Cashing in with GOLD — Spoons

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Cashing in with GOLD — Spoons
Cashing in with GOLD — Spoons
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“Texas’ Most Comprehensive Outdoors Publication”
Journal
Deer Season Prep - Now | South Padre Spring Break
Texas Bass Clubs | Extended Season - Varmints
What was HOT at S.H.O.T. | Versatile Center Consoles
texasoutdoorsjournal.com Traveling Texans Fishing Broken Bow, OK | Time to Get Skinny
March 2015 / $3.99
coastal & lake forecasts | tide & solunar tables
FINANCING HOMES AND L AND
TEXAS OUTDOORS
“Texas’ Most Comprehensive Outdoors Publication”
Journal
For Hunters . . .
16 Just Hunting
—Tom Claycomb III
Varmint Hunting —Extended the Hunting Season
30Just Shooting
—Kerry O’Day
Varmint Hunting Time
Saltwater
For Anglers . . .
Freshwater
12 Cashing in with GOLD-Spoons- One lure that has endured decades of use and has caught millions of fish is a gold spoon. —Robert Sloan
38Guns N’ Stuff
—Harold Gunn
What was HOT at S.H.O.T 2015
40Preparing for Deer Season - Now!
Serious decisions combined with
some effort help to enhance the
chance at an outstanding buck.
—Bob Zaiglin
18Just Boating
—Nate Skinner
Bay Boats: Versatility in Big Open
Water
26 Saltwater Journal
—Mark Sosin
Determining Where to Fish
oastWatch – Danno Wise
C
32 Upper Forecast
34 Louisiana Forecast 58 Lower Forecast
60 Middle Forecast NMLS493828
Grow with us.
70Field Tips & Techniques—
Bill L. Olson & Danno Wise
Turkey Hunting Basics
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50 Spring Break on South Padre- Low boat traffic and active fish plus a variety of historic and natu-
ral attractions make this a diverse spring destination. —Danno Wise
10
Just Fishing
—Brian Hughes
Texas Bass Clubs
22Time to Get Skinny- Rock solid
advice bass anglers can take straight
to the bank during the spring of the
year. —Matt Williams
Lake Roundups — Pros Forecasts
28 Central – John Jefferson 44 East – Matt Williams 48 North – Brian Hughes
62 South - Danno Wise 64 West – TOJ Staff
64 High Plains – TOJ Staff
36
Bassology
—Matt Williams
Former State Record Holder Gets Hall of Fame Status
54Breaking the Mold in Broken
Bow, OK- In the foothills of the
Ouachita Mountains in southeast
Oklahoma lies a paradise of breath 66 Tackle Tips & Techniques
taking scenery and one of the finest
—Danno Wise
trout fisheries west of Arkansas.
Fishing Off-Colored Water
—Nate Skinner
For Everyone . . .
On the Cover . . .
6Editor’s Insight – Bill L. Olson
8 TOJ Notebook – TOJ Staff
67, 69, 71 Guides, Gear & Getaways
72 Outdoors Calendar
74 Fishing & Hunting Times
75 Subscription Information
“Feeding Frenzy”
march 2015
March 2015
By artist Donald Dunn. For more
information on “Feeding Frenzy” and
other works of art by Donald Dunn
visit www.donalddunnart.com, or call
(830) 583-0030.
TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
68 Tackle Tips & Techniques
—Danno Wise
Lures That Draw Strikes from Shallow Water
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Editor’s Insight
Bill L. Olson
INSPIRED INSIGHT
For 24 years this is typically the last column that is written and laid down. The reason
is fairly simply, I want to offer our readers a thought or idea of value for that particular
month. After having read and edited the stories submitted, and after having seen the
pages laid out, it isn’t too hard to be inspired. I can tell you I work with some of the
most talented and passionate individuals in the outdoor world.
As long time readers know many of our contributing editors have been with this
publication since it was conceived. The first issue of TEXAS OUTDOORS JOURNAL
was the October 1992 issue. Those contributing editors that have joined us along the
way did so after much scrutiny and discussion. There is a very high standard this team
has set to be a contributor to this magazine.
I consider our team of writers to be the best, and they have become friends as well—
and I mean good friends that can be called upon, and who I know will respond. That
provides a great deal of strength when we take our messages to our readers.
In recent years I have sought younger and equally passionate contributors. I want
our look and ideas to remain fresh, and not just the same old stories repeated time and
again. With that being said I also don’t want what we have collectedly learned to be lost
and not past on. As a team we share and learn from each other.
Then there is you — the person reading this column — our articles — this magazine.
You are a source of great inspiration.
Each year TOJ exhibits or participates in about 29 outdoor shows and events each
year. As the third month of this year arrives my travel schedule is starting to slow down
a bit. The first two months I have been at a show somewhere in the Lone Star State each
week and visited with thousands of readers and new readers.
Those of you that know us have been most gracious and complimentary. You
compliment our efforts in general terms as well as specifically. You name names of those
that inspire your outdoor interests and passions while also asking for more. To me that
is high praise I share with the entire TOJ Team.
Many of us are native born, others got here as quickly as they could, and there are
more on the way. While learning of where some have come from, we are quick to
enlighten the way things are done here in Texas, and of the opportunities available to
recreate outdoors.
I hear comments that represent maturity gained over years in the field and on the
water. Hunters tell of how they counted coup this past hunting season knowing they could
have taken a trophy less than what they already possess, but passed up that opportunity
to wait for another day.
Anglers go through a similar type of maturation process and that has been evident
for years on inland lakes with the success of catch-and-release. That same practice is
gaining an ever growing following on our coastal waters. It certainly has with big game
anglers offshore.
So to all I work with, and to those that read, listen, or watch what I do in the outdoor
world I say thank you — you truly inspire me. It is a passion we share and I hope you
will share our message to those within your circle of friends.
Until next month: Pursue all of your outdoor activities in a safe and ethical manner.
CAUTION: All technical data in this publication, especially for handloading, reflect the limited experience of individuals using specific
tools, products, equipment and components under specific conditions and circumstances not necessarily reported in the article and
over which Texas Outdoors Journal has no control. The data have not otherwise been tested or verified by Texas Outdoors Journal. Texas
Outdoors Journal, its agents, officers and employees accept no responsibility for the results obtained by persons using such data and
disclaim all liability for any consequential injuries or damages.
6
TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
“Texas’ Most Comprehensive
Outdoors Publication”
Publisher/Editor
CONSERVATION
EDUCATION
PROTECTING HUNTER’S RIGHTS
Bill L. Olson
Administrative Assistant
Adala Ruhge
Contributing Outdoors Editors
Tom Claycomb III
Harold Gunn
Brian Hughes
Mike Holmes
John Jefferson
Cody Koehler
Kerry O’Day
Billy Olson
Nate Skinner
Robert Sloan
Mark Sosin
Matt Williams
Danno Wise
Whitetail Deer Editor
Bob Zaiglin
Art/Production Editor
Sunni Gonzales
Advertising Sales
713/957-3997, 713/957-3996 (fax)
Subscription Information
Call 1-800-222-4TOJ (4865); In Houston,
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TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal (ISSN 1082-5940) is a publication of Texas Outdoors Journal, Inc. Editorial and
advertising offices are located at 1706 West Sam Houston
Parkway North, Houston TX 77043. Phone (713) 957-3997.
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TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal is published monthly. Photographs and manuscripts for publication consideration are
welcomed, but the publisher assumes no responsibility
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publication.
Copyright 2015 with all rights reserved. Reproduction or
use of editorial or graphic content in any manner without
permission is prohibited. Views expressed by TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal contributors do not necessarily express
the views of Texas Outdoors Journal, Inc. Publication of
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Volume 24, Number 3
march 2015
It’s who we are.
It’s what we do.
JOIN
Greatest Hunters Convention on the Planet™ January 7-10, 2016
For more information, go to www.bigggame.org
TOJ Notebook
Ducks Unlimited Celebrates More Than 5 Million Acres Conserved in USA
Ducks Unlimited has announce the
successful conservation of more than 5
million acres of vital waterfowl habitat
in the United States. It’s a conservation
milestone 30 years in the making.
In 1984, Ducks Unlimited launched
its U.S. habitat program, which was a
logical extension of DU’s longstanding
mission to conserve and enhance North
America’s most important wetlands to
waterfowl. Thanks to decades of abiding
by that single mission, Ducks Unlimited is
now the world’s largest and most effective
private, nonprofit waterfowl and wetlands
conservation organization. DU is able to
deliver its work through partnerships with
private individuals, landowners, agencies,
scientific communities and other entities.
Conserved acres are habitat Ducks Unlimited, with its thousands of partners, has
protected, restored, enhanced or managed
for waterfowl. DU considers habitat conserved if it is under an agreement that lasts
at least 10 years or is owned by a public
agency that assures its long-term dedication to wildlife. DU restores or enhances
habitat using direct management practices
such as improving water control and hydrology or establishing native vegetation.
Although DU often protects and restores
or enhances the same land multiple times,
those acres are only counted once.
“This monumental conservation
milestone would not have been possible
without the continued help and support
of our state and federal agency, corporate
and volunteer partners in the United
States, Canada and Mexico,” said DU CEO
Dale Hall. Continentally, more than 13
million acres have been conserved in the
United States, Canada and Mexico, thanks
to the contributions of Ducks Unlimited’s
millions of supporters.
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
Soars to Sixth Consecutive Year of
Record Membership
For the sixth year in a row, the Rocky
Mountain Elk Foundation surpassed
its record membership level from the
previous year, now totaling 205,249
members. “This growth indicates that
more and more conservation-minded
people recognize the good work that
RMEF is carrying out and want to be
a part of it,” said David Allen, RMEF
president and CEO. “We are grateful
to each of them for their support and
especially to our diligent volunteers who
work tirelessly conducting membership
drives, banquet activities and other
fundraising events.”
Capping its 30th year as a conservation
organization, RMEF’s membership is up
27 percent since its 20th anniversary
in 2004 and 57 percent since its 10th
anniversary in 1994. “Our goal has never
been to be the largest conservation
organization but it is of paramount
importance that we remain accountable
to our membership for our actions and
on-the-ground efforts,” added Allen.
“Looking at the bigger picture, we
appreciate hunters and recognize the role
they play in providing the lion’s share
of funding for North America’s wildlife
conservation efforts. In a nut shell,
Hunting Is Conservation and RMEF will
surge forward to the best of our ability in
carrying out our mission to ensure the
future of elk, elk country and our hunting
heritage.”
Deer Breeders, Privatizing
Wildlife Draw Criticism from Boone
& Crockett Club
Once a wild game animal, now a
product of commercialism and chemistry.
Today’s upward trend in deer and
elk breeding and shooting operations
is reaching critical mass, compromising
traditional hunting and conservation,
and fueling a strong new response from
America’s first conservation and hunter
advocacy organization, the Boone and
Crockett Club.The Club today published
Cover Art
Longer daylight hours and warmer temperatures have anglers
and fish eager for opportunities that await in the days and weeks
ahead. During the month when spring officially arrives there are
those days when winter is almost forgotten, water temperatures
along shallow shorelines and flats soar and speckled trout go
into a feeding frenzie.
Texas artist Donald Dunn has captured and painted a scene
entitled “Feeding Frenzy.” It embodies what everyone knows this
time of year — when trout are feeding, coastal anglers are fishing
hard to catch those specks. The best way to catch feeding fish is to
“match the hatch.” Specks feed on finger mullet so slow sinking
baits or topwater lures are offerings gamefish can’t resist. With
each passing day conditions improve and fishing gets better as
speckled trout go into a “Feeding Frenzy.”
For more information on “Feeding Frenzy” and other works
of art by Donald Dunn visit www.donalddunnart.com, or call
(830) 583-0030.
8
TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
“Feeding Frenzy”
march 2015
a new position statement outlining its
concerns.
“We encourage every hunter to read
this position in its entirety,” said Morrie
Stevens Sr., president of the Club. “The
core topic - privatizing a public resource
for individual profits - has the power to
change the foundations of hunting and its
historic ties to conservation. And crossing
the line from wildlife to agricultural
commodity represents a fundamental
shift in American culture. We think the
ramifications are worth considering
carefully.”
The position statement also addresses:
• Selective breeding , ar tificial
insemination, regimented feeding
and pharmaceutical drugs to achieve
unnaturally large antlers in deer and elk.
• Commercial values based on artificial
trophy size.
• Ethics of altering native wildlife and
then shooting these animals in escapeproof, fenced enclosures.
• Breeding operations’ potential for
transmitting diseases to wild herds.
• Risk of weakened public support for
hunting. In a democracy, hunting exists
only at the pleasure of voters. Hunting’s
public image matters more than ever.
To read the Boone and Crockett
Club’s full position statement, visit www.
boonecrockett.org.
Dallas Safari Club Convention
Goers Raise $1 Million in 1 Minute
Responding to a heartfelt appeal for
youth outdoor education, Dallas Safari
Club goers raised $1 million in about 60
seconds at the final dinner banquet to cap
off a record setting Convention.
The fast flurry of fundraising was a
highlight of the 2015 DSC convention
and expo, which wrapped up its annual
four-day run on January 18. Attendance
and conservation funding totals will take
several days to tally, but all signs on the
show’s final day were trending toward
new records. “It’s been a tremendous
convention, with sold-out banquets,
lively auctions and heavy traffic in the
expo hall,” said Ben Carter, DSC executive
director. “But everyone is buzzing about
the spontaneous $1 million outpouring
of support from DSC members who are
passionate about getting kids involved in
the outdoors and conservation.”
Following a brief but inspirational
ask from a banquet-hall stage, 10 people
from the audience stepped up and pledged
$100,000 each, said Carter.
Their cumulat ive donat ion is
march 2015
e a r m a r ke d t o s u p p o r t O u t d o o r
Adventures, a Texas-borne program that
introduces students and their parents
to a wide range of outdoor activities.
The curriculum is now being taught in
more than 170 secondary schools - many
of them public - across Texas and in a
growing number of other states.
DSC is a longtime sponsor of the
program, administered by the Dallas
Ecological Foundation.
First Successful Vaccine Against
“Mad Cow”-like Wasting Disease in
Deer
Researchers at New York University’s
Langone Medical Center and elsewhere
say that a vaccination they have developed
to fight a brain-based, wasting syndrome
among deer and other animals may
hold promise on two additional fronts:
Protecting U.S. livestock from contracting
the disease, and preventing similar brain
infections in humans. The study, was
published in Vaccine online Dec. 21,
2014, documents a scientific milestone:
The first successful vaccination of
deer against chronic wasting disease, a
fatal brain disorder caused by unusual
infectious proteins known as prions.
Prions propagate by converting otherwise
healthy proteins into a disease state.
“Now that we have found that
preventing prion infection is possible in
animals, it’s likely feasible in humans as
well,” says senior study investigator and
neurologist Thomas Wisniewski, MD, a
professor at NYU Langone.
CWD afflicts as much as 100 percent of
North America’s captive deer population,
as well as large numbers of other cervids
that populate the plains and forests of
the Northern Hemishpere, including
wild deer, elk, caribou and moose. There
is growing concern among scientists that
CWD could possibly spread to livestock
in the same regions, especially cattle, a
major life stream for the U.S. economy,
in much the same manner that bovine
spongiform encephalopathy, or Mad Cow
Disease, another prion-based infection,
spread through the United Kingdom
almost two decades ago. According to
Dr. Wisniewski and his research team,
if further vaccine experiments prove
successful, a relatively small number of
animals (as few as 10 percent) could be
inoculated to induce herd immunity, in
which disease transmission is essentially
stopped in a much larger group.
TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
9
Just FISHING | Brian Hughes
Texas Bass Clubs
At one time bass clubs in Texas numMany anglers join not for the competiclub is the boats. You see, most club tourbered well over 500 across the state. All
tion necessarily, but to meet other fishernaments use the team format. Two anglers
manner of bass clubs were represented.
men. One member told me he didn’t give
in one boat form a team. They compete
Company clubs where the membership
a hoot about tournaments as such, but he
against the other teams for the heaviest
was made up of the employees, municijoined a bass club because now he always
limit of bass on a given lake, in a given
palities with residents as their members,
has someone to fish with, And as he put
amount of time.
and so forth. The peak was probably in
it, “Between tournament practice sessions
Many clubs have a non-boater roster
the nineties, which was really the peak for
and actual tournament fishing, I go more
of anglers that are paired up with boat
bass fishing in general.
often now than I ever did!”
owners to fish the event. As a team they
Bass clubs today are a simple affair.
