The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has just announced that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has approved the 2012-13 Texas early migratory game bird seasons. As of now, it’s all good news. Dove hunters across the state will have a 70-day season with a 15-bird daily bag limit. The icing on the cake is that we’ll have a 16-day early teal season.
Dove seasons in the North and Central Zones will run from Saturday, Sept. 1, through Wednesday, Oct. 24. The late winter season will be open from Saturday, Dec. 22, through Sunday, Jan. 6.
The South Zone dove season runs from Friday, Sept. 21 through Sunday, Oct. 28. The winter season is Saturday, Dec. 22 through Tuesday, Jan. 22.
The Special White-Winged Dove Area will be restricted to afternoon-only (noon to sunset) hunting the first two full weekends in September running Sept. 1-2 and 8-9 and reopening when the regular South Zone season begins Friday, Sept. 21, and running through Sunday, Oct. 28, and again from Saturday, Dec. 22, through Friday, Jan. 18. The Special White-Winged Dove Area season takes four of the allowable 70 days, so when the regular season opens, this area must close four days earlier than the rest of the South Zone. During the early two weekends, the daily bag limit is 15 birds, to include not more than four mourning doves and two white-tipped doves. Once the general season opens, the bag limit will be 15 with no more than two white-tipped doves.
The early teal season will run Sept. 15-30 statewide with a daily bag limit of four teal.
The September teal season should be excellent thanks to record numbers of teal. Both blue and green-winged teal are up significantly from last year, according to the most recent survey from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Blue-winged teal are estimated at 9.2 million and green-winged teal number more than 3.4 million.
Southeast Texas fishing report
Sabine Lake and jetties – The water temperature on Sabine Lake is 84 degrees and 85 in the surf. Fishing is best under the birds throughout the day, but most reliable during the last two hours of sunlight. Rat-tail Assassins in bone or chartreuse are best when rigged on a 1/4-ounce jig head. Reds are good on the flats of Coffee Ground Cove with a Super Spook Jr. in bone or red/bone. Live shrimp are excellent at the jetties when free-lined or fished under a slip cork along the Louisiana side of the east jetty.
Lake Calcasieu – Guide Buddy Oaks at Hackberry Rod and Gun Club reports that the rain continued during the first part of the week, but as the weather cleared up, the fishing turned on. He reported that limits of speckled trout and redfish found their way back to the cleaning tables. Live shrimp have been best. But glow/chartreuse Hackberry Hustlers and TTF killer minnows are taking fair numbers of trout when fished over oyster reefs. When the weather allows, solid trout are coming from the short rigs just off the beachfront.
Sam Rayburn – Guide Bill Fondren says the lake is in great shape. The surface water temperature is 86 degrees, and the lake level is a foot and half low. Largemouth bass are best on Stanley Ribbits, white/chartreuse spinnerbaits, shad colored cranks and soft plastics. Crappie are best on live minnows fished over brush in 19 to 23 feet of water. Channel catfish are excellent over baited holes with stink baits, and good on trotlines with live perch.
Toledo Bend – The lake is in good shape overall, with a surface water temperature of 86 degrees. The lake level is about 3 feet low. Stripers are slow at the dam. Crappie are best on live shiners over baited holes. Channel and blue catfish are good on trotlines baited with fresh cut perch, stink bait and shrimp fished 25–30 feet deep. Bass are good early and late on spinnerbaits and cranks fished along the shoreline in 4 to 7 feet of water.
Chronic wasting disease in West Texas mule deer
Samples from two mule deer recently taken in far West Texas have been confirmed positive for chronic wasting disease, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. These are the first cases of CWD detected in Texas deer. Wildlife officials believe the event is currently isolated in a remote part of the state near the New Mexico border.
Biologists and veterinarians collected samples from 31 mule deer as part of a CWD surveillance plan designed to determine the geographic extent of New Mexico’s findings. Both infected deer were taken from the Hueco Mountains of northern El Paso and Hudspeth counties.
CWD is a member of the group of diseases called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). CWD is a progressive, fatal disease that commonly results in altered behavior as a result of microscopic changes made to the brain of affected animals. An animal may carry the disease for years without outward indication, but in the latter stages, signs may include listlessness, lowering of the head, weight loss, repetitive walking in set patterns, and a lack of responsiveness. CWD is not known to affect humans.
Robert Sloan can be reached by e-mail at sloan288 [at] aol [dot] com.