Outdoors

Joette Reger of Garden Gate

It is such a thrill each year to see the little buds come out on my Christmas cactus plants. Seems like they tease me for about three weeks before the buds turn into gorgeous blooms. What a seasonal decoration! Between blooming seasons, I keep them along with “expired” orchids on the tile floor under a piano. That way, it is hard to forget to give them watering every week or so until they surprise me with blooms again.

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Robert Sloan

The cold front that moved through Southeast Texas last weekend was a game changer that will set up some excellent deer hunting for the opener Nov. 4. Plus, it definitely moved a lot of ducks down the Central Flyway and into the coastal marshes and backwater lakes for the South Zone opener this weekend. And don’t forget about the fishing. The topwater bite on Sam Rayburn and Toledo Bend is going strong, and along the coast, black drum and bull reds are on a big run.

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The good news is that the teal season is open through Sept. 24, but the bad news is that most of the very popular public hunting areas in Southeast Texas are closed due to the wrath of Hurricane Harvey. But with a well-timed cool front last week and the full moon Sept. 6, we had a load of teal migrate down the Central Flyway and settle into flooded fields in this region of Texas.

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Being a Texas game warden is not all that easy and at times it can be downright grizzly with lives on the line. It involves extensive night work and dealing with scum of the earth that are most often carrying guns, liquored up and downright mean. I’ve rounded up some of the trials and tribulations that Texas wardens run into on a daily basis. Some are comical, while others are downright crazy.

Sam Rayburn Jet Ski without a driver

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This 3-pound bass ate a 12-inch worm fished at the base of the tree in the backg

With surface water temperatures on East Texas lakes holding steady in the mid to upper 80s, one thing is certain – bass are going to be feeding deep. Three of the best lures to catch deep bass are crankbaits, worms and jigs.

A few days ago I was fishing with Dennis Lala, who has been catching bass on Texas lakes for over 60 years.

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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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