Speaking of meeting new people,
split entry fees, gas for the tow vehicle and
A group of fishermen get together on a
membership always has a certain amount
boat, hotel rooms if needed, and someset day or date each month. It may be
of turnover bringing fresh faces to the club
times even food and drinks. For an angler
the second Tuesday of the month or the
meetings. “Some of the people I met at the
without a boat this is one way to fish more
third Thursday or some such. The two
club have become good friends outside of
water than possible from the bank, and at
main functions of a bass club are generally
the fishing scene,” McWhorter said. “We
a very reasonable cost.
to hold a monthly tournament for the
may have dinners with our families, share
Bass clubs are also a great place for
members, and to share fishing fellowship.
vacations, or go to the movies.”
father and son/daughter to fish together
Many anglers want to test their skills in
Monthly meetings usually consist of
as a way of sharing the outdoors and
competition but are not prepared to jump
a roll call or sign-in, sometimes followed
spending quality time together. There is
into the big leagues, or even the minors.
by a prayer or pledge of allegiance, or
something about a peaceful day on the
Entry fees can also be an issue. The higher
not. Club business, old and new, will be
water that lends itself to discussion and
the payout for any given tournament
discussed. Motions will be made and
sincere sharing.
circuit, the higher the fees to enter. The
seconded, and tournament sites will be
For all the attractive benefits of bass
bass club is a place to compete at a local
selected, jokes will be told and lies will
club membership, the overall state of bass
level, with anglers of similar skill levels at
be swapped and everyone in general has
clubs in Texas has been in a bit of a funk
a reasonable price.
lately. Many clubs
Mike McWhor ter,
have ceased to exist,
president of the Forney
members either just
Bass Club says he joined
going their separate
a club to push him into
ways or consolidating
fishing new lakes. “I used
the remaining memto be stuck in a rut fishing
bers into another
Lake Tawakoni, which is a
club. Some clubs
great lake,” he confessed.
have gone from 100+
“But when I joined the
members in the salad
bass club I was forced
days, to only eight or
to go to go to new lakes
10 now. Less membecause the club tournabers means less comments are held at a differpetition and lower
ent lake each month.”
payouts. That in turn
I asked Mike for any
means lost interest
other benefits he has seen
and lost members.
from being a club memBass clubs must stop
ber, “Learning from other
the cycle, and reward
anglers,” he said. “Fishing
the average guy.
with different partners Bass Clubs in Texas are about like minded anglers getting together for the social as well
Ed Parten, vice
as friendly competitive aspects that goes with catching fish.
each year, or even each
president of the Texas
event, gives you a broad spectrum of ina good time. These meetings typically take
Association of Bass Clubs sees several reafluences to draw from. Every angler brings
place the week of the tournament. Any
sons for the decline, “I feel that the three
something different to the tournament
grievances, issues, suggestions or requests
main factors in play would be first, the
table, and each will fish a piece of water in
will be brought up, voted on if need be,
cost of bass boats. At $70,000 and more, it
a different way. Seeing that gives me more
and settled before the next event.
is getting entirely too expensive for many
techniques to work with.”
Another good reason to join a bass
average families to afford. Also, gas was a
10
TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
march 2015
Bass Clubs in Texas come in all sizes and skill levels. Some fish a particular lake or region of the
state while others travel and fish some of the best waters available.
factor for a long time. It has come down
a bit, but for how long?
Additionally, many club fishermen
now would rather fish for bigger prizes
on bigger circuits. The days of fishing for
a trophy and braggin’ rights are behind
us I’m afraid. And finally the media focus
is all on the big sticks, the KVDs. Not
much press is devoted to the local scene
anymore.”
But he sees hope in the future, “I believe anglers are looking for tournaments
in which they and their club can be competitive. And they want to travel less, and
fish more locally”
Some wonder if we’ve lost the younger
generation to video games and social
media. Not Monte Reagan at Fun N Sun
Boats in Hurst, “Technology may actually
revive bass clubs. Between Facebook,
Twitter and Youtube, anglers can “share
the catch” faster than ever before. Gone are
the days of snapping a photo and waiting a
week for the pictures to come back to the
store. Now kids can snap a pic and have it
online before they get back to the ramp,”
Reagan said.
Furthermore, he believes that this is
exactly the kind of grass roots movement
it will take to revive the bass club scene in
our state. “We need the kids of today as the
fishermen of tomorrow,” he stated. “We
need the hard working average guy back
in the boat. We need to see attention paid
to him by the companies that profit from
his dollar. It’s time for these companies to
take a little time and money from the big
tournament circuits, and give back to the
guys that are actually buying the boats.”
And they are helping to do something
about the issue as well. “Our Bass Clubs of
Texas Top 6 tournament was put together
with the working man in mind, to give
him an outlet in which he could compete,”
Reagan confessed.
To find a club in your area you may
want to use the web, Facebook, or a fishing
forum and search “bass club” and your
area, or check with Fun N Sun Boats.
Largest Selection of
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940-665-9331
march 2015
www.northtexasmarine.com
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817-246-2100
TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
11
Cashing In
GOLD
with
Story and photography by Robert Sloan
I
can’t remember a day that lures
fish on gold spoons from Galveston to East
tied on 1/8-ounce gold spoons, ambled
didn’t fascinate me. Not too long
Africa. In fact, while fishing a reef off the
out of the boat and waded across a flat
ago I wrote about soft plastic jigs as
coast of Tanzania in the Indian Ocean I
that was loaded with hungry reds. It was
being the ultimate lures. That’s probably
hooked and landed a yellowfin tuna that
an all-time wade with good friends, gold
true, but one lure that has endured
ate a ¼-ounce gold spoon tipped with a
spoons and more redfish than you could
decades of use and has caught millions
yellow bucktail teaser.
shake a stick at.
of fish is a gold spoon. And one of the all
Gold spoons will fool largemouth
What makes gold spoons so unique?
time best is the Johnson Silver Minnow.
bass and white bass, as well. Back in the
The main reason is that redfish love the
This is truly a go anywhere, catch anything
60’s we didn’t leave the house without a
flash and will hit them all day long. Plus,
lure. The reason why is simple – it’s idiot
a red is the number one target fish for
selection of gold spoons. Talk about fun,
proof. To catch a fish with this lure you tie
try fishing a weedless spoon with an Uncle
thousands of anglers. But other fish will
it on, cast, reel and sooner or later you’ll
Josh pork frog trailer over lily pads. That
eat them as well.
catch a fish just about anywhere on Earth.
was a go-to pattern for taking numbers
Over the past five decades I’ve caught
One of my very best
of largemouths on Sam
days of fishing was about
Rayburn and Toledo
10 years ago out of Port
Bend.
O’Connor. I was fishing
If you really want to
with outdoor writer
make a haul try fishing
Joe Doggett, Forrest
a gold spoon with a
West who owned and
white or yellow curltail
operated Los Patos
grub trailer. This is
Lodge for years on
an absolute killer on
Bolivar Peninsula and
white bass during the
Dave Kveton a veteran
spring spawn on the
guide who also owns
Sabine, Angelina and
and builds El Pescador
Guadalupe rivers. Fish
boats. All longtime
this combination on
friends we had gathered
the down current side
at Kveton’s lodge for a
of sand bars in March
few days of fishing.
and Apr il and you
The second
had better start calling
afternoon we hit the
family and friends for
honey hole. It was off of
the fish fry.
a point on a place called
Vertically fishing
What makes gold spoons so unique? The main reason is that redfish love the flash and
City Slicker Flats. We
slab type jigging spoons
will hit them all day long.
12
TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
march 2015
“One lure that has endured
decades of use and has caught
millions of fish is a gold spoon.”
is an excellent way to catch white bass on
lakes like Livingston, Toledo Bend and
Fork. A gold slab spoon with a yellow or
white bucktail or feather teaser is a white
bass killer. They will also fool largemouth
bass too. There is no telling how many big
bass have been caught on gold spoons
jigged deep beside the base of a big tree
on Fork and Rayburn.
One of the old-time favorite spoons
for fishing on both salt and fresh water
is the Kastmaster. When it comes to
versatility this spoon rules. It can be fished
in just about any situation anywhere on
Earth. In the 60’s and 70’s this lure was
an absolute killer on trout and reds in the
surf. In fact it was rare to find a person
wading the surf without at least one gold
Kastmaster spoon ready to fish. They are
perfect for fishing the surf because we
could cast them from here to the moon.
The ¼ and 3/8 ounce Kastmaster spoons
were the most popular.
The man behind the Kastmaster spoon
is Art Lavallee. In 1949, Lavallee took some
jewelry and bent and changed their shapes
to create metal fishing lures. He opened
the Acme Tackle Company in 1952. Then
Art learned about a lure called the EDA
Splune. This metal lure was the forerunner
of the Kastmaster.
The Kastmaster can be cast, trolled,
or vertically jigged. It casts like a bullet,
and its unique side-to-side darting action
resembles a baitfish without line twist.
The Kastmaster is machined from solid
brass. It won’t break, bend or corrode
and it retains its luster even after repeated
exposure to salt water.
Another gold spoon that I came across
a few years back is the Bomber Who Dat.
I first used one while fishing a shallow flat
on Calcasieu Lake. This weedless spoon
is made to run shallow and comes with
a built in rattle. Another version is built
with a gold spinner. I’ve used them to
catch a ton of reds on Sabine Lake and at
East Matagorda Bay. In murky water the
Who Dat spinner spoon creates a lot of
vibration and draws strikes when other
spoons won’t even get noticed.
Without a doubt a gold spoon is best
known for catching reds. Of course a silver
spoon will catch ‘em as well. But one sure
fire way to catch reds on any given day is
to use a spoon with gold flash.
Fantastic Fishing
See what Rockport-Fulton
has to offer you.
www.rockport-fulton.org
@ visitrockportfulton
1-800-242-0071
Photo by Phil Stranahan
14
TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
With friends and with clients I do a
lot of wade fishing out of Port O’Connor.
Nine times out of 10 my customers want
to catch a limit of reds ASAP. Because
of that I live and die with gold spoons
on the flats. My favorite spoon fishing
rig is a baitcasting rod and reel spooled
with 12 pound test Silver Thread AN40
line. This particular line is designed with
a small diameter and is very limp and
supple. It’s perfect for long casts and has
low underwater visibility. That translates
into more strikes per cast, especially when
I’m fishing clear water flats for visible fish.
With that rig I’ll tie on a small black
barrel swivel connected to an 18 inch
length of Silver Thread Fluorocarbon
leader. That’s a good leader because it’s
abrasion resistant which is important
when targeting a red with a big ‘ol tough
mouth.
When fishing a clear water flat for reds
my go-to lure is a weedless 1/8-ounce gold
Johnson spoon. This is a lure with lots of
flash, covers a lot of water and will catch
reds like there ain’t no tomorrow. You
can reel them in on a slow, medium or
fast retrieve.
If I’m fishing in murky water, like
on Sabine Lake, the spoon of choice is a
Bomber Who Dat spinner spoon. It’s built
in rattle chamber and spinner make lots
of commotion that can quickly turn into
more reds in the box.
The last thing you want to do is fish
a spoon without some sort of teaser. A
small pink plastic teaser, about the shape
and size of a pinto bean, was the favorite
for years. Another favorite has been a
small bucktail teaser in white or yellow.
For more action you might want to slip
a small plastic curl tail jig on the bend of
the hook.
One of the best rigs for fishing the
flats is a combination of a 1/8 ounce gold
weedless spoon and rattle float. This is a
combo that I use a lot while fishing the
backwater lakes of Port O’Connor. It’s easy
for my clients to use and drives redfish
wild. It’s easy to put together.
First I’ll tie on a Bomber Paradise
Popper X-Treme. These are made with
a cupped face, or in an egg shape. In
choppy water it’s best to use the cupped
face popper. On calm flats I’ll go with an
oval shaped float. These rattle floats create
a tremendous of noise. Plus they are made
to last with titanium wire that won’t kink.
One end of the float is tied to 12
march 2015
pound test line; the other
is connected to an 18inch fluorocarbon leader.
I like to use improved
clinch knots for line to
float connections, and a
loop knot at the spoon.
By the way you’ll get
more action out of the
spoon by using a loop
knot.
Lots of reds run the
surf and will charge a gold
spoon on any given day.
This is when I’ll move up
to a large gold Who Dat
1/2 -ounce metal spoon
that has a wide swing and
lots of flash. It gets down
fast and can be cast darn
near out of sight. That’s
the perfect combination
in the surf.
The bottom line is
this – a gold spoon with
lots of flash is worth its
weight in gold just about
anywhere you can find
hungry fish.
march 2015
Want to catch some redfish ASAP — then tie on a gold spoon.
TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
15
JUST HUNTING | Tom Claycomb III
Varmint Hunting —Extended The Hunting Season
shooter would get ready and
the light would be dropped.
You’d have about one to two
seconds to shoot before they
scattered. Wow how things
have changed. Today I use
a Johnny Stewart “Gallows”
electronic call.
So where should you
hunt? At a food source or
near cover when varmints
are bedded down.
Where is their food
source? For a coyote, anyThe author downed this average size Texas coyote with his
where that food is found. Let
shotgun while using a Johnny Stewart Gallows caller and
me explain what I mean by
masking his scent with Tink’s Predator Mist.
that statement. Last winter
Just because deer season is over doesn’t
I was going to my local Cabela’s store to
mean that you have to put away your rifle.
conduct a varmint hunting seminar. As I
If you do then you’re missing out on some
was about to get on the freeway I looked
of the most high speed, heart pumping
off to my right and there was a coyote
hunting that Texas has to offer — varmint
working a fence line. Another time I saw
hunting. Here’s a little of my varmint
one before daylight walking down Main
hunting history.
Street. So the real question is where do
I remember my daddy buying an old
you have access to hunt, because coyotes
wood Thomas Varmint call some 53 years
are everywhere.
ago. They recommended calling a few secThere are a number of ways to set up
onds then waiting five minutes. Years later
to hunt coyotes and other varmints. You
Johnny Stewart came out with a cassette
can hunt out of a pop-up blind but most of
tape that we’d plug in and then jump in the
the time I just hide behind brush. I carry a
back of the truck. After a few minutes of
piece of camo burlap and usually throw it
letting the tape play we’d run a spotlight on
over two bushes and hide behind it.
the ground out in front of us 15 feet or up
When hunting hilly terrain you never
in the sky. If we saw any eyes glistening the
want to be skylined on a hilltop. If possible
16
TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
it’s best to have an open pasture downwind
of you. When a coyote or other predator
come in, 99.9999 percent of the time
they’re going to circle downwind so if it’s
open you can see them but if it’s brushy he
may wind you and scatter — you’ll never
even know that he was there.
I varmint hunt a lot with a buddy that
puts a roll of toilet paper in a coffee can
and pours skunk scent over it. When we
set up he’ll set the can downwind and
pop off the top. You for sure want to be
upwind of it.
I prefer Tink’s Predator Mist. I spray
grass out by my decoy and the limbs of
brush/trees downwind of me.
When it comes to camo you want to
be camo’d to the max and wear a mesh
face net. Remember, your hands will be
the source of most of your movement, so
wear gloves as well. My camo buddies will
kill me but I don’t wear all one pattern. I
wear a mix-match of clothing. That way
I’m broke up.
Since I like to “run & gun” a heavy
3-D decoy won’t work for me therefore I
like Montana Decoys. I favor their coyote
and rabbit decoys but their fawn is a good
choice in deer country — which is almost
everywhere in Texas. I’m sure in West
Texas an antelope decoy would work fine.
You may want to pin a rag on their tail
which will flutter in the wind. I’ve talked
to MD about making an aftermarket one.
march 2015
This is a large coyote the author said he could
barely hold up for this photo. The coyote was
taken in North Texas.
Then of course an attractant decoy is
nice. They like and expect to see some
movement. I use a Cass Creek Waggler.
I’ve also tied a turkey feather two to three
inches from the top of a metal rod and
stuck it in the ground at an angle which
flutters in the breeze and works fine.
It seems that everyone except maybe
your grandmom uses an AR platform
rifle nowadays. They’re nice since you
can get off multiple shots when two or
three coyotes come in at once. Although
the other day five came in and a buddy
dropped three with his bolt action. That
was impressive.
Anymore though, if there’s two of us
hunting together I carry a shotgun. I kept
track and last year 40 percent of our coyotes were within shotgun range. If you’ve
coyote hunted much you know how many
times you look around and there’s a coyote
coming in at Mach 1 speed with his tail on
fire at close range.
Last January we set up out in a pasture
and a coyote came in like a barrel racer. I
was with a buddy and didn’t want to hog
the first shot but after the coyote zipped
in, ran within 10 feet of our decoy and
swapped ends and shot off. My partner
said, “why didn’t you shoot?”
I said, “Well, I didn’t want to hog the
first shot.” My buddy said, “He was going
30 mph.” And I countered with, “No, actually it was about 40 mph.” The bottom
line is to have a game plane, know who is
going to shoot or areas to be covered by
march 2015
whom before you start calling.
A while back I was calling for a buddy
and his son that had never shot a coyote.
They both had AR’s so I packed along a
shotgun. He was hiding behind a brush
pile and looked up to see a coyote looking
at him from about three paces away. I’m
telling you, shotguns are fun.
I use Hornaday Varmint loads in my
.223 and Hevi-Shot Dead Coyote loads in
my shotgun. A few years ago I was talking
to Kelly Sorensen at the S.H.O.T. Show
and she said, “Tom, you have to try our
new Dead Coyote loads. I rolled one DOA
at 70 yards the other day.”
At first I couldn’t believe it but now
after shooting them I do believe it. Although, I was coyote hunting last week
and shot a possum three times! But that’s
like shooting a zombie so that’s not really
a fair test.
There are a number of ways to call
coyotes. I usually start out with a howl.
I’ll do that for two or three seconds and
then switch to a rabbit cry of some kind. If
you’re in jackrabbit country use that, if in
cottontail country then use that. If nothing is working I might even crank on a
crow call for a minute to make them think
that something is going on over here.
