Outdoors

Fishing along the coast kicked into high gear this past weekend, with good numbers of trout, flounder and even king mackerel being caught.

One of the best fishing reports I’ve got is from Sabine Lake guide Jerry Norris. His top catches of trout, along with a few reds, have been around the rigs east of the jetties in 20 to 25 feet of water.

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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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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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Bruce Butler of Amarillo caught Toyota ShareLunker 565 from Lake Alan Henry on A

It’s been a tough few weeks for fishermen on Sabine Lake in the hunt for reds and trout. The water has been muddy enough to walk on, but the good news is that it’s finally beginning to clear up a little bit.

Guide Colby Denbow with Sabine Lake Lodge has been catching reds and trout on the lower end of the lake. He’s also catching a few flounder in the pass.

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Robert Sloan photos

Last weekend Rayburn Country, just north of Jasper, was at its very finest with plenty of sunshine, morning temperatures in the upper 40s and afternoon highs in the 70s. For many folks, it was a prime opportunity for a round of golf. For others it was a perfect day for bass and crappie fishing on big Sam Rayburn Lake.

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Buddy Oaks photo

Rayburn is good for bass and crappie. On Toledo Bend, catches of catfish on trotlines and jug lines are very good. The bass fishing there has been improving with fish up to six pounds being caught on jigs and Carolina rigged worms fished along shorelines in 3 to 5 feet of water.

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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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