southeast Texas and other coastal regions of the state was due to an abundance of food in north Texas and farther up in the Central Flyway.

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Robert Sloan photo

My grandpa used to tell me that farming was a tough life, especially when it involved rain. He said a farmer had to pray for rain, then pray for rain to stop. I think that was pretty much the case last week with all the rain that fell on East and Southeast Texas. All that water has created havoc for fishermen on the Sabine and Angelina Rivers, not to mention the folks on Sam Rayburn and Toledo Bend, and as of now, Sabine Lake.

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This big diamondback water snake was among many spotted last week along a river

We were about the only boat on the Nueces River last Friday, March 4, and the white bass were plentiful and easy to catch. Everything seemed to be fine until I noticed something at the back of the boat. I looked over and about 3 feet of a 5-foot-long snake had slithered into the boat. Talk about a panic attack. There were two of us in a 17-foot, flat-bottomed boat, and there definitely was not any room left for a snake. I quickly whacked it with the tip of my fishing pole and it reversed direction and swam out of sight.

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Over the years, I’ve had the good fortune to do quite a bit of camping from Africa to South America. Some were memorable; others I want to forget. One of the best was on the Kanektok River in Alaska. That was a fly-fishing float trip along a river that provided some outstanding drift fishing for huge rainbow trout. Among my worst camping trips was one in Mexico along the Pacific coast. While out surfing one day, we returned to find out that somebody had stolen our camp – as in tents, chairs, stoves, lanterns and more. Talk about a surprise.

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For the first time in over 80 years, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has approved a 90-day dove season in Texas for 2016-17. That means we’ll be getting an additional 20 days of hunting during the fall, plus we’ll get to keep 15 doves per day. Also, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is recommending a later opener for duck hunting, with a shorter break between splits for the North Duck Zone and a later overall season in the South Duck Zone. This is all part of the statewide hunting proclamation for Migratory Game Birds that is up for public comment.

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If ever there was a time that is drop dead perfect for chasing big trout, this is it. Afternoon highs in the upper ’70s with overnight lows in the mid-50s will set up warming tides on shallow flats that will definitely have wall-hog trout on the move and feeding on mullet.

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The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is considering new regulations that will affect hunting and fishing here in East and Southeast Texas counties. One of those regs is aimed at creating additional deer hunting opportunities in East Texas.

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The white bass run is getting stronger by the day on the Sabine and Angelina rivers with the falling water level and the clarity just about right, according to guide Bill Fondren. The boat ramps that were underwater last week are in the process of being cleaned up and by the middle of this week should be ready to use.

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One of the great things about wild pigs is that they can be hunted year round, day and night, and you can kill as many as you can haul away. Another good thing about pigs is that they are good to eat, and there seems to be an unlimited supply of them. 

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Reds are gamefish that will eat just about anything that won’t eat them first, which is why they are so much fun to take on artificial lures. You can catch redfish on the flats, backwater estuary lakes, in the surf, jetties and bayous, all of which we have here in Southeast Texas. One of the more unique things about reds is that regardless of their size, they will eat anything from an inch-long fly-fished streamer to a magnum-sized topwater plug.

But there are some lures that reds definitely like over other baits.

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