Don’t start out calling too loud. There
could be a critter only 150 yards away and
you don’t want to blow him out of bed. If
nothing comes in then you can crank it up
a little more after a minute or two.
About 90 percent of your coyotes will
show up within the first five minutes so I
don’t set in one spot for over 15-20 minutes unless I’m calling cats. If you’re after
cats usually 30 minutes is a fast response.
If I’m calling on a big ranch and have
plenty of spots to hunt then I’d rather hit
20 places for 10-20 minutes than to set in
8-10 spots and call for 30-60 minutes. If
you run and gun you will call in a lot more
coyotes. Make sense? But if you only have
a small place to hunt then call longer and
softer and milk out each set-up to the max.
If it’s windy it’s always tougher to call
and have critters hear the call. Recently I
was up in Kansas calling and it was really
cold and windy. I didn’t get in one coyote
that day. Sometimes that happens too.
Just because deer season is over, a new
season begins. Grab a call and go shoot
a few coyotes. Plus, the more coyotes you
shoot the more deer and small game you’ll
have. Plus it’s a lot of fun.
TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
17
JUST BOATING | Nate Skinner
Open water bay boats can take anglers to the near shore short rigs
and the beach front during the right conditions.
Bay Boats: Versatility in Big Open Water
A sharp v-entry on the bow of a boat helps it cut through heavy chop.
Everything’s bigger in Texas, and when
God created the Lone Star State, he didn’t
skimp on the estuaries or man’s will power
to create massive open water lakes, not to
mention the vast and salty blue waters of
the Gulf of Mexico. Large bodies of water
mean more areas to fish and play aboard
some of today’s finest watercrafts — these
aren’t your grandpa’s jon-boats.
No matter where anglers are fishing
or boating in Texas, whether the water
is shallow or deep, there’s a good chance
a significant amount of open water lies
somewhere between the dock and a
desired destination. Big water brings BIG
elements and obstacles in all forms — big
weather, big winds, and even bigger waves.
Fortunately, the different lines of bay
boats on the market today, specifically
in the 20 to 25 foot range, are built to
navigate rough chop and large seas while
still encompassing some shallow water
capabilities. From the near-shore waters
of the Gulf, to open bays and estuaries, as
well as big inland lakes across the state, the
versatility of these crafts is phenomenal.
They will take anglers where they want to
go safely and in a timely fashion.
Among the leading brands in center
console bay boats, those that handle
open water well all possess similar
specifications. Although unique in their
own design these open water machines
have the following attributes: A sharp
v-hull entry at the bow, a wide beam,
reverse chines from the bow to mid ship,
a transitional deadrise that flattens to a 12
to 15 degree angle at the rear, and a self
bailing deck that keeps the cockpit dry and
prevents water from holding on the deck.
“A sharp v-hull entry is what enables
a bay boat to cut large waves and handle
a lot of chop,” says Bill Kenner, owner
of K2 Marine and designer of Frontier
and BlackJack boats. “There are many
hulls on the market today, but nothing
cuts through a heavy chop better than a
traditional v-style hull.”
The sharp entry of the V-hull on
both Kenner’s Frontier and BlackJack
boats, possesses a 40 degree recurve in the
forward section, which for the most part
is out of the water when the boat is on
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TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
march 2015
plane, except in heavy chop. “The sharp
angled entry slices through waves, giving
the boats optimum performance in rough
water,” explains Kenner.
Fred Lester of Red Wing Boat
Company, a Houston dealer for Frontier
and BlackJack boats, says the boats on
the market today that are specialized for
shallow water, lack the necessary hull
design to handle comfortably conditions
in excessive chop. “A boat with a v-hull is
necessary for a comfortable ride in rough
water,” says Lester. “Today’s v-style hulls
like the Frontier or the BlackJack can
still float relatively shallow, but will ride
extremely well in big, open water.”
The Blue Wave Pure Bay is another
boat with a deep vee entry point. Brian
Wallace, general manager of North
Texas Marine in Gainsville, Texas, which
happens to be the largest Blue Wave
dealer in the north Texas region, says his
customers “double up” and are using the
Pure Bay on both area lakes such as Lake
Texoma, and on Texas bays around Port
Aransas and Rockport.
“The sharp entry on the bow of the
Pure Bay make it a great boat for open
water lakes, as well as the wide open,
windy bays of the coast,” explains Wallace.
“The typical bass fishing boat became so
specialized, only reaching a specific niche
market, that when the Pure Bay came out
and north Texas residents realized it was
a boat capable of running both on Lake
Texoma and on the coast, they began to
start using these versatile, center console
march 2015
bay boats,” he
says.
Other
leading lines
of bay boats
on the market
that boast a
TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
19
boats possess a lot of “Carolina
onto the deck of the vessel. All open water
Flair,” meaning the sides of the
bay boats must have a self-bailing, dryboat are concave and curve
deck system that allows water on the deck
outward at the top, while others
to flow out of the boat. A combination
have more a hard, reverse chine,
of both scuppers and a floor bilge pump
meaning their sides make a
system rules the boating world today, as
straight angle from the water
these bay boats allow for water on the
line to the gunwale.
deck to flow out through holes near the
A w i de b e a m a n d
water line at the stern of the boat, and
reverse chine makes the water
to also be pumped out by a bilge pump
break lower, and further back
through a drain in the floor of the deck.
on the hull of the boat as it cuts
This combination keeps the deck dry and
through the waves, preventing
safe in extreme conditions.
w i n d b l o w n s p r ay f r o m
Another great aspect of these large
reaching the cockpit. Again,
bay boats is that most offer plenty of
this is extremely effective when
storage. From rod holders and rod
navigating a quartering sea,
lockers, to dry boxes and several different
meaning the wind is blowing
hatches, anglers don’t have to worry about
at an angle from one side of
leaving anything behind.
the
bow
or
the
other.
Although
Just because these bay boats won’t
A reverse chine prevents spray from blowing into the boat
these open water capable boats
run in inches of water, doesn’t mean they
when navigating a quartering wind.
have a deep vee bow, they
can’t be used to fish shallow water. Jack
also encompass a transitional deadrise,
plates can be installed to vertically lift
sharp v-entry enabling them to navigate
meaning their hulls flatten and taper
outboard motors allowing the boat to go
rough, open waters include Nautic Star
off in the rear. “A transitional deadrise
in as shallow of water as it will float. With
Bay Boats, the latest line of Carolina Skiff’s
allows a boat to float shallower, while still
the addition of a trolling motor an angler
DLV series boats, Gulf Coast Boats, and
keeping a deep V-entry for rough water
can then navigate around shallow flats.
Ranger Bay Boats to name a few.
capabilities at the bow,” explains Wallace.
When it’s time to leave, use the trolling
According to Blake Anthony, General
“This concept is what makes the Blue
motor to ease out to deeper water, fire up
Manager of Ron Hoover RV and Marine
Wave Pure Bay an excellent boat on both
the big motor, jump on plane and run to
in Rockport, the v-hull of the Nautic Star
big north Texas lakes and the coast. The
the next fishing hot spot.
is unlike any other bay boat out there.
boat handles rough water well, and can
Imagine owning a boat that could fish
“Nautic Star hulls boast a one-piece
still put anglers in shallow enough water
the flats and the jetties and Gulf waters in
stringer system, which is the support
to stalk fish on the flats.” he says.
the same day. Today’s 20 to 24 foot bay
system or framing structure throughout
The transitional deadrise is what
boats make that a reality. These boats
the interior of the hull of a boat,” says
makes the Carolina Skiff ’s DLV series a
sport the specifications necessary to keep
Anthony. “Most boats stringers are laid
great open water boat, but also a boat
anglers and boaters safe, while enjoying
one piece at a time, but the Nautic Star’s
capable of running or fishing shallow
the sport they love. Forget limitations
stringer system is one solid piece, making
water as well. “This is not your Daddy’s
and experience diversity behind the helm
it virtually impossible to crack a stringer.
Carolina Skiff,” says Anthony of Ron
of one of these versatile bay boats that will
This also prevents any twisting or jerking
Hoover in Rockport. “These boats have
seemingly do it all.
of the stringer system in rough water,
a deep vee bow
making the Nautic Star one stable, roughwhich makes
water-capable boat,” he says.
them perfect for
Of all these boats mentioned, a wide
navigating the
beam combined with a reverse chine
j e t t i e s , b e a ch
helps to create a dry ride when they are
front, and even
running through excessive chop, even
offshore, while
when the wind is quartering from either
the y can also
side and during a straight, cross wind. A
float in less than
wide beam would be considered at least
a foot of water.”
one third of the boat’s overall length, so
No matter
anything eight feet and over is a desirable
what boat is
beam for an open water bay boat.
being used,
A reverse chine is characterized as a
eventually
side of a boat that sticks further out on
rough enough
either side at the top of the gunwale, than
water will send
it does at the water line. In other words,
some spray into
the boat is wider at its top edge than it
Today’s bay boats have plenty of storage so anglers don’t have to leave
the cockpit, and
is where the hull enters the water. Some
any of their favorite gear behind, including a variety of rods and reels.
20 TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
march 2015
Rock solid advice bass anglers can take
straight to the bank during the spring of
the year.
Story and photography by Matt Williams
F
TIME
TO GET
22
TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
SKINNY
march 2015
ish skinny and sooner or later
you’re going to get bit.
Trust me. I’ve been doing it
for years. So have hundreds of thousands
of other anglers who call themselves bass
fishermen.
What gives with the call to shallows?
Like flies are lured to honey, bass are
always beckoned to skinny water when
spring rolls around. That’s because days
are getting longer, water temperatures are
climbing and the bass’ biological tickers
are telling them it’s time to perpetuate the
species by spawning.
While some fish will spawn in deeper
water, most will carry out the process in
water depths in the 1-6 foot range, often
times in water clear enough that you can
easily depict the beds — and the fish —
with the aid of a good pair of polarized
sunglasses.
Targeting bass that can be visibly seen
in spawning beds is fun, but it is not
always the most productive way to fish
during the springtime.
That’s because bedding bass can at
times pose way too much of a challenge for
the average angler to catch. Furthermore,
not all of the bass in a given lake will rush
to the bank and do their thing at exactly
the same time.
Instead, bass spawn in waves.
For every bass you spot around
a shallow spawning bed, there
may be a half dozen pre-spawners
— possibly even more than that
— finning around within casting
range over your shoulder.
Besides the increased
opportunity to catch large fish,
one of the best things about
springtime fishing is there are
so many different techniques
and literally dozens of baits that
anglers can use to fool them.
Naturally, some baits will produce
consistently better results than
others will.
Lipless baits will catch ‘em year-round, but are heavily
Here’s a starting line-up of 10
favored during spring on lakes with abundance of
good artificial baits to have handy
submerged grass.
when you head to your favorite
rounded like other styles of crankbaits.
bass lake over the next 60 days:
They work well when fishing over
Senko: The Senko is a highly versatile
submerged grass beds, but where these
soft plastic jerk bait shaped similar to a Bic
baits really shine is around stumps, logs,
pen — plump in the middle skinny at both
dock pilings and brush.
ends. It can be rigged Texas style with a
The bait’s square bill helps it deflect
light slip sinker, Texas-style weightless or
or ricochet off of hard objects, causing
wacky rigged through the egg sac. It’s a
it to briefly “flutter” or “hunt” erratically
great bait to use when blind casting over
before righting itself in the water column.
shallow spawning flats, along shorelines
Often times this is when bass will hammer
or around bushes.
it. Some square bills are short and fat and
The Senko is simple
produce a wide wobble. Others have flat
to fish. Just cast it out,
sides and produce a tight wobble. Many
let it fall and twitch it
anglers prefer a tighter wobble in cold
every now and then.
water and wider wobble in warmer water.
Rigged weightless,
Lizard: Soft plastic lizards will catch
the bait darts around
bass year-round, but they are heavily
erratically with
favored during spring because they are
every twitch. It’s also
believed to be the best imitation of a
impregnated with sea
salamander trying to slip in to steal some
salt, which gives it
eggs off a bass’ nest.
some extra weight and
Lizards are a good choice for fishing
makes it easy to cast.
Square Bill
Texas style with a light slip sinker around
Crankbait: These are
bushes, brush and grass, or you can fish
shallow diving plugs
them Carolina-style to check inside grass
so named because the
lines or flats with scattered cover.
wide bill is squared off
Spinnerbait: Another year-round
at the front instead of
producer that shines especially bright in
Fish skinny and sooner or later you’re going to get bit.
march 2015
TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
23
Square billed crankbaits really shine when
fished around stumps, logs, dock pilings and
brush.
shallow situations. Spinnerbaits come
with assorted blade combinations.
Double willowleaf or willow/Colorado
combinations are ideal during the spring
months, especially when the water is
clear to slightly stained. Willowleaf blades
provide gobs of flash.
Plus, they tend to give the bait some
“lift”, which naturally makes it easier to
keep the bait elevated in the water column
with a slower retrieve. Colorado blades
are often preferred in muddy or off-color
water, because they produce more thump
or vibration.
Big isn’t always better when it comes
to springtime spinnerbait selection. Baits
weighing 1/4, 3/8 and 1/2 ounce models
rule in the shallows. Use white or white/
chartreuse in clear water, chartreuse in
dirty water.
Wacky Worm: Actually, the wacky
worm isn’t a bait. It’s a do-nothing worm
rig that works great when bass aren’t in
the mood to chase. Stiff bodied finesse
worms about 5-6 inches long work best.
To build one, hook the worm through the
egg sac in the middle of the worm, leaving
the head and tail dangling.
Fishing a wacky worm is simple
repetition. Cast it out, let it sink for a few
seconds, twitch it a couple of times and
left it fall again. Most strikes will feel like
a “tick” will occur as the bait is falling.
24
TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
It is a good idea to use a weedless hook
designed head and line tie that helps it
when fishing around heavy cover. You can
come through heavy grass and brush
extremely well. Most anglers like to
modify the fall rate by inserting a small
work it with a steady retrieve just like a
finishing nail into the head.
Jerkbait: Hard body jerk baits like
spinnerbait, or you can stop it occasionally
the Rogue or Long A are designed to
to allow it to fall alongside clumps of grass
simulate a wounded or disoriented bait
or bushes. Most strikes are violent and
fish. The jerk bait has a short bill on the
usually require no hookset, because the jig
nose that causes it to dive when put in
is typically moving when the fish slam it.
motion. Shallow models will dive one to
Outfitting the swim jig with a craw
three feet, then float back to the surface
with fluttering-style claws will increase
when paused. Suspending models dive
the action, make the jig appear bulkier
a little deeper and maintain that depth
and slow the fall rate.
when paused.
Soft Swim Baits: There are a ton of
Work the jerk bait with a twitchswim baits out there, but those equipped
twitch-pause, twitch-twitch-pause
with a paddle-style tail that thumps
cadence. It’s a great choice when fishing
side-to-side as the bait moves through
above submerged grass, around bushes or
the water column are a favorite among
over open flats.
springtime bass anglers.
Chatterbait: A popular bass lure that
They work best with a specially
will catch the big ones and numbers, alike.
designed hook that has a wide gap for
It combines the weedless characteristics
the best penetration. Some anglers prefer
of a jig with the flash of a spinnerbait. A
hooks that are equipped with a built-in
specially-designed blade rides in front of
weight on the shank to help the lure stay
the jig head and catches water, causing the
down in the water column. Others prefer
lure to vibrate erratically when in motion.
a nose weight, especially when fishing
The bait comes stock with a silicone skirt
around thick vegetation.
and split tail trailer.
Swim baits work best when there
Some anglers like to modify the bait
is some wind to put some chop on the
surface and in water that is fairly clear.
by trimming the skirt about an inch long
and replacing the split tail trailer
with a four-inch swim bait like a
Lake Fork Tackle Magic Shad. This
makes the bait appear larger while
enhancing the action.
Lipless Crankbait: The lipless
crankbait needs no introduction.
Pros and novices have for years
been giving bass plenty of lip and
reaping of loads of finny rewards
in return. Lipless baits will catch
‘em year-round, but are heavily
favored during spring on lakes
with abundance of submerged
grass.
Fishing the bait is simple. Just
chunk it and wind it. On grass
lakes, the key is to fish it just fast
enough so it occasionally ticks
the top of the grass. Most strikes
occur when the hooks tear free
of the grass. Baits weighing 1/2
and 3/4 are best suited for most
situations. Crawfish and shad
color imitations get lots of play
during the spring months.
Swim Jig: The swim jig look
similar to a traditional casting or
A wacky worm is a do-nothing worm rig that works
great when bass aren’t in the mood to chase.
flipping jig, except for a specially
march 2015
SALTWATER JOURNAL | Mark Sosin
Determining Where to Fish
Every search pattern
begins with a starting point.
If you are able to find out
where fish were caught
yesterday, that’s a good place
to look first. Even if you
simply learn the water depth
in which fish were caught,
that’s an important clue.
Fish often prefer a given
water depth over a wide
area at a specific time. On
inshore waters, you also
need to calculate that the
tides are about 50 minutes
later today than they were
yesterday.
Po k i n g a r o u n d a t
random seldom leads to
success and fails to provide
a basis for logical research.
