Outdoors

The Fourth of July holiday weekend always sets the stage for a mega surge in boating here in Southeast Texas and, of course, the lakes and rivers of the Pineywoods. In fact, what makes the right side of Texas such a big draw for so many boaters are the many options. Along the coast we’ve got Sabine Lake, the Sabine jetties, Keith Lake, the surf and East Galveston Bay. In Beaumont, we’ve got the Neches River; in Lumberton, there is Village Creek; on the Texas-Louisiana border, there is the Sabine River. Farther inland is big Sam Rayburn and Toledo Bend.

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A new NOAA outlook shows that many coral reefs across around the world will likely be exposed to higher-than-normal sea temperatures for an unprecedented third year in a row, leading to increased bleaching – and with no signs of stopping.

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Building on more than 30 years of scientific studies, including numerous reports released in the last decade and in the aftermath of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster, NOAA today announced a proposal to expand Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary to protect additional critical Gulf of Mexico habitat.

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Big king mackerel like this one can be caught within a few miles off the Sabine

By the time we make it to the Fourth of July, you can bet your boat, motor and trailer that fishing on the lakes and along the coast is going to be red hot.

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A good number of reds are being caught along the Louisiana shoreline of Sabine L
Jeff Myers

Sabine guide Dickey Colburn reports that he’s catching some pretty good numbers of trout and reds on the upper end of the lake. Most of his fish are being caught on soft plastics fished under cork rigs. His best jigs have been Usual Suspects and Li’ Johns.

On the lower end of Sabine Lake, guide Colby Denbow reports good catches of trout and big reds at the jetties on Down South plastics in key lime.

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Hostas are a secret weapon for those of us with shady gardens. They come in crazy combination of shapes, textures and colors. You can look for them with a wide variety of leaf shapes, too – heart-shaped, oval, lance-shaped, round – and shiny, dull, smooth or textured. The colors vary from blue to bright green to yellow to red to whites.

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For the time being, the recreational red snapper season is closed in federal wat

The recreational red snapper fishing season is closed once again after a grueling nine days – most of which were too rough for many boats to go offshore. But we did get a huge break. Out of the goodness of their heart NOAA Fisheries extended the season an extra two days because of the lack of fishing opportunity we had due to Tropical Storm Colin. They are so nice, and so out of contact with the real world.

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photo by Robert Sloan

One thing is certain about boating – its unpredictable adventure on just about every trip out.

A Texas game warden got a call about a missing boat that was last seen on Lake Somerville. The boat’s occupants were already two hours late getting home. The wind was blowing over 30 miles an hour that day, and the waves were over 4 feet. The boaters got lucky. They were found. The high waves had caused the boat to take on water and sink, forcing the occupants to swim to shore. One of them was taken to the hospital for hypothermia, but they were otherwise OK.

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Photo by Buddy Oaks

Lots of speckled trout, reds and flounder are being caught on Sabine Lake, Keith Lake and Calcasieu on a variety of lures and live baits. The water temperature on Sabine Lake is about 79 degrees.

Some of the best action of the year for both reds and flounder is along the Louisiana shoreline of Sabine Lake. Guide Jerry Norris says he’s catching lots of flounder on Berkley Gulps in pink or white while working the mouths of bayous, and small inlets along the Louisiana shoreline.

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Robert Sloan photo

Just recently, NOAA Fisheries opted to give recreational anglers a nine-day red snapper season that left anglers along the entire Gulf Coast red in the face with frustration.

Based on the annual catch targets and accounting for the red snapper harvest in state waters outside the federal season, the federal season for the private angling component will be nine days, and the federal season for the federally permitted for-hire boats will be 46 days. The commercial red snapper season runs year-round using its privatized catch share system.

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