Redfish are best on Sabine Lake

The Central Zone dove opener was excellent.

The Sept. 1 Central Zone dove season opener was about as good as it gets on fields west of Beaumont, according to guide Jim West.

“We had a real good mix of whitewings and mourning doves,” says West. “The day before the opener, I was a little bit worried that the fields would be too wet. But we ended up with good hunts. My best hunts are on rice fields just south of Nome. We’ve had mourning doves early, then whitewings started coming in groups of 50 to 100.”

West is only going to be running hunts two or three days a week so as not to pressure the birds into leaving.

“The way it is now, they are moving around a good bit on select fields,” says West. “Even the muddy fields are holding good numbers of birds.”

For more information on dove hunts, can call Jim West at (409) 996-3054.

Don’t forget that the early teal season is Sept. 10-25. Also, the early Canada goose season is Sept. 10-25, as well. The South Zone dove season opens on Friday Sept. 23.

Sabine Lake is still pumping out good numbers of reds, according to guide Jerry Norris.

“We’re mainly looking for small schools of reds running shad on the surface,” he says. “The water is starting to look a lot better. We’re catching most of the reds on red/shad or limetreuse Assassins.

Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest is heading to Sam Rayburn

Bassmaster has added a new stop on the circuit, the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest for 2017. The event, which will replace and build upon Toyota Texas Bass Classic’s decade-long legacy, is scheduled for May 17-21 on Sam Rayburn Reservoir, one of the hottest big-bass lakes in the United States.

“Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest will combine the best features of the Toyota Texas Bass Classic and our own BASSfest tournament — both of which have become immensely popular among anglers and fishing fans,” said B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin. “Texas Fest will host a special Fan Appreciation Day offering anglers and their families opportunities to meet, greet and learn from the world’s best professional anglers.”

The Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest will emphasize best practices in fishing conservation, including a catch, weigh and immediate release format. The event will also continue to benefit the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, which has been instrumental in introducing fishing conservation guidelines that have influenced fishing tournaments throughout the United States.

Another feature carried over from the Toyota Texas Bass Classic is the big bass award: a Toyota Tundra. Anglers will like knowing that at any point in the event, they are one cast away from winning a $50,000 truck.

Lake Conroe and Toledo Bend will get in on the big tourney action as well. The “Super Bowl of Bass Fishing” is March 24-26 at Lake Conroe. Weigh-ins will be held in Houston’s Minute Maid Park.

Once the Classic is done, the Elite Series schedule will resume April 6-9 with a return trip to Toledo Bend. Superstar pro Kevin VanDam won there in May of this year; it was the first of his three victories so far on the 2016 Elite Series circuit. Toledo Bend is currently ranked as America’s No. 1 bass lake for the second year in a row, according to Bassmaster Magazine’s 100 Best Bass Lakes list.

Sabine River bass regs

Beginning Sept. 1, Southeast Texas anglers will be able to keep largemouth bass measuring 12 inches or greater. Previously only largemouth bass 14 inches or greater were legal to harvest. The daily bag limit will remain at five fish and at eight fish for the Sabine River. This new rule will be applied to the Sabine River in Newton and Orange counties, and in Chambers, Jefferson, and Orange counties.

Local civic leaders and sportsman frustrated over the “one size fits all” regulation for largemouth bass suggested this change. Rep. Dade Phelan filed and passed HB 1979 out of committee and onto the floor for a vote. At that point, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department offered to perform a detailed scientific analysis of the waters in Southeast Texas in lieu of legislation and committed to the new rule if the results justified modification. Their examination concluded that 12 inches is the appropriate size for harvesting largemouth bass for this area.

“I want to thank Texas Parks and Wildlife for their diligent efforts in ensuring the study was a fair and open process. One that considered not only the data but public opinion as well,” Rep. Phelan said. “This was an idea brought to me by John Gothia, Ida Schossow and other leaders in our community. It was an honor to work with them to make a positive impact on local fishing regulations.”

Fishing reels in 46 million anglers in 2015

Fishing remains among the most popular outdoor activities for adults, according to the 2016 Special Report on Fishing released by the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation. The report found that 45.7 million Americans participated in fishing.

The report details fishing participation by gender, age, ethnicity, income, education and geography. Some of the findings show that:

• 44 percent of new participants are youth ages 6-17; 46 percent are female

• Fishing is the second most popular outdoor activity for adults ages 25-plus, behind running/jogging/trail running.

• Freshwater fishing remains the most popular type of fishing – almost 38 million people – and also had the highest rates of female (34.4 percent) and youth participants (33 percent).

• Almost 83 percent of participants fished as a child, making youth participation a powerful motivator for future participation.

• The number of Hispanic fishing participants increased in 2015 to 3.4 million.