Rig ht or w rong , ever y
decision you make should
This trout was caught tight to some old pilings. The pilings were the structure that broke the flow of water, and
be part of a plan that can be
the trout used this to lay and wait for its next meal to come along.
reviewed frequently during
the day. Suppose you don’t have access
channels as well as runs where water still
They are always facing into the flow of
to the latest information and you don’t
remains at the bottom of the tide.
water regardless if it is the main flow or a
keep a detailed log from year to year that
One way to deal with tides and
back eddy. Cruising fish usually work into
will help you determine where fish might
currents centers on locating narrow spots
the current or at an angle across it. They
be under today’s conditions and at this
where the water flows. I like to refer to
expect their food to be carried toward
part of the season. If you are working
these places as the neck of a funnel where
them by the tide. Experts also talk about
the offshore grounds, start at a reasonable
a wider area drains through a smaller
“seats in a restaurant.” These are spots
depth that the fish you seek often inhabit
tube. An inlet that drains a bay is a perfect
where a fish can hold comfortably while
and then probe deeper and shallower from
example, but there are many more subtle
facing into the current. If you can locate
there.
funnel necks anywhere there are tidal
these “seats,” you can return time after
Probing around bottom structure
currents. Picture a pair of shallow flats
time and fish will be there.
such as reefs, wrecks, rocks, and so forth
on either side of a deeper cut. In the surf,
During the days leading up to the
could produce results. And if you see
there are channels that take water back
full and new moons, high tides are higher
other boats working an area, watch them
into the sea. Fish instinctively know this
than normal and low tides are lower.
closely to see if they are catching fish.
and they tend to stake out spots knowing
These are called spring tides. That means
Experienced trollers sometimes make
that prey will be carried to them by the
that a greater volume of water is being
an occasional swing from one side to the
flow of water. This is a natural spot to
transferred during the same six hours of
other. That causes the baits or lures on
look for fish.
a tide. Higher incoming water enables fish
the inside tack to sink. When the boat
Every animal, including fish, relates
to push farther up in the shallows. When
goes back to the original course, those
to edges and frequently orients to them.
the water falls, these fish ease off the flat
offerings rise quickly back to the surface,
An edge, by definition, is a transitional
and take up residence in a shouldering
often enticing a fish in the process.
zone where a change takes place. It might
channel where they can wait for forage
For many of the near shore and
be the border between a swift current and
species to abandon the shallows. The
inshore species, tidal stage looms as a vital
more placid water or it could be a current
bottom of a spring tide when the water is
factor to consider. Stationary fish find
running in the ocean. On a flat, deeper
lowest provides the best opportunity for
some form of structure where the force of
pockets form an edge with surrounding
shallow water anglers and surf fishermen
the current is reduced, but where they can
shallows. A change of water color is
to search for new spots. Structure tends
dart out and grab an unsuspecting prey.
considered an edge whether it is murky
to jut out and it is much easier to detect
26
TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
march 2015
In the spring, higher incoming water enables fish to push
farther up in the shallows. When the water falls, these fish
ease off the flat and take up residence in a shouldering
channel where they can wait for forage species to abandon
the shallows.
to clear, green to blue, or
anything else. Weed lines
also form an edge as does
any type of structure. The
bottom may go from sand
to grass or rock or mud or
one thing to another. All
these are edges that hold
fish. Keep in mind that fish
could be on one side of the
edge or the other, so you
have to work both sides
until you get a hookup.
Any type of structure
offers another area to
start the search for fish.
Consider structure to be
anything different from
the surrounding area that
holds or attracts fish. Under
offshore conditions it could
be a weed line, flotsam of
some type, or a rise in the sea
floor. Reefs, both natural or
artificial, are structure along
with rocks or other debris
on the bottom. A buoy or
pilings are structure. Trees
lying in the water along a shore line are
also structure. If something breaks the
flow of water (including bridges and
jetties), think of it as structure. Many
of these things cause dead spots in the
current that allow predators to lie in
wait with a minimum of effort. If you’re
searching for fish at random, check out all
the structure and edges you can find and
fish them systematically.
Water temperature ranks as one of the
most critical factors in determining where
fish will be. Each species has a preference
and a tolerance to a temperature range.
Beyond the tolerance level, it cannot
survive very long. If you’re having trouble
finding fish, check the water temperature.
And if you don’t have a thermometer or
temperature gauge, stick your hand in the
water to see if it is exceptionally cold or
warm. Most fish can detect temperature
changes as minor as a fraction of a degree.
If water temperature is not conducive
to the primary bait supply, gamefish
probably won’t be in the area.
Remember to make every move with
a purpose and a reason. If you do, you will
enjoy better than an average day.
A PLACE FOR ALL SEASONS
Relax, we’ll take care of the details!
GIVE US A CALL!
march 2015
TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
27
For information on guides mentioned, see Guides, Gear & Getaways on pages 67, 69, & 71
Lake Roundup
By John Jefferson
A few years ago, my friend, Herbert
Marion, caught what he thought was a
ShareLunker – a largemouth 13 pounds
or over. He called the ShareLunker hotline
number, as was the procedure at the time,
and Dave Campbell drove from Athens
to weigh the fish. It was over 12 pounds,
but under13. Heckuva fish; but no cigar.
And it took staff time and gasoline to
determine that.
Doubt has now been removed – at least
on Lake Austin. A new weigh and holding
station has been erected at the boat ramp
under the Loop 360 Bridge. Anglers can
now weigh their fish on certified scales
24-hours a day during the ShareLunker
season, October 1 – April 30, by calling
(903) 681-0550. The number is on the
outside of the station. The angler will
be given the cabinet’s combination and
weighing instructions. If the bass is 13
pounds or over, the angler can use a net
enclosed in the cabinet to hold the fish
in the lake until TPW personnel arrive
from San Marcos. The net keeps the bass
healthier than being in a live well.
This is the first such weigh station
on Texas lakes. It’s somewhat surprising
that Lake Austin was the first chosen
despite ShareLunker bass having become
scarcer in the past three years since
abundant grass carp were placed in the
lake. Austin was hot a few years ago, but
few ShareLunkers have been caught since
carp stocking. Fisheries staff insists that
28 TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
spawn. It could run later than usual. I
large bass are still there, but catches don’t
promise you I’ll still be looking for flow
support it since the hydrilla became kale
this month.
for carp. The next lake to receive a weight
I checked a few places in mid-January
station will be Purtis Creek.
and was disappointed. Floyd Clearman,
Duke Kinley fishes Austin every week
who, lives on the Pedernales River,
and guides there. He acknowledges the
hydrilla is gone, but he manages to catch
has always been my resource on river
large bass, though none over ten pounds.
conditions in the spring. Floyd said there
It’s uncertain just what effect the
had been a small, short-lived rise on the
loss of hydrilla habitat will have on the
river, but still not enough to allow him
largemouth population. It’s a good bet
to get his boat in the water. He lamented
that it won’t be good. Bass habitat and
that unless we had more good rains in
pleasure boat habitat seem to be in inverse
February and early March that he would
proportion. Kinley reports seeing large
miss out on another season of chasing the
schools of large grass carp eating the base
whites upstream to the Reimers’ Ranch.
of reeds in the lake, which indicates that
Whites congregate there, and in past years
they are eating themselves out of house
have provided legendary fishing. It’s a
and home – at least the hydrilla home of
special place. Clearman said the river is
bass and many of the baitfish species upon
nothing but a creek in front of his place
which they survive.
this year.
The good news is that white bass and
If the river is but a creek, Sandy
Creek near Jonestown was little more
stripers are open water fish, and should
not be affected by the
lack of hydrilla. Kinley
has seen large schools of
whites and caught several
large stripers in January.
That’s little consolation,
however, for the legion
of largemouth fishermen
who flock to the lake
each spring in hopes of
hauling in a largemouth
ShareLunker and winning
loot, including a lifetime
fishing license if their
catch is the largest in the
state that year.
But, speaking of white
bass, the spring spawn of
the whites is still going on
–if you can find enough
running water for them
to swim up. They prefer
moving water in which
to release and fertilize
their eggs. By the time
you read this, some of the
spawn will be over, but I’m
Photo by John Jefferson
also guessing the extreme
A new station to weigh bass potentially qualifying for the
cold weather in December
TPWD Toyota ShareLunker Program has been erected near the
and January retarded the
boat ramp below the Loop 360 Bridge over Lake Austin.
march 2015
than a ditch. One area upstream from
the Jonestown Park boat ramp, however,
had a fair amount of water coming over
a low water crossing. I followed the creek
on back down to the park, though, and it
was just little more than a ditch. A couple
walking their dog in the dry creek bed,
formerly a deep staging area for whites
in years past, told me they had only had
about an inch of rain this year. Sad.
At the same time they had received
only an inch, my rain gauge about 15
miles east of there had recorded 3.5 inches
that week. That’s the story of Central
Texas rainfall. If it doesn’t stop at I-35,
as it usually does, it at least peters out
before it gets to the upper Colorado River
watershed. Another good rain event after
that did bring water to the shed, however.
Mason and Llano, both on the Llano River,
which flows into Lake Travis, received
decent rains. Menard, west of Mason and
on the San Saba River, had not only rain,
but even a little snow. Most of the Hill
Country received adequate moisture from
that wet front.
No, that wasn’t enough to break the
drought, according to the weathermen
march 2015
well. Tom has posted a “NO FISHING”
and the Austin American-Statesman, but
sign, there, but has made up for it by firing
it could have helped stream flow. And
up the grill on Sunday afternoons and
that spawns white bass fishing. We later
hosting an open mike session on the patio
followed Cypress Creek downstream from
beneath the pecan trees, which soothes
where it passes under Bullick Hollow
the anguished fisherman who have driven
Road and were surprised at the flow.
around all afternoon looking for a place
Several families were fishing in a wide hole
to launch!
between the two county parks, but no one
So keep praying for rain!
seemed to be catching anything.
F u r t h e r
downstream, the
creek widened and
dashed over a fourfoot waterfall, creating
another hole. We didn’t
go any further, but
feel one more decent
rain could provide a
passageway for fish, at
least as far upstream as
that waterfall.
On the way
home, we stopped
at Twin Creeks Hall,
formerly the uniquely
enchanting Enchanted
Photo by John Jefferson
Tavern, and the creek
Sandy Creek is flowing above Jonestown, but needs more rain
to enable white bass to come upstream to the traditional spring
alongside it was flowing
spawning grounds.
TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
29
Just Shooting | Kerry O’Day
Varmint Hunting Time
If you are
long shots or someone who is trying to
going to drive
get into the 1,000 yard club (10 hits at
up close and
1,000 yards in a row) you might need a
shoot from a
specialized caliber. A 6mm-284, a 224
truck, a good
TTH or a 6.5-284 are a few of the hunters’
22, 22 Mag, or
favorites.
After you pick the right caliber you will
17 HMR make
need the right barrel, stock, and trigger. If
great guns.
you are going to shoot lots of rounds in
These calibers
a row then you need a barrel that won’t
will make good
heat up too quickly. A bull barrel is a must
kills out to
and a fluted bull barrel is even better. The
about 75 yards
flutes add more surface area for cooling
and you can
so you can shoot a few more times before
make hits out
your shots start to go off target. A custom
to about 120
barrel is expensive but will be worth it
yards.
in the long run and it will give you the
If you are
accuracy for making the long shots. The
going to shoot
stock should be bigger in the forend area
much farther
to support the bull barrel and to make it
than 100 yards,
easier to shoot off a rest or a bi-pod.
you need a rifle
A good light trigger is a must. When
in a caliber
you
are shooting at a 12 inch target at
c
a
p
a
b
l
e
o
f
Photo by Bill L. Olson
600
or
1,000 yards any kind of movement
making
kills
at
The right combination of rifle, trigger, ammunition and scope allows this
will
make
you miss. A two pound or
longer
ranges.
hunter to make long range shots on prairie dogs in West Texas.
lighter trigger will keep you on target at
A go o d b o l t
Deer season is over and you are putting
the longer range. Many shooters even
action gun in 222 Rem, 223 Rem, or 17
away your big game rifle until the fall
use benchrest triggers set as light as four
Remington are great for shots out to 250
season returns. Now is the time to pull
ounces.
yards.
out your small caliber rifle and start
After you have your rifle ready you
Beyond 250 yards a rifle which can
hunting varmints. You don’t need any
now need to address the scope. If you
shoot a little flatter and buck the wind
special equipment to have great fun and
are going to be serious about shooting
better will help greatly. A 204 Ruger,
keep your shooting skills sharp during the
prairie dogs at long range, a 3 x 9 scope
22-250, 243 Rem, or a 220 Swift work
“off-season.”
just isn’t going to cut it. You will need a
wonders.
For the person who gets serious about
good scope with a higher power. Some of
For the shooter who makes the really
shooting prairie dogs, there are a few items
that will make it easier and more fun. The
right caliber will also make the weekend
one that you will never forget. You can
shoot over 1,000 rounds in a weekend
so having the right gun, ammunition,
scope, and spotting scope will make your
shooting more productive and your hit
ratio go through the roof.
The right gun will make shooting
long range at small targets much easier.
You can take out your 7 Mag hunting
rifle and shoot varmints, but after about
100 shots your shoulder will be very sore.
Your ears will hurt from the extra noise
and percussion. Plus your checkbook will
be a bit smaller from paying the price for
Every bullet manufacturer makes bullets for varmint hunting. Here are just a few in 22 caliber.
expensive ammo.
my favorite scopes are a Leupold Vari-X
III 6.5 x 20, Night Force NXS 8 x 32, and
Swarovski Z5 5 x 25.
I have been using the Swarovski 5 x
25 scope quite a bit lately and really like
it. The clarity is the best of any scope I
have ever used and the click adjustment
is right on.
I also recommend using a ballistic
turret on your scope. By using a turret
you can make your adjustments to the
exact quarter of an inch. If you are
shooting at a large deer sized animal, a
quarter of an inch doesn’t matter, but on
an eight inch size target, a quarter of an
inch could mean the difference between
a hit or a miss.
Most scope manufacturers build
custom turrets for their long range scopes.
If they don’t or if you have an older scope,
Kenton Industries builds custom turrets
for many different scopes on the market.
You can have the Kenton turrets set up
perfect for the bullet and velocity which
you are shooting. Leupold Custom Shop
or Swarovski can do a similar turret for
your scope but dealing with a smaller
company like Kenton is very easy.
Now that you have your rifle set up,
you need to know which bullet you are
going to shoot. In most cases, I like to
shoot a very fragile bullet which will blow
up on contact. I have been using Sierra
Blitz-Kings, Nosler Ballistic-Tips, and
Swift Scirocco bullets.
I also use the lightest bullet that my
rifle will shoot well. If you use a 100 grain
bullet in your 243 for hunting deer try
30
march 2015
TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
march 2015
Any number of calibers can be used to hunt varmints, but here the author considers to be the
best: (left to right) 17 HMR, 22 Mag, 22 Hornet, 204 Ruger, 22-250, 243 Improved, and 6.5-284.
such a problem in many parts of Texas that
ranchers want them shot on sight. A sow
can have about eight piglets twice a year
and if left uncontrolled, in four years you
will have more than 10,000 pigs on your
property. These wild porkers can root up
and destroy acres of crops or the greens of
a golf course in a single night.
Any of your favorite varmint rifles
or big game hunting rifles will work on
pigs, but I like using a heavier and betterconstructed bullet. Nosler Partition,
Barnes Triple Shock and Swift A-frame
bullets are some of the best.
One other nice thing about hog
hunting is you end up with some very
tasty meat. There is not much better
eating than a small sow or a young male
pig. A really big boar makes a great trophy
mount and I grind up the meat for the
dogs to eat.
So there is no reason to stop hunting
just because deer seasons have ended. Just
pick up a different gun, with different
bullets and find a friendly farmer who
wants you to take out a few varmints for
him.
a 70 or 85 grain bullet for varmints. In
my 220 Swift, I use the 50 grain Nosler
Ballistic-Tips. In my 6mm-284, I shoot
the 85 grain Sierra and in my 223 I use the
52 grain Sierra JHP. All of these bullets
will provide clean and explosive kills on
both prairie dogs and
coyotes.
If you are going
to keep the hides
of the coyotes you
will need a different
bullet. Some shooters
use a very explosive
bullet and hope that
the bullet will stay
inside the body and
not ruin the hide on
the far side. I prefer
to use a solid or full
metal jacket bullet
which will just pass
through the body and
leave a small hole on
both sides.
If you use a FMJ
bullet, I think a
shoulder shot works
better than a behind
the shoulder shot. I
like to break a leg so
the coyote won’t go
anywhere and is dead
right where I hit him.
One more animal
Photo by Bill L. Olson
I consider a varmint
Hunters have a broad range of light-weight AR platform or bolt
action rifles to choose from when hunting varmints. These two
is a wild hog. Wild
custom rifles are from M-G Arms in Houston.
swine have become
TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
31
For information on guides mentioned, see Guides, Gear & Getaways on pages 67, 69, & 71
CoastWatch
Danno Wise
Drifting the mussel flats on Sabine Lake is a prime way to catch trout and redfish in March.
