Reds running wild on Sabine Lake

Sabine Lake guide Colby Denbow and Phil Brannan with a pair of nice reds

Catching a daily limit of three slot reds on Sabine Lake is about as easy as it gets. Just look for the birds that are holding over reds blasting shrimp and shad on the surface, and you are good to go.

“The action is best in the morning for about two hours right at daylight,” says guide Colby Denbow with Sabine Lake Lodge. “What I’ve been doing is leaving the dock just after dawn and looking for gulls that are dipping and diving over reds that are mostly slot-sized fish in the 25 to 28 inch range.”

Denbow has been using Down South soft plastics in glow with blue or chartreuse tails.

“The reds aren’t coming up in big schools,” he says. “Most of the time we’ll find three or four reds on the surface. The key is to get within casting distance and hold tight. As soon as they blast the surface, drop just about any lure you have on them. They will eat anything that won’t eat them.”

With the cooler weather moving in this week, trout and reds will be feeding on shrimp moving out the marsh and into the lake. That’s when we’ll have huge flocks of gulls holding over feeding fish. Remember that the smaller trout will be feeding near the surface. The heavier trout will usually be feeding closer to bottom.

Deer hunts looking better and better for the gun opener

Saturday, Nov. 5, is the general gun season opener on deer, and there is a special youth-only weekend season set for Oct. 29-30. The general season runs through Jan. 1, 2017, in North Texas and Jan. 15, 2017, in South Texas.

“It’s has been quite a while since I remember a time when we’ve experienced great back-to-back years of good rains across most if not all of the state,” says Alan Cain, TPWD whitetail deer program leader. “Because Texas is such a large state, we don’t always see good habitat conditions that stretch from Amarillo to Brownsville or El Paso to Houston, but 2016 has been an unusual year in that the vast majority of the state has received good rains and surprisingly, temperatures have remained relatively mild.”

Ideal weather conditions this year have helped produce a smorgasbord of lush green forbs and woody browse plants that make up the majority of a deer’s diet.

“These favorable range conditions will put deer in top body condition this year, and antler quality should be above average,” says Cain.

Unfortunately, in some parts of East Texas, too much rain this year may wash out much of the early archery season as traditional prime river-bottom hotspots may be tough to access.

“Those bottomland hardwood habitats along portions of major river drainages (Brazos, Trinity, Sabine, Colorado and Neches) that are still recovering from floodwaters will likely lack near-term browse and forb production, but acorn production can still make these productive places to hunt if hunters can access them,” says Cain.

Although good for the deer, ideal habitat conditions could make hunting tough during the archery season. Bowhunters might consider focusing their efforts along heavily traveled game trails or near acorn-producing trees.

Statistics show hunting is safer than golf

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise: Hunting with firearms is safe. In fact, hunting with firearms is one of the safest recreational activities in America. With hunting season in full swing across the country, The National Shooting Sports Foundation has compiled data that shows hunting ranks third in safety when compared to 28 other recreational pursuits, ranging from baseball to wrestling. Hunting with firearms has an injury rate of 0.05 percent, which equates to about 1 injury per 2,000 participants, a safety level bettered only by camping (.01 percent) and billiards (.02 percent). For comparison, golf has an injury rate of 0.16 percent (1 injury per 622 participants), while tackle football topped the list of activities with an injury rate of 5.27 percent (1 injury per 19 participants).

TPWD draws first of three winners for lifetime hunting, fishing license

There are two more chances to win an $1,800 Lifetime Super Combo license from Texas Parks and Wildlife. Two more drawings will be held Nov. 1 and Dec. 1.

Entries cost $5 each and may be added to yearly license purchases at retailers, by phone 800-895-4248 and online at There’s no limit on the number of entries that may be purchased.

Joanne Stirt is the first winner of the Lifetime License Drawing this fall. The Bandera outdoors enthusiast can start spending more time and money on her favorite pursuit each year—fishing.

Those who entered prior to the first drawing are still eligible. Proceeds from entries go toward TPWD conservation efforts to help keep hunting and fishing great in Texas.