March will see warmer weather and
more active fish and fishermen as winter
yields to spring. March is usually a good
time to catch trophy trout, but it also
signals the start of ‘numbers season.’ In
fact, often times trout fishermen must
choose between chasing big fish or going
after a cooler full of keepers.
March is also the time when the bay
traffic transitions from a relatively few
hardcore pluggers to growing masses of
casual fishermen. But, since there will be
more fish, more active in more parts of
the bays, the swelling number of anglers
will go virtually unnoticed.
What won’t go unnoticed, though, is
the increasing wind velocity. Throughout
the w inter, high w inds prevailed
immediately before and during frontal
passages. However, anglers were typically
afforded a few calm days between fronts.
As March gets going calm days will
become much more rare. But, a little extra
wind is a small price to pay for warm
weather and better fishing.
Matagorda guide Capt. Tommy Countz
says March means good fishing will be had
in both East and West Matagorda bays.
“I’ll spend a lot of March in West
Matagorda Bay,” said Countz. “I’ll start
out throwing topwaters in the shallows.
Then once the sun starts getting up high,
I’ll back out to the grass beds and the guts
outside the bars. When I’m fishing the
beds, I’ll switch over to Norton Sand Eels
and will mostly be targeting trout.
“But, we also get a lot of redfish in West
Bay in March. If we get a late northern
that knocks all the water out of the bay,
we’ll have some really good redfish action.
But, we usually have good redfish action
in West Bay during March regardless.”
“I will also be fishing in East Matagorda
Bay at times. Most of the time when I’m
fishing East Bay, I’m drifting those midbay reefs. You can pick up a lot of good fish
drifting East Bay in the spring. If you want
UPPER COAST
Photo by Nate Skinner
In March the sheepshead bite will begin. Sheepshead are often overlooked by anglers but put
up a nice fight and are excellent to eat.
32
TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
march 2015
to try and catch a little bigger fish, you can
wade those reefs as well. If you’re wading
those reefs, you need to be throwing
Corkys or topwaters. If you do that, it’s
possible to catch a really big trout.”
Freeport guide Capt. Mike Segal of
Reel Threel Charters says March signals
the time when he begins to switch his
focus to offshore action.
“In March, we start getting all those
Spring Break trips going,” said Segal.
“We’ll do some state water snapper
around the reefs and rocks - and let me tell
you, there are snapper everywhere. And,
if we get the right weather, we might run
out looking for kingfish. I’ll also be doing
some bay fishing trips in March.
“But, most of my stuff will be
beachfront or nearshore. We’ll do some
bull red trips along the beachfront, near
the mouth of Brazos River and around
the mouth of the jetties. This time of
year, you’ll find those bull reds in 28 to 40
feet of water. We just fish for them with
sardines on bottom. When we’re fishing
for bull reds, we usually pick up a few
sharks as well. During March, most of the
sharks are sharpnose and blacktip.
“People really don’t think about fishing
those bull reds much during spring, but
we’ll have some really good bull red action
this month. Those fish are there - big fish.
You just have to go after them.”
In Galveston, Capt. Greg Verm says
variety will be the spice of angling life
during the month of March.
“The month of March marks the
beginning of our spectacular sheepshead
bite,” said Verm. “Each year, more and
more people are realizing the awesome fun
that these fish bring as well as their much
overlooked table fare quality. I, personally,
would rather have a fried sheepshead filet
than trout or redfish. The trick is in how
to properly filet the fish.
“We have already begun catching nice
size sheepshead and the bite will get better
and better as water temps rise. In the bays,
where we are already seeing an increase in
sheepshead, we are catching them along
oyster reefs using live shrimp under a
popping cork.
“The bite along the jetties has began to
increase, and live shrimp free lined along
the rocks is a sure bet. We will adjust the
amount weight depending on the strength
of currents and also the depth the fish are
staging.
“Also, March will be a great month to
march 2015
hook into giant black drum. Fresh blue
crab, live crawfish or cut mullet will be
the baits of choice fished in depths from
10 to 26 foot deep. These fish will put
up an awesome battle and are great fun
for kids. We will once again be donating
boats to the annual Turning Point Drum
Tournament.
“This is a great event for those
physically challenged to get out on the
water and catch some of these brutes! We
usually enter the youth division and it is
a great experience. I have actually placed
in the Top Three the last two years. Great
times indeed.
“Flounder gigging will be very good
when conditions allow. Conditions are
usually unfavorable during March, but
when conditions allow - results can be
outstanding.
“Reds and trout will also be on the hit
list in the bayous and marsh. Live shrimp
and mullet will usually do the trick.”
Sabine Lake guide Capt. Randy
Foreman says March fishing is fairly easy
so long as you have two things — mullet
TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
33
Photo courtesy Trey Prye
There will still be some trophy sized trout caught in March on Texas
upper coast and in southwest Louisiana.
and moving water.
“March is a
good month for
us,” said Foreman.
“But, you’ve got
to find mullet and
you have to fish on
an incoming tide.
“For the
most part, I’ll be
drifting the flats
on the Louisiana
side, fishing two to
four feet of water
over mussel flats.
And, I’ll still be
throwing Down
South Southern
Shad. I’ll be
throwing Red Shad
for the most part.
“ Bu t , i f t h e
shrimp move in,
I’ll switch to glow/
chartreuse. March
is when we start
seeing the shrimp
come back into the
lake. When they’re
here, glow is the color you want to throw.”
“As everything starts warming up in
March, those shrimp will start coming
back in. If we have a good, strong incoming
tide, it will push those shrimp in. On the
south end of the bay, we’ll start seeing
some good bird activity over the shrimp.
Early in the month, it will mostly be small
fish under the birds. But, by the middle of
March you can catch some pretty good
fish under the birds.”
“The reds will still be on the banks in
March. Just like February, the reds will be
on the drops against the shorelines over
shell. Plus, those big redfish will start
showing up around the jetties. There
won’t be many days you can fish out there
in March because of the weather, but you
can catch plenty of big reds out there when
you can fish it.
“And, we’ll start seeing some good
flounder fishing during March. I’ll be
working the points and eddies and bayous
along the Louisiana shore and flippin’
glow/chatreuse Southern Shad covered
with ProCure Gel. I’ll also be using that
same bait, fishing the drops along the
Sabine channel. I’ll find areas where 4 feet
drops to 10 feet and fish there for both
flounder and trout.”
soft-plastics and shrimp are the ‘go-tos.’
But, even though trout will be the
number one target, there will also be good
numbers of redfish found throughout the
south end of Calcasieu during March.
The majority of the redfish will be found
along the shorelines in knee to waist deep
water. However, there will also be plenty
of spottails around the weirs. A variety
of soft-plastic lures and natural baits will
tempt redfish during March.
Tuna will be the main focus in
March for anglers leaving out of Venice.
Fishermen making the run can expect to
find tuna over the offshore lumps. March
is the month when most of Louisiana’s
record fish are caught, so anglers can
expect to tangle with big bruiser tuna.
In fact, most of the fish on the lumps in
March are over 100 pounds, with 200
pounders being a real possibility. March
is also a great month for wahoo, which
will also be thick around the lumps. Like
the tuna, the wahoo run big in March,
averaging around 50 pounds with 95 to
100 pound fish being common catches.
Inshore fishing in the Venice area is
mostly influenced by the condition of
the Mississippi River in March. The water
level, salinity and temperature of the river
water is most affected by the amount of
snow melt and runoff up north. If the
river is in good condition, anglers can
expect good trout fishing with solid
specks.
Anglers wishing to play it safe should
target areas like the oyster bars around
Hopedale which won’t be affected by the
river and will likely produce good catches
all month regardless.
There will be some redfish moving
into the marshes in March, but that, too,
will be influenced by the condition of the
river. The most consistent redfish action
will be on the outside of the cane breaks
during March.
LOUISIANA COAST
Photo courtesy Capt. Greg Verm
March is the month when anglers can tangle with big black drum.
34
TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
Spring is trout time on Lake Calcasieu.
Big Lake fishermen will have plenty of
options during March.
The third month is still prime big trout
time on Big Lake. Fishermen looking for
sow specks should concentrate on the
shorelines, throwing slow-sinking baits
like the MirrOlure Catch 2000. On warm
days, topwater plugs can produce good
results as well.
Fishermen looking to box numbers of
keeper specks should concentrate on the
reefs. When seeking school-size specks,
march 2015
Photo by Nate Skinner
Capt. Nick Poe of Big Lake Guide Service
shows off a quality of trout available in
March on Lake Calcasieu in southwest
Louisiana. A slow sinking Corky that caught
this fish will remain a good option this
month.
march 2015
TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
35
BASSOLOGY | Matt Williams
Former State Record Holder Gets Hall of Fame Status
The guy who caught
what is arguably the
most famous fish ever
caught in the history of
Texas freshwater fishing is
finally in line to reel in the
recognition he deserves.
Mark Stevenson of Alba
will be inducted to the
Texas Freshwater Fishing
Hall of Fame during the
annual Toyota ShareLunker
banquet set for June 6 at the
Texas Freshwater Fisheries
Center in Athens.
The angler was
nominated by Frank Ray
Johnston, Jr., of Quitman.
The main focus of the
banquet is usually placed on
a small army of taxidermy
replicas representing all the
heavyweight bass turned
over to the ShareLunker
program during the
pre v ious season. T his
year the spotlight will be
shining especially bright
Photo courtesy Mark Stevenson
on Stevenson, or at least it
Fishing guide Mark Stevenson of Alba is best known for his catch of the first entry into TPWD’s ShareLunker
should be.
program in 1986. The 17.67-pound largemouth bass from Lake Fork, known as Ethel, was the state record
Anyone who knows
at the time and achieved international fame during her subsequent residence at the Bass Pro Shops store in
the history of Texas bass
Springfield, Mo. Stevenson will be inducted into the Texas Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in June.
fishing knows Stevenson’s
induction to the HOF is over due. Long
over as its first entry didn’t necessarily
spurred the construction of numerous
overdue.
spell instant success for the program,
marinas and other businesses while at
Stevenson is a Lake Fork fishing guide
but it certainly gave organizers the jump
the same time driving real estate sales
who caught a 17.67 pound largemouth
start they needed to help sell the concept
through the roof. A 1996 economic survey
bass from the 27,000-acre reservoir on
to fishermen at a time when “catch and
indicated the lake generated about $26
Nov. 26, 1986. The fish ranked as the
release” was just beginning to get a toemillion annually for local economies.
Texas state record until 1992, when Barry
hold in Texas fishing circles.
Stevenson didn’t have to loan the fat
St. Clair reeled in an 18.18 pounder that
Obviously, the sales pitch worked.
fish he nicknamed “Ethel” to the state, but
gobbled up a live shiner as he fished for
The program has since taken in nearly
he did. It was his willingness to do so for
crappie near the dam.
560 entries.
which he is now finally being rewarded
Twenty-eight years later, Stevenson’s
Furthermore, word of Stevenson’s
with a HOF induction.
bass still ranks as the heaviest bass ever
catch spread like wildfire and helped
The HOF was created 17 years ago
caught by an angler in Texas using an
lure millions of visitors to a lake that
to enshrine people or organizations that
artificial lure. He caught it on a Stanley Jig.
eventually became known as the best
have made meaningful contributions to
What makes the fish even more special
in America for outsized bass. Today,
Texas freshwater fishing. In my book,
is it was the inaugural entry to Texas
Fork is responsible for nearly half of the
Stevenson’s contribution was a heck of
Parks and Wildlife’s Operation Lone Star
ShareLunker program total and more
a lot more meaningful than many of the
Lunker Program (currently called Toyota
than half of Top 50 heaviest bass ever
inductees before him. However, for some
ShareLunker).
caught in Texas. The big bass explosion at
reason there has been a lengthy delay
Having a new state record handed
Fork resulted in an economic boom that
in recognizing him for it. He has been
36
TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
march 2015
nominated before, but was rejected.
Some have speculated that Stevenson’s
HOF induction may have come long
before now had it not been for a decision
he made in early 1987. That decision was
to remove Ethel from the display tank
at the now defunct TPWD Tyler Fish
Hatchery just a few months after it was
caught and send her to Bass Pro Shops
in Springfield, Mo., as part of a lease
agreement.
I don’t know about all of that. What I
do know is the guy certainly shouldn’t be
faulted for jumping at the opportunity
to make a few bucks off of his own fish.
Stevenson is a hard working fishing guide.
It’s a tough occupation where every little
bit helps.
Stevenson said he signed an initial
lease for $15,000 and received $300 per
month from Bass Pro Shops during the
eight years Ethel was finning around in
a giant, state-of-the art display tank for
millions of people to see. The fish finally
died at the age of 19 and weighed in at
about 20 pounds. The guide said he had
two other initial offers on the table that
would have paid him significantly more
money than the deal with Bass Pro Shops
did. One was with a fish tank exhibit that
traveled to boat shows all around the
country. The other was with a private fish
breeding operation.
Stevenson said the chose the less
valuable of the three offers in Ethel’s best
interest.
“I don’t think she would have lasted
a year being hauled all over the country,”
he said. “She had the best of everything
at Bass Pro Shops. They had a full time
biologist looking after her. There wasn’t
any stress and no changes in the climate.
It was the best possible environment for
longevity. In looking back it all worked
out for the best.”
In more ways than one.
During her eight years at Bass Pro
Shops headquarters, an estimated 20
million visitors came to see the fat fish
from Lake Fork, Texas. Not all of those
people came to soak their baits at Lake
Fork, but you can bet a bunch of them did.
Ethel was so popular with visitors
that Bass Pro felt compelled to give her
a memorial service when she died there
in 1994. Hundreds of people attended,
including company founder Johnny
Morris and dozens of members of the
press.
Morris’ appreciation for the big bass
extended well beyond the 1994 memorial
service. In 2004, he provided a $650,000
challenge grant to aid in the construction
of a $2 million classroom/conservation
center at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries
Center in Athens. He dedicated the
contribution in Ethel’s name.
In addition to his close association
with Texas most famous bass, Stevenson
is being recognized for organizing fishing
trips for various charity organizations and
for his involvement with the Lake Fork
Sportsman’s Association.
Joining Stevenson at the induction
podium will be members of the Guadalupe
River Trout Unlimited organization. With
more than 5,000 members, GFTU is the
largest Trout Unlimited organization in
the nation and has played a key role in the
development of a year-round trout fishery
on the Guadalupe River in Central Texas.
The organization also funds scientific
studies of the fishery and contributes to a
variety of conservation programs aimed
at promoting premium water quality
essential for maintaining good trout
fisheries.
Check back often for the latest outdoor news
from across Texas, the United States, and
around the world.
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march 2015
TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
37
GUNS ‘N STUFF | Harold Gunn
What Was HOT at S.H.O.T 2015
The Browning Citori 725 Sporting 28 Gauge.
This year’s Shooting Hunting Outdoor
Trade Show in Las Vegas, plus the annual
Media Day at the Range at Boulder
City showed off some outstanding new
products.
Since Winchester last introduced a
new bolt-action rifle design a half-century
ago many advances have been made in
metallurgy, materials and manufacturing
processes. Due to the legend of the pre64 Model 70 they had to come up with
something that would pass muster. The
result is the innovative all new XPR boltaction rifle.
The new XPR features the Winchester
M.O.A. Trigger System that is adjustable
and is set at the factory at a crisp 3
½ pounds. The trigger housing and
all internal components in the XPR
rifle’s M.O.A. trigger are constructed
of polished and hardened carbon steel,
with a blued finish for added durability
and corrosion resistance. The receiver is
constructed from chromoly steel barstock
that is precision machined and throughhardened during heat-treating to create
a strong, stiff and solid receiver. The
ejection port has been opened for more
reliable ejection and easier access when
loading single cartridges.
The bolt has a short 60-degree lift for
improved scope clearance when cycling.
The bolt body is coated with Nickel Teflon
for smoother operation and corrosion
resistance. The chromoly steel barrel is
button-rifled for accuracy and is freefloating to eliminate pressure points
and has a recessed target crown. The
Advanced Polymer Stock features textured
The CRKT “No Time Off.”
panels to help improve wet weather
grip and flattened fore-end profile that
improves stability. Other features include
a two-position thumb safety and cocking
indicator, bolt unlock button that allows
the chamber to be unloaded with the
thumb safety in the on-safe position and
a polymer detachable box magazine.
The all-new Winchester XPR Rifle.
38
TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
The new XPR is currently offered in
270 Win and 30-06 calibers with 24” barrel
and 300 Win Mag and 338 Win Mag with
26” barrel length. Metal surfaces are matte
blued to minimize. Weight is 7 -7 ¼ lbs
and the sticker price is a pleasant $549.99.
Browning introduced the Citori 725
in 28 gauge and .410 bore variations. Built
on the 20 gauge frame, these sub-gauges
feature the Fire Lite Mechanical Trigger
System, hammer ejectors, beautiful gloss
oil stocks and steel receivers with silver
nitride finishes. Both come in Field and
Sporting models, with Field models
featuring high relief engraving with
26” or 28” barrels, while the Sporting
models feature gold accented Sporting
engraving with 30”
or 32” barrels. These
beautiful guns are
quick to the shoulder
and rapid on target,
but not too light.
They swing smooth
and are a delight to
shoot.
Browning hit such
a home run with their
1911-.22 they let it
march 2015
Winchester’s Train and Defend ammunition.
grow into the 1911-380. Based on an 85%
scale of the original 1911 design as they
did with the .22, the 1911-380 is the right
size, weight and fit, with the features and
performance of the original 1911 45ACP.
This makes for a carry gun that is familiar
and comfortable to shoot and so flat it is
easy to conceal.
Using dramatically larger limbs,
leaves, bark, branches and other digitally
enhanced natural elements, the new
Break-Up COUNTRY pattern from
Mosey Oak takes sneaky to a new level.
Extensive field testing has resulted in the
development of a revolutionary pattern
that can truly be effective no matter
where, or when, we hunt. The digitally
enhanced pattern features elements
found throughout North America with
depth and shadowing, which make the
pattern adaptable to a number of hunting
situations and light periods throughout
the day.
Perryton, Texas is home to Republic
Forge, who are manufacturing top of
the heap American made Model 1911
pistols. Their website, www.republicforge.
com, allows users to customize their own
pistols. This technology offers dealers
and consumers the opportunity to pick
and choose their preferred 1911 model,
frame and slide colors, sights, grips and
more. They currently offer 10 models
in 5 calibers with awesome choices in
finishes, grips and more. These handguns
are perfection and a more in depth article
is in the near future.
Winchester Ammunition’s Train &
Defend system is designed to provide
threat-stopping power with less recoil to
march 2015
the shooter. The system pairs its rangeready Train rounds with technologydriven Defend rounds, both designed to
limit the recoil felt by the shooter. This
system provides a perfect solution for
new shooters, but a much desired system
for old hands.
The Train rounds have a “T” on
the package. With reduced recoil
characteristics and lead-free primers
they are range ready. In 50-count boxes,
they feature brass shell cases and full metal
jacket bullets. The ballistically-matched
Defend rounds are marked with a “D” in a
20-count package. They are developed for
threat stopping power featuring jacketed
hollow point bullets and nickel-plated
shellcases. The W Train and Defend
system includes the following offerings:
380 ACP, 9mm, 40 S&W and 38 Sp. Rejoice
because they just announced production
of .45 ACP. Again, whether it is Train or
Defend, the bullet weights and velocities
are the same.
Columbia River Knife and Tool
introduced the “No Time Off ” featuring
an IKBS ball bearing pivot system with a
flipper that is both fast and smooth. The
blade is a very beefy modified drop point.
The new innovative ILS safety sets a pin
between the frame and locking liner that
makes all solid and safe. The waffle iron
traction handle makes for a sure grip.
Designer Flavio Ikoma of Presidente
Prudente, Brazil, initially designed the
“No Time Off ” to be a mechanic’s folder.
Super strong at www.crkt.com.
TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
39
Preparing for
Deer Season
...NOW!
Serious decisions combined with some
effort help to enhance the chance at an
outstanding buck.
Story and photography by Bob Zaiglin
40
TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
march 2015
N
ow that the 2014 deer hunting
is whether the landholding they hunt on
one’s lease for another that has a proven
season is over, sportsmen
is capable of yielding the caliber of buck
track record, it more than likely will be
enamored by the pursuit of
they are after, and if not, what can be done
one that has been well managed over a
this iconic species will experience some
to improve it.
long period of time and invariably more
withdrawal symptoms. For some, it’s
The one characteristic that is exuded
expensive.
a time to revisit the grand memories
by all big buck hunters is to hunt where
There are no silver bullets when it
developed over the season. It might be
big deer occur. Obviously, the big buck
comes to optimal antler development. It
that particular night at camp with the
producing regions such as the ‘golden
is a time consuming and most generally
grandchildren roasting marshmallows
triangle’ of South Texas and portions
expensive endeavor that is more of a
over the amber-red mesquite coals, or
of the Panhandle are well known, thus
passion than a job.
the achievement of taking that buck of
it’s not difficult to decide if your piece
So before you bail ship, ask yourself
a lifetime.
of deer turf is within big buck hotspots.
first am I where big deer should exist?
For others it might be the realization
The problem is even within those fabled
And if the answer is yes, figure out what
that their season was like all others,
regions there exists some parcels of land
is missing.
promising much, yet relinquishing little.
that fail to relinquish the quality of antlers
The basic ingredient that must be
March is the time of harboring all
the region is known for.
present is quality habitat. Establish it and
the pleasantries that
they will come, but not
go along with one’s
immediately as it takes
hunting adventures,
time.
but if those
Basic habitat
memories are less
management practices
than desirable, now is
can be employed on
the time period to do
large or small parcels of
something about it.
land, and small parcels
Quality time
of land, say less than
spent with friends
1,000 acres, can actually
and family at camp is
be manipulated more
always memorable as
effectively than larger
they are a big part of
tracts.
the holistic hunting
The regulated
ex p er i en ce . But
grazing by cattle not only
these activities can be
reduces grass turf which
entertained outside
relinquishes room for
the sometimes cold,
forb development, but
dank days of winter.
by hoof action, soil
Most seasoned
disturbance generates
sportsmen measure
even more forage for
their hunting season
deer. The benefit of
by what is harvested.
cattle is only realized
But they also take into
when they are regulated
The impact of expensive heavy equipment can be duplicated on smaller areas with an ax,
account what caliber
on a timely and
saw, or weed whacker.
of deer they allowed
numeric basis, thus the
to walk. In other words, a management For example, your lease or landholding
management of domestic stock must be
oriented hunter may categorize a season
may be contiguous to a huge landholding
considered.
as successful if there were several young
renowned for big deer yet seldom if ever
If cattle are non existent, then it’s
bucks observed that should develop into
is an outstanding deer observed on your
up to man to disturb the soil and its
outstanding deer in the future. They
piece of turf. The answer to this question,
vegetative component. Whenever a plant
simply don’t have to kill a buck in order
based on the thousands of acres I survey
community is disturbed, it reverts to an
to enjoy a successful year.
on an annual basis, is the fact that not all
earlier successional stage, promoting
Howe ver, if those promising
land is created equal, and some areas even
palatable vegetation for deer.
youngsters were not seen, the desire to
within big buck country fail to contain
Most everyone involved in deer
return to the same area the following
the right genetic components or the vital
management either as a professional
season diminishes.
habitat.
or amateur have heard of the positive
Now is the time to prepare for next
The question then reverts to should
impact roller chopping and aerating have
year, and it may require some serious
I relinquish my lease or is there a way to
on various plant communities but they
decisions if not some effort to enhance
make it better?
are also aware of how expensive these
those most cherished memories of at least
Improving one’s landholding is time
implements are.
getting a chance at an outstanding buck.
consuming and sometimes expensive.
To circumvent this expense, one can
The first question one must address
However, if the choice is to relinquish
employ a shredder, a lawn mower, or
march 2015
TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
41
Prescribed fire is the most economical tool
employed to curtail the spread of invasive
species while stimulating the development of
succulents palatable to deer.
42
TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
weed whacker on smaller entities and
realize the same effect. By employing
a weed whacker, one can knock back
the successfional stage of small strips of
vegetation and enjoy the same benefits
the larger, expensive tools have on larger
properties.
One’s objective is to enhance the
habitat to benefit resident deer as well as
attract others onto the property, and in
some cases increase the retention of deer.
Water distribution is also vital. Not
only vital to deer survival, if distributed
correctly, it can disperse browsing
pressure, benefitting both deer and overall
health of the plant community.
Another beneficial technique is to
develop a sanctuary on the property where
habitat manipulation techniques are
concentrated and enhanced by providing
additional water sources along with a
supplement.
Much of the management on a
particular deer herd remains dependent on
harvest. An inadequate harvest can negate
the benefits of habitat enhancement.
Every landholding has a set carrying
capacity that cannot be surpassed without
negatively impacting deer quality. Thus
it’s wise to inventory the population on an
annual basis and remove excess numbers.
By accomplishing an adequate harvest,
not only is more vegetation made available
to deer, it alleviates stress between deer,
which can impact herd health.
When it comes to harvest, one
problem most hunters face is the decision
as to which bucks should be removed.
Initially, the sex ratio should be balanced
by removing surplus doe while allowing
bucks to mature, particularly on low
or conventionally fenced properties.
Sportsmen often fall prey to the concept
that culling bucks is required to improve
a deer herd, but there is no scientific
evidence that it works. In reality, a high
percentage of what most hunters remove
as culls would develop racks at maturity
that would satisfy 85% of the hunters in
the field. Letting young deer enter the
older age classes is the only bonafide
method of developing larger-racked
bucks.
Culling bucks comes into play once
the sex ratio is balanced and minimally
45% of the bucks are mature (four plus
years of age). And even then the removal
of bucks exhibiting less than desirable
antler traits is no guarantee that largerracked males will develop.
The fact is we, and I include myself, are
poor judges as to what should be removed.
In reality, the benefit of culling is actually
a result of relinquishing more food for
the survivors.
Another option to be considered is
supplemental feeding. No doubt time
consuming and expensive, it can be the
difference in developing above average
racked bucks.
But it impacts deer populations
initially by augmenting reproduction,
which means that more effort will
be required to reduce deer numbers.
However, if the population is maintained
at or below carrying capacity, it will
augment antler growth.
The major concern with a pelleted
supplement is the speed in which it passes
through the rumen. The rapid passage
relinquishes little time to absorb all the
essential elements the feed contains.
Roughage in the form of the brush
requires much more time to pass through
the rumen, thus more of its nutrients are
absorbed.
Based on the fact that the rumen is
a muscle, it benefits more from digesting
march 2015
Culling bucks is no silver bullet in augmenting antler size, particularly when most culls, if
allowed to mature, could represent trophy deer to most hunters.
brush than it does from a pellet. It’s the
roughage component that helps sustain a
healthy rumen, making cottonseed a more
march 2015
desirable supplement. Cottonseed is also
seldom utilized by hogs, which eliminates
the construction of additional fencing.
Whole cottonseed contains high
amounts of digestible energy and protein
and moderate amounts of fiber. More
importantly, it does not degrade in moist
conditions and is not readily sought after
by non-target animals.
One potential concern of providing
deer whole cottonseed is the presence
of a natural chemical called gossypol
that has been shown in livestock to
decrease reproductive capability in males.
However, with a diversified food source
on open range, this is not apt to occur.
It remains prudent, however, to curtail
cottonseed distribution minimally five
weeks before the breeding season.
Regardless of one’s effort to improve
the habitat, the ultimate factor in the
development of exceptional-racked
bucks is the age of the animal. Thus
before any management is implemented,
the question as to how many bucks are
harvested on an annual basis and how old
they are must be addressed.
Like I mentioned earlier, nothing
impacts antler size more than age, and it
takes time to develop those outstanding
racks, and the more bucks harvested
generally the longer it takes.
TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
43
For information on guides mentioned, see Guides, Gear & Getaways on pages 67, 69, & 71
Lake Roundup
EAST TEXAS
By Matt Williams
PALESTINE — If you are a bass angler
and have been pondering thoughts of
visiting this East Texas gem, but have yet to
make the trip, now would be a good time
to pull the trigger. According to fishing
guide Ricky Vandergriff, the shallows are
going to be a war zone.
“The spawn is going to be on big time,”
Vandergriff said. “There are going to be a
lot of fish up shallow doing their thing.
It’s a great month for big fish, and the
numbers can be good, too.”
Early in the month, Vandergriff will
spend the majority of his time fishing up
north in the Cade’s Lake, Kickapoo, Old
Folks Playground and Flat Creek areas.
The water is shallower and more protected
from chilly north winds than the deeper
south end, so water temperatures will
warm quicker and attract bass sooner.
Vandergriff says any number of baits
will produce fish throughout the month.
His favorites in descending order are the
Mister Twister Comida, spinnerbait and
a Shimmy Shaker, which is a bladed swim
jig he makes.
“There will be a lot of pre-spawners
still hanging around in the drainages, but
there will also be some fish making beds
on the banks and in the back waters,”
Vandergriff said. “Whether or not you’ll be
able to see them will depend a lot on the
weather. If we get a bunch of rain, it’ll dirty
the water and you’ll pretty much have to
blind cast and cover water.”
Vandergriff said the same patterns
44
TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
will apply down south during the latter
part of the month. He suggests targeting
the backs of major and secondary feeder
creeks. Boathouses will also be a player.
The guide says crappie should be
occupying many of the same areas as the
bass. He suggests going after them using a
slip cork rig matched with a live shiner or
casting a small jig on light tackle.
March also marks the time when the
meat of the white bass will be in progress
up the Neches River. Anglers can access
some sweet spots from the lake, but most
use the ramp off of Highway 31 near
Chandler. Flatbottoms, kayaks and other
small boats are advised.
While the whites will hit assorted baits,
small jigs, Roadrunners and crankbaits
rule. The daily limit is 25 fish, 10 inches,
per angler.
SAM RAYBURN — We saw some big
rains in deep East Texas in January and
the wet weather put lots of water where
it hasn’t been in years. As of this writing
the big lake east of Lufkin had climbed to
nearly half a foot above normal, flooding
buck brush and willow bushes with as
much as three feet of water in places.
“We haven’t seen that in a long time,”
said local pro and fishing guide Stephen
Johnston. “If the rains keep coming there
could be water around the pine trees by
the time March gets here.”
According to Johnston, high water
during the spring will put water so far
back into the bushes that it will enable
the bass to access backwaters so thick
with brush that it will make it next to
impossible to get to them in a bass boat.
This will afford the fish the opportunity
to spawn with very little fishing pressure.”
“This could wind up being one of
those years that is real good for the fish,
but not so good for the fishermen,” he
said. “We’ll just have to see what happens.”
Fishing for bass in or around flooded
bushes is fun, but it also can be challenging.
That’s because it is tight quarters fishing
where accuracy with bait placement is a
virtue.
Flipping with weedless creatures or jigs
is good way to fish the bushes. The trick
is to cover lots of water and to get baits
in tight around the bases of large willows
or in thick clumps of buck brush. Bushes
that are situated on points or along side a
channel break are a good bet.
Johnston says anglers also will be able
to catch fish casting lipless crankbaits,
spinnerbaits, Senkos and jerk baits around
submerged grass beds on flats well as main
lake and secondary points. There also will
be groups of pre-spawners staged along
creeks and drainages at mid-range depths
waiting to make their moves towards the
shallows around the next full moon on
April 4.
If you like fun fishing, now is a good
time to head up the Angelina River. The
white bass run should be going full swing
as we speak.
If you are not familiar the backwoods
access points off FM 1275, the best spot
to launch is the Angelina River bridge
crossing on U.S. 59 between Lufkin and
Nacogdoches. This is close quarters
fishing with lots of brush and log jams in
places, so leave the bass rig at home and
stick with a flatbottom boat or canoe.
TOLEDO BEND — If this March is like
most, there will be armies of bass finning
around in skinny water or setting up in
staging areas along channels and ditches
getting ready to go skinny as the spawning
season approaches. According to fishing
guide Stephen Johnston, there should be
bass to be caught in water as shallow as
six inches or as deep as 10 feet.
Anglers can look for a big wave of fish
to move shallow up north around the next
full moon, which falls on March 5. Farther
south, the first major move may not occur
until the April 4 full moon.
Keep in mind, this is taking into
consideration normal weather conditions.
If February turned off abnormally cold
it could push things back a bit. If it was
warm, things could start happening
sooner.
Johnston says anglers should be able
to catch fish using a wide variety of
techniques and baits. For shallow fish, he
recommends throwing a wacky worm,
Senko or Texas rigged lizard around
flooded hay grass and other shallow
cover. Sight fishing also could come into
march 2015
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play in some areas provided there has
Assorted lures will work, but some
will probably get you a whole lot more.
been enough sunshine to warm water
produce consistently better results than
If the water is clear, sight fishing also
temperatures sufficiently to coax fish
others. In early March, when the fish are in
could come into play. But as a rule it is not
onto beds.
a pre-spawn mode, it is hard to go wrong
a very promising tactic day in and day out.
For staging fish, Johnston suggests
with a sub-surface bait that penetrates the
Just about any shoreline will hold bass
throwing a suspending jerk bait, jig, a
water column two to four feet beneath
this month, but some of the better areas
Strike King crankbait or Strike Pro Big
the surface.
will be found towards the rear of major
Bubba or slow-rolling a spinnerbait.
One of the best to evolve in recent
and secondary creeks such as Big Loco,
He pointed out that pre-spawn bass are
times is the umbrella rig matched with
Little Loco and Yellow Bank.
prone to stage in groups. Where
Anglers should
you catch one, there are likely to
remember Lake
be others.
Na c o g d o c h e s h a s a
On a different note, the
restrictive 16 inch
white bass run should still be
maximum length limit
going strong when March rolls
on largemouth bass. You
around. Anglers can launch at
can retain five fish per day
any number of places, but ramps
under 16 inches but all
at Deadwood and River Ridge
others must be released,
will put you right in the middle
unless it is a potential
of the fish.
ShareLunker candidate.
The white bass fishing on
CO NR O E — L a k e
the Sabine is world class. The
Conroe was at pool level
river produces plenty of thickand in good shape as of
shouldered whites weighing
this writing. According to
upwards of three pounds and
fishing guide Butch Terpe,
they will hit an assortment of
things are setting up nicely
baits including small spinners,
for some outstanding
Roadrunners and crankbaits.
springtime fishing.
Live crawfish fished on open
“March is a great time
to come to Conroe,” Terpe
sandbars using a bell weight also
said. “There’s going to be a
can be killer.
bunch of bass holding in
Cr a p p i e ? Acco rd i n g to
shallow water, and there
Johnston, there should be plenty
will be some big ones up
of fish gravitating towards the
there, too.”
shallows to spawn. He suggests
Early in the month,
looking for them in the backs of
Terpe suggests targeting
creeks in water ranging one to
bridge rock and other
four feet deep using Roadrunners
hard stuff around the
and small jigs.
bank using plastics, square
“Just remember the water
bill crankbaits and lipless
needs to be clear,” he said.
Photo courtesy Richard Jue
crankbaits. He says rock
“Muddy water will screw the
Look for Conroe to give up steady limits of one to three pound catfish in
soaks up sunlight and
crappie fishing up big time.”
March.
displaces heat that can
NACOGDOCHES — If lakes
warm water temperatures a degree or
could burn, Lake Nacogdoches would
series of small swim baits. For best
two. That can be super attractive to bass
likely be on fire this month. Translation:
results work it over shallow grass flats,
in spring, especially early on when the fish
If you wanna’ get bit, there may not be a
on main lake and secondary points and
first start moving up.
better place to wet a hook.
along channel breaks in four to eight feet
Once the spawn gets underway, the
The water level jumped as high as
of water. Other good choices include a
18 inches above normal in late January.
guide will look to the backs of secondary
lipless crankbait, square bill crankbait,
Depending on what weather did in late
and major creeks where he will fan cast
suspending jerk bait, swim jig, spinnerbait
February, anglers can expect to see a
around shoreline cover using a Senko,
and Chatterbait.
normal-or-slightly-above water level and
Fluke or Texas rigged lizard or craw
Once the fish lock on beds is when
stained-to-muddy conditions in early
matched with a light sinker. He says the
you’ll need to use some discipline and
March.
lake’s upper reaches will warm up faster
slow things down. Moving baits might still
Regardless, bass are likely to be in a
than the lower end, because the water is
produce a few bites, but Senkos, Flukes,
spawning mode or real close to it. For that
shallower and more protected.
Texas rig lizards and other baits designed
reason anglers are sure to find the most
to be bumped across bottom or creeped
Terpe said there are several areas in
takers in water ranging 0-10 feet in depth.
through water column at a turtle’s pace
the vicinity of the National Forest that
should be holding good numbers of bass
early in the month. He suggests probing
the shallows around old brush, bushes
and weeds that sprouted back when the
lake was low.
As the month progresses, spawning
activity will slowly move southward.
Follow the same approach and you should
stand a good chance catching fish out of
skinny water all month long. If the water
is clear enough, Terpe suggests giving sight
fishing a try.
“I really enjoy it — it’s a fun way to
fish,” he said. “Even if you don’t catch
every fish you see, it’s still fun watching
how they react when you bring the bait
around their nest. Every one of them is
different.
The guide said March also produces
steady limits of one to three pound
channel cat with an occasional blue cat.
He likes to target whiskered fish around
baited holes using punch bait or dips baits
placed on a sponge hook. The FM 1097
bridge always produces good results, as
does the San Jacinto River channel. Best
depth range is 20 feet.
LIVINGSTON — Lake Livingston
jumped to about 10 inches above full
pool in late January and the water clarity
up north was poor. Depending on what
happens in February, bass anglers could
be looking at a off-color fishing situation
by the time March rolls around.
According to fishing guide Randy
Dearman of Onalaska, dirty water on
Livingston is never a good thing in early
spring. Keep that in mind when planning
a trip. If Livingston is a muddy mess,
Dearman says it might be a wise move to
look elsewhere for a place to soak your
baits.
According to Dearman, the best place
to find clear water is in the backs creeks,
ditches and small cuts that are located in
areas that are somewhat protected from
heavy runoff that flows down the Trinity
River after a major downpour..
“The Trinity can mud things up in
hurry after a big rain,” Dearman said. “But
there are isolated pockets and canals that
usually clear up ahead of everything else.
Those are the types of places I look for
this time of year.”
Some of the best spawning areas will
be shallower than two feet. Dearman
suggests moving into these areas as quietly
as possible to avoid spooking the fish. He
uses a push pole a lot this time of year.
46
march 2015
TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
march 2015
“It’s work, but it allows you stay off of
the trolling motor,” he explained. “This
helps prevent spooking the fish before
you realize they are there.” Dearman says
the earliest spawning activity on the lake
always gets underway in creeks and wind
protected pockets north of the Highway
190 bridge. White Rock and Harmon are
two of Dearman’s longtime favorites. He
also likes Carolina, Caney and Palmetto.
“Just about any creek up and down
the lake can be good, but the water always
warms up the soonest on the lake’s north
end,” Dearman said. “It’s shallower up
there, and shallow water always warms
the quickest.”
March also is a great time to get a taste
of some of the best white bass fishing on
the Trinity River upstream for Livingston.
That’s where armies of white bass go to
partake in their annual spawning run
every February and March. You can get
up-to-date reports on river flows, and
the fishing, by contacting Lock-n-Dam
Marina and bait shop at (936) 536-2248
or lockndam.com.
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TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
47
LAKE FORK — I am starting with
Lake Fork this month for a couple of
reasons. First, all of us would like to
congratulate our regular source for Lake
Fork information, guide Mark Stevenson,
on his induction into the Freshwater
Fishing Hall of Fame. This honor is long
overdue in my opinion, and you can read
more about his induction in the issue.
Congratulations Mark. You deserve it!
Second, Lake Fork will be one of the
top two or three (if not the
number one) destinations
for the bass fisherman, as it
is every spring. Fishermen
from around the country, and
the world, descend on Fork
every year in March looking
for that elusive trophy bass
of a lifetime. And many will
succeed in their quest. We
asked Mark Stevenson to help
us help anglers achieve their
goal this spring.
Red ‘traps in the spring are
a staple at Fork, “Early March
is pre-spawn on Fork,” said
Stevenson. “Use a medium to
medium heavy rod with a fast
tip, a 6:1 reel spooled with 20
pound fluorocarbon line.
“Tie on a ’Trap or Cordell
Spot and work the points
back into the little cuts and
the creeks,” he explained.
“You are trying to cover a lot
of water. The trap is the finest
search bait made.”
During the pre-spawn
period, little fish will go Here are a few springtime lipless crankbaits in various shades of red — (clockwise from upper left) —Rat-L-Trap
back first then the bigger
mini, Bass Pro Shops XTS Rattle Shad, Livingston Lures Pro Ripper, Rat-L-Trap standard size and in the center a
ones show up. In addition
Rat-L-Trap Magnum.
submerged vegetation to provide cover
for baitfish and bass alike. Vegetation that
can be fished on a reliable basis, a stable
pattern if you will.
So what is the angler to do at Purtis
Creek? Well, the big fish are still there
and they still come shallow to spawn in
the spring. Look to deeper structure as the
key holding area for bass before they move
up shallow. For reference here, deep is over
eight feet and shallow is less than four feet.
The area where the boat ramp is
located has a fishing pier. Between the pier
and the dam is a cove containing an old
brood pond. The water in the main lake
at this area, given normal lake levels, is
about 20 feet deep. The pond dam comes
up to eight feet or so, then drops again to
about 10 or 12 feet. This is a great place
to throw Carolina rigs, ‘Traps, diving
crankbaits and jigs.
The Carolina rig can be thrown over
the dam into the main lake. Put your boat
on the shallow side of the dam, make a
long cast and retrieve your bait to the
base of the dam, up the face and into the
pond. Jig fishermen can do the same. The
‘Trap can be used along the banks inside
the pond itself, while the diving crankbaits
can be used parallel to the dam face, on
the deep side.
This cove is also one of the first places
to warm in the spring and one of the first
places you will see cruising bass and beds
being made. Spinnerbaits will work along
with the ‘Trap for aggressive fish, while a
jig or Texas-rigged lizard will catch those
fish in the two to four foot range.
Spinnerbait colors for me are white,
chartreuse or a combination of the two,
and red/black. Jigs will be black/blue,
white on white, or green pumpkin and
chartreuse. ‘Traps can be blue/chrome,
black/chrome or red. If this area is not
working go to the northwest corner of the
lake and work the same baits around the
creeks leading into the little coves there.
CEDAR CREEK — Crappie guide Chuck
Rollins has been on this lake for many
years, and he really knows the crappie
habits. For March fishing he recommends
going shallow.
“We spend most of our time in March
fishing between one and four to six feet
of water,” he began. “We rarely fish over
8 feet deep. Our go-to bait is a 1/16oz. or
1/8 oz. jighead with a soft plastic body
by Constant Pursuit Outfitters, or a Slab
Bandit from Crazy Angler online. The
48
march 2015
NORTH TEXAS
By Brian Hughes
TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
to the lipless crankbaits, try the jerkbait,
spinnerbait, Senko, Texas rigged lizard and
then a jig in that order.
Marks’ favorite way to catch big fish is
with a 3/8 jig, with a bulky trailer to slow
the fall, hopping and swimming the bait.
“You may not get as many bites but they
will be quality,” he said.
If you don’t like fishing slow, keep
working the ‘trap. “It’s still a magic bait
on this lake,” says Stevenson. “Back up
the ‘trap with a spinnerbait, they’ll both
catch big fish!”
Another big fish tactic for bright calm
days is the Senko or Hyper Stik, rigged
weightless. Fish it on 20 pound line
minimum. “They’ll bite, and swim away
before you know it, headed for cover,” he
stated. “You need that strong line to turn
‘em back to the boat.” Mark uses a 4/0 or
5/0 hook for this tactic. Colors include
black/blue laminate and green pumpkin
with cotton candy flake.
One of his everyday rigs is a miniCarolina rigged Kreature on an 18 inch
leader and ¼ -5/16 oz. weight. And just
to be different, every now and then try
bubble gum and Merthiolate colors. “On
the days they are working these colors
are pure dynamite on bass at Lake Fork.”
PURTIS CREEK — I first started fishing
Purtis about four months after it opened.
It looked for all the world like a miniature
Lake Fork. Lots of timber and hydrilla
everywhere, and very clear water.
The first few times I fished the lake you
could throw just about anything and catch
fish. I would bet you could put a hook on
a church key and catch a five-pound bass
on it in no time. That was the other draw,
four to six pound bass were easy to catch,
and if you put in the time, a 10 pounder
was a reasonable ask. Things have changed
in the 30 years since those days. Gone is
much of the timber above the waterline.
Gone is all of the grass. Texas Parks &
Wildlife Department put in grass carp
several years ago to control the spread of
hydrilla and other invasive water weeds.
This the carp did in smart fashion. Now
you’ll see some flooded brush and grasses
if the water level is up but not much else.
TPWD has begun a project to plant
native grasses into the lake but that will
take several years to provide the results
fishermen are looking for, namely enough
march 2015
best colors are greens, yellows and whites.”
Sandies and hybrids will be a popular
choice during March, especially with the
spring break crowd. “We have a lot of
folks with summer homes on the lake and
they usually show up for the first time
each season at spring break,” said Rollins.
“The sand bass and hybrid stripers are
fairly easy to catch, even if you’re not an
experienced angler.”
That said, there are some tricks to
know. “The birds will locate schools of
fish for you, but the fish will be 15-25 feet
deep in 20-40 foot of water,” he explained.
“The most common mistake is for people
to see the gulls working and throw lipless
crankbaits, or even topwaters thinking the
fish will be on top.”
But the guys at bigcrappie.com know
better and they will go deeper to catch the
fish. “There are really two choices,” advises
Rollins. “Either vertical fishing straight
down from directly above the school, or
casting a Sassy Shad.” They rig the plastic
body on a ¾ ounce jighead, make a long
cast and count down the bait to the middle
of the school. A slow retrieve through the
school catches the fish. Obviously we rely
on our electronics to determine the depth
we will fish.”
Catfish begin to move up onto points
in late March. Use cut shad and work the
points from two to three feet deep on out
until you locate the fish. This will also
catch some hybrids and sandies as well.
One final note. Cedar Creek is a very
shallow lake overall. As of this writing the
lake was six feet low and many ramps are
unusable. The Log Cabin ramp will be
your best bet.
CADDO — Guide Paul Keith on Caddo
has a unique situation for Texas lakes right
now, Caddo is full and the fishing should
be excellent.
“We will look to the Cypress trees in
March,” said Keith. “One to three feet
of water in the trees, with underwater
hydrilla is perfect.”
To catch the Caddo bass he’ll use a
Senko or V&M Pork Shad, Texas rigged
and weightless. Another approach is a
light weight with a V&M 6 ½” Lizzie
lizard. For those that like to pitch and flip,
the 1/2 ounde jig or a 3/8 ounce Kreature
will do the trick. “My favorite colors
include watermelon/red, black/blue and
June Bug,” he says.
“Another good plan is to cover a lot of
water with ½ ounce Lightnin’ Blade and
a ½ ounce V&M SWIM JIG around the
tress at creek edges,” suggested Paul. “You
can also use a spinnerbait as a search bait.
When you catch a few, slow down and go
back over the area with soft plastics.”
It is Texas, and it is spring so some
anglers will go to open water and throw
red traps over the grass and old pad stems.
Be sure you have adequate line for this
approach.
RAY HUBBARD — Guide Johnny
Procell predicts March could be fantastic.
“It’s been the best winter I’ve seen in a
long time,” he said. “If this holds, and it
should, bass will move up to the railroad
tracks in the Miller arm of the lake. Fish a
Senko or jerkbait that sinks slowly, about
a foot per second.”
This area is protected on two sides
from the wind and if the rest of the lake
is 52 to 54 degrees this area will be 56 to
58 and that’s the magic number. “The bass
really begin to move at 58 degrees,” said
Procell. “It is shallow here, only five to six
feet deep, and the fish will be in one to
two feet of water. Fish the riprap with a
¼ ounce white double willow-leaf bladed
spinnerbait.”
His second location choice for bass
would be as far north as you can go on
the Highway 66 side of the lake. “Fish the
levee at the old bridge, marked by a rock
outcropping, with those same baits,” he
said. Hybrids and sandies will be found
at Rowlett Creek, at the Chaha Road/
Bass Pro Drive area, moving up the creek
if they can.
Because of this, bank fishing will also
be good here. “Fish right in front of Bass
Pro to Robertson Park,” said Johnny, “As
shallow as five feet, and as deep as 25 feet,
depending on temperature.”
The big cove below Chandlers Landing
is protected from south wind and fish will
be chasing shad and maybe spawning
there by the end of the month. Use shallow
running cranks and look for the birds.
Catfish will also be active at Miller
road. “Use prepared baits and a quill float,
because the bite is light and the fish are
sensitive, they’ll feel other kind of floats
and release the bait,” says the seasoned
guide
Crappie will be on boat sheds in
Harbor Bay area. Standard baits apply,
such as minnows, grubs and jigs. Near
the very end of the month try Yankee
creek. It has brush and logs as cover. Use
a Roadrunner on six pound test line.
TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
49
Spring Break
on
SOUTH
PADRE
Story and photography by Danno Wise
F
or most people, March means
one thing on South Padre Island
— Spring Break. This tiny sliver
of sand just north of the Mexico border
has long drawn college students from
across the nation to celebrate this annual
spring rite.
But, while people pile to capacity
on top of this well developed sand bar,
50
TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
the year. Throughout March and April,
anglers can expect regular limits of fish
over 20-inches, with plenty of two-footplus trout sprinkled in to keep things
interested. It is, undoubtedly, some of the
best action to be had on “solid” specks.
And, although true trophy trout aren’t
mixed in all that often, there is always the
possibility.
Most of the trout action is located in
an area on the west side of the Intracoastal
Waterway. Basically, the area runs from
just above the Queen Isabella Memorial
Bridge, along the ICW to the south end
of Long Bar. From there, it cuts across the
open bay to the western shore and back
down to the town of Port Isabel.
Within this section of the Lower
Laguna Madre is a number of bars,
channels, guts and drop-offs, all of which
have the potential to hold fish during the
spring.
Of the fish-holding features in this
area, the ICW spoils are probably the
best known and are certainly the easiest
to locate. Community Bar and Long Bar
have long been popular spots. But, there
are dozens of unnamed spoils on both the
channel side, as well as on the backside
Sub-tropical weather means conditions warm more quickly and that triggers flounder to make
their spring run back in to the Laguna Madre.
Low boat traffic and active fish plus
a variety of historic and natural
attractions make this a diverse
spring destination.
the waters of the Lower Laguna Madre,
which separate South Padre Island from
the mainland, are nearly devoid of traffic.
During March, spring fishing in the
Lower Laguna Madre is beginning to
explode. This combination of low boat
traffic and plenty of active fish make
South Padre Island and neighboring Port
Isabel the ideal Spring Break destination
for serious inshore fishermen.
EASY FISHING
Spring Break falls right during the time
when trout begin to cover up the bars and
fill the potholes in the portion of water in
front of the town of Port Isabel – a period
locals usually refer to as when the trout
are “out front.” This is actually one of the
best periods of speckled trout fishing of
march 2015
From the bars and spoil islands of the Lower Laguna Madre, spring is a great time to catch
numbers of over 20 inch speckled trout with some even bigger fish mixed in.
march 2015
(west) of the main spoil banks, which can
be just as productive and don’t generally
draw much attention.
The spoils which are submerged two to
four feet below the water may be holding
fish on top or alongside. The main spoil
line slopes toward deeper water to the
west. These grass covered flats step or drop
one to two feet every few hundred yards
until a maximum depth of around eight
feet is reached.
Fish will move up and down these grass
covered flats and drops based on weather
conditions and water temperatures.
Another bonus — especially during spring
— is the water behind the spoils is usually
somewhat protected on windy days.
Submarine Bar, a shallow, grass
covered bar abruptly rises in the middle
of this deep water flat. Submarine Bar
generally offers excellent speckled trout
fishing during spring. However, since it
is located quite literally in the middle
of the bay, it gets quite rough when the
wind kicks up. But, on those relatively
rare spring days when the wind is light to
moderate, Submarine Bar is usually the
place to be for quick limits of thick-sided
specks.
TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
51
To the south of Submarine, the PI
Small Boat Channel, which extends
directly out into the bay from Port
Isabel, is lined with a number of grassy
bars. Many of these bars
have steep faces, dropping
suddenly into deep water.
On cooler days, anglers can
do really well deadsticking
baits along the face of these
bars.
For fishermen leaving
out of South Padre Island, they can find
pretty hot action right behind the city of
SPI. These flats behind, which include the
area known as The Pasture, as well as The
Convention Center Flats, the flats behind
The Shores Subdivision and the area south
of Gas Well Flats provide anglers good
buildings on South Padre Island provide a
wind break from the prevailing southeast
spring winds, giving anglers somewhat
protected waters on some of the spring’s
windiest days.
For fishermen leaving out of South
Padre Island, they can find pretty hot
action right behind the city.
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TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
fishing for both speckled trout and redfish
without the inconvenience of a long boat
ride. Additionally, the high dunes and
WHAT ELSE TO DO WHILE
VISITING
Of course, most people
on a Spring Break vacation
want something to do in
the off-water hours. While
there will be plenty of clubs
and concerts to keep the younger spring
break crowd occupied in the evenings,
most fishermen and their families prefer
to take in some of the areas more subdued
attractions.
On the mainland side is the area’s
most iconic attraction — the Point Isabel
Lighthouse. Originally built in 1852 to
help guide ships from the Gulf of Mexico
through the Brazos Santiago Pass to the
shores of Port Isabel, the Point Isabel Light
went into service in 1853. Although the
structure itself is only 57 feet, it sits atop
a 25-foot high bluff, giving the light a total
height of over 80 feet.
Adjacent to the Lighthouse are
the Museums of Port Isabel. The two
museums that, along with the Point Isabel
Lighthouse, comprise the Museums of
Port Isabel are the Historic Port Isabel
Museum and the Treasures of the Gulf
Museum.
The Historic Port Isabel Museum
showcases the area’s history from Native
American times to modern day and is
housed in the Champion Building, which
was originally built as a dry goods store in
1899. A unique feature of the Champion
Building is its “fish mural facade” which
has been fully restored.
The Treasures of the Gulf Museum
features the three Spanish shipwrecks of
1554, which occurred in the nearshore
waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Relics
from these shipwrecks and other “Gulf
treasures” are on display at the Treasures
of the Gulf Museum.
The Lighthouse is surrounded by
a group of refurbished old buildings
housing a variety of shops and restaurants
known as the “Lighthouse Square.” The
SPI Nature Center is also located in this
old town square.
For those wanting to spend some nonfishing time on the water, they can take
a cruise on the Black Dragon, a replica
pirate ship that sails daily on the Lower
march 2015
Laguna with a crew full of “pirates” that
perform for visitors during the tour.
Other birding, dolphin watch and sightseeing tours are available from a variety of
locations throughout Port Isabel as well.
Across the bay, South Padre’s iconic
beach draws plenty of attention from
visitors of all ages. And, even with the
Spring Break commotion, there is no
shortage of activities for beachgoers
— take a stroll, collect seashells, watch
dolphins swim in the surf, walk out on
jetties, go boogie boarding, view sea turtle
nests or just lie down and read a book.
Since SPI is such a narrow island, every
condo and hotel is within walking distance
to the beach. But, during Spring Break, if
one wants to avoid the crowds, it is best
to drive up to the beaches north of town.
Also on the north end of the Island is
the SPI Birding and Nature Center. With
over 4,800 linear feet of boardwalk and
nature trail feet of boardwalk that skirts
the shallow estuary and tidal flats, the
SPIBNC offers a great place to view the
diverse wildlife that lives along the shores
of the Lower Laguna Madre.
The center also features seven bird
blinds, a five-story viewing tower, an
auditorium showing a short film about
the flora and fauna of the South Padre
Island and a nature gift shop. The anchor
location for World Birding Center’s
network of nine birding sites in the Rio
Grande Valley, the SPI Birding and Nature
Center offers visitors 50-acres from which
to view dozens of bird species, including
Roseate Spoonbill, Peregrine Falcon,
Osprey and Ruddy Turnstone.
Just down the road from the SPI
Birding and Nature Center is Sea Turtle
Inc. Founded in 1977 by the legendary
“Sea Turtle Lady” Ila Loetscher to aid in
the recovery of the endangered Kemp’s
Ridley sea turtle, Sea Turtle Inc now
assists in the rescue and rehabilitation
of all species of sea turtle and offers
educational programs and tours at their
turtle rehabilitation facility.
In addition, there are several services
offering dolphin watches, parasailing,
sunset cruises, jet ski rentals and more
along the length of South Padre Island.
book a place on bay with a slip – that
more or less takes vehicle traffic out of
the equation for much of the visit. But,
be warned, sound is an issue as music is
usually pumping from noon through the
early morning hours.
If staying in Port Isabel, you’ll usually
be okay if you avoid Hwy 100 during busy
periods. Again, renting a place with a slip
makes it easy, but it is possible to make it
to the ramp and back without much traffic
by making an early morning entrance and
midday exit from the water.
Overall, the Spring Break crowd is
really deceptive in that it does not affect
fishing one bit. Actually, if anything, it
helps fishing because the reputation of
Spring Break causes so many fishermen
to stay away that fishing pressure on the
Lower Laguna Madre during March is
minimal.
Those who are willing to deal with the
onshore crowds — and pay the Spring
break room rates — will be rewarded
with a bay full of active fish and devoid
of fishermen.
DEALING WITH THE CROWD
Spring Break crowds are not evenly
distributed. Texas Week is undoubtedly
the busiest time. But, even then, there
usually is bad traffic during the morning
hours. If staying on the Island, try to
march 2015
TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
53
fish its name.
The scene was euphoric as beauty
surrounded rushing, white water that
foamed as it weathered away at the stones
it flowed over, winding itself through the
trees and hills of the Ouachita Mountains.
As if this weren’t enough for a person
to take in, hungry rainbow trout were
everywhere. For the next three days the
Lower Mountain Fork River in Beavers
Bend State Resort Park, just six miles
north of Broken Bow, Oklahoma, began
to feel more and more like home.
Back in January of 2014 when my
wife and I were asked to go to Broken
Bow with some friends, I honestly knew
nothing about the destination other than
that it was about six hour drive from our
southeast Houston residence. Doing a
little research we found that there was
plenty to do and see, most of which
revolved around the outdoors. Hiking,
fishing, and scenic drives were all in store.
We rented a log-style cabin with luxurious
amenities just north of town, and spent
three days trout fishing and taking in all
that this unique location had to offer in
and around Beavers Bend State Resort
Park. Three days proved to be too short,
TRAVELING TEXANS
BREAK THE MOLD IN
as this is definitely a place to visit for the
travelling outdoor Texan.
Planning a Broken Bow Adventure
Broken Bow is 337 miles from
Houston and right around 200 miles from
the Dallas-Fort Worth area, making it a
premier and convenient Texan destination.
Spring is an excellent time to venture here.
Fishing can be good year round, but
the peak trout fishing season runs from
about mid February through April and
into the beginning of May. During this
time, air temperatures are fairly mild with
highs into the 60s and low 70s, and water
temperatures in the river have warmed
some making fish less lethargic. Broken
Bow sees summer temperatures soar
into the 90s which would make for some
steamy, uncomfortable hikes through the
hills. Spring is definitely the time to go.
When it comes to finding a place
to stay, there are several rental options
in the Broken Bow area, most of which
are log-cabin style properties with the
finest amenities, including full kitchens,
barbecue pits, outdoor fire pits and
fire places, and outdoor hot tubs to
name a few. Cabins are available within
Beavers Bend State Resort Park, and
In the foothills of the Ouachita Mountains in southeast Oklahoma
lies a paradise of breathtaking scenery and one of the finest trout
fisheries west of Arkansas.
Story and photography by Nate Skinner
T
he cool air rising from the
rushing water was a new feeling
that felt almost as foreign as
the light spinning tackle I toted along on
the hike. Winding trails through the trees
made for a leisurely walk down to the
riverbank, as we scouted for an eddy or
pool amidst the flowing river that might
be holding a few trout.
Approaching an area just past a bend
that held some calm water, I couldn’t help
but laugh as I prepared to fish this stretch
of the river. Here I was donning the same
gear as I would back home at this time of
year—breathable waders, a lightweight
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TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
wading jacket, and polarized sunglasses.
However, I was a long, long way from
saltwater — nearly four hundred miles
away from Galveston Bay and my Texas
home to be exact.
A flick of the wrist sent a pink and
green rooster tail with a gold spinner into
the pool near the opposite bank, where I
could already see several rainbows lurking
in the break from rushing water. The small
spinner had caught my eye at the local fly
shop, it just looked good to me, not to
mention the added, “oh yea, that’s a good
choice,” from the shop’s clerk, sold me on
the small bait. I remember thinking, “How
am I going to cast something this tiny?”
Later I would thank God for the invention
of light spinning gear.
The trout apparently liked the rooster
tail too, as one turned and engulfed the
tiny offering on my third cast. The fish
couldn’t have been more than thirteen
inches in length, but quickly proved to be
every bit worthy of the eight pound test
that now pulled against it, as several runs
of the drag in the swift water made for a
sporting fight before the colorful creature
finally came to hand. The reds, silvers, and
greens that radiated and shimmered from
the sides of the bow rightfully earned the
march 2015
Light spinning tackle or flyrods are a perfect match for the rainbow and brown trout that inhabit these waters.
march 2015
TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
55
outside the park just a few miles north of
Broken Bow. We rented a cabin through
Brokenbowcabinlodging.com.
The city of Broken Bow has a
Walmart, as well as other local grocery
and convenience stores. Packing food for
a stay at one of the area’s cabins is a great
idea, but there are several area restaurant
options for dining out as well.
Oklahoma License and River
Zone Regulations
A non-resident Oklahoma fishing
license can be purchased online through
the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife
Conservation at www.wildlifedepartment.com/license.htm. A three-dollar
convenience fee is charged.
Purchasing a license from the Walmart in Broken Bow is another option.
The store is open 24 hours and can
process the request in a timely fashion.
Licenses can also be purchase directly
from the Oklahoma Department of
Wildlife Conservation by calling (405)
521-3852.
A non-resident Oklahoma fishing
license costs $15.00 per day, or a six-day
license is available for $35.00. An annual
non-resident fishing license costs $55.00
and expires at the end of the calendar
year it is issued.
Zone Regulations on the River
The 12 mile stretch of the Lower
Mountain Fork River is divided into
three zones. These zones are categorized
as either blue or red areas, and are clearly
marked by signs along their entrance,
and maps of these zones can be found
on-line at: www.beaversbend.com/fishing.html or beaversbendflyshop.com/
river.html.
In a blue zone use of bait and barbed
hooks is permitted. The daily bag limit
for rainbow trout is six per person with
no size limit in a blue zone.
In a red zone the use of bait or barbed
hooks is prohibited, and fishing is restricted to barbless hooks on artificial
flies and lures only. The daily bag limit
for rainbow trout is one per person,
with a size minimum requirement of
20 inches.
The bag limit for brown trout along
the entire length of the Lower Mountain
For River is one per person with a size
minimum requirement of 20 inches.
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TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
A pink and green Rooster tail with a gold spinner proved to be a hot bait as evident by this nice
trout caught by the author on a trip to Broken Bow.
Fishing the Lower Mountain Fork
Rivers Fly Shop is located on the northern
River edge of Broken Bow, and Beavers Bend Fly
The Lower Mountain Fork River
Shop is located inside Beavers Bend State
is a 12 mile designated trout stream in
Resort Park.
Oklahoma that flows below the dam at
Light spinning or fly tackle are the
the spillway on the south end of Broken
preferred means of targeting trout within
Bow Lake, which was created by the
the Lower Mountain Fork River. Small
United States Army Corps of Engineers
jigs and spinners work well with six to 10
through the damming of the Mountain
pound test line on spinning tackle, and
Fork River. According to the Oklahoma
fly imitations matching the latest hatch
Department of Wildlife Conservation, the
along the river paired with a nine foot,
Lower Mountain Fork River is restocked
five-weight fly rod will also do the trick.
every two weeks on Thursdays, and
Clerks in one of the two local fly shops will
thousands of rainbow and brown trout
have plenty of advice as to the hot baits
inhabit the river each year. Of this 12
and flies per the time of year. Natural
mile stretch of trout stream, about five
baits like night crawlers and Power Bait
miles lie within Beavers Bend State Resort
dough or chunks rigged under a clear float
Park. Entrance to Beavers Bend is free and
unlimited access
to the Lower
Mountain Fork
River is available
within the park,
however, nonresidents must
purchase a nonresident fishing
license in order to
fish the river.
Visiting one
of the two local
fly shops north
of Broken Bow
is a great way to
find out the latest
trends as to what
fish are biting,
a n d a re g re a t
places to pick
The Lower Mountain Fork River is divided into Red and Blue Zones. The
Red Zone prohibits bait or barbed hooks while the Blue Zone allows bait
up tackle, flies,
and barbed hooks.
and lures. Three
march 2015
The author and his wife Emily found some relatively “close-to-home” mountain magic while fishing the Lower Mountain Fork River in southeast
Oklahoma.
or bobber is another proven method for
catching a few trout in the river.
Some other gear items to remember
when preparing to fish the Lower
Mountain Fork River include waders,
felt bottomed wading boots, and a light
wading jacket.
Although the river can be fished from
the bank, waders allow for anglers to
get into the water to land fish and helps
to increase coverage of the river. Being
confined to the bank limits the amount
of water than can be fished.
Wading boots with felt soles make
walking over the smooth, wet rocks along
the riverbank and bottom much easier
and safer. A light jacket also protects
anglers in case they do accidently stumble
by preventing them from getting soaking
wet, and also makes fishing amongst the
cool mountain breezes more comfortable.
The saying “Freshwater is for drinking,
saltwater is for fishing,” has been a long
time favorite of mine. Growing up on
the Upper Texas Coast I’ve had little desire
to venture into the world of freshwater
march 2015
angling. Broken Bow changed that for
me, and it wasn’t just the fish that did
it. To say this place is beautiful is a sheer
understatement. It’s breathtaking and
magical, and is a paradise for any lover
of things outdoors. Take the trip, make
the adventure, and break the mold in
a place Texans are finding as a fun and
exciting getaway—experience Broken
Bow, Oklahoma.
Trails wind their way through the foothills to the trout-teeming rivers edge.
TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
57
For information on guides mentioned, see Guides, Gear & Getaways on pages 67, 69, & 71
CoastWatch
Danno Wise
the casual crowd
stays onshore.
T h e ke y to
being successful
under windy
co n d i t i o n s i n
March is having
a plan to work
around the wind
— or even use it to
your advantage.
For many anglers,
that game plan
involves getting
out of the boat
and wading for
big trout. By
getting in the
Photo by Capt. Gencho Buitureira
water, fishermen
Around lower coast bridge pilings sheepshead will be caught this month.
can pretty much
negate the
March is quite a mixed bag along the
negative effects of the wind. Unlike a
lower and middle Texas coast. Warmer
drifting boat that’s at the mercy of the
weather, warmer water and the possibility
wind, a wading angler has the ability
of landing a trophy trout are mixed
to stop and thoroughly fish an area as
in with brutal early spring winds and
necessary. And, as veteran big trout
growing crowds. Most of the crowds are
hunters know, that’s often the only way to
made up of casual weekend anglers and
draw a strike from wallhanger fish.
limited to the fair weather, mild-wind
Despite the fact a number of sow
days during spring. But, seasoned anglers
specks will be landed this month, March
have come to accept that some of the best
isn’t all about trophy trout. Good numbers
fishing can occur under some of the worst
of both “keeper” specks and reds are also
conditions during March and are more
available this month. On most bay systems
than willing to head out on the bay when
anglers can find areas protected from the
58
TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
wind that also produce decent numbers
of keeper-size fish.
Flounder will also be moving back into
the bays during March. However for the
most part they will be incidental catches.
Sheepshead are another species that will
start being caught on a more regular basis
during March. In many areas, March is
the best month of the year to pick up
sheepshead, with the best action often
concentrated around Gulf jetties.
LOWER COAST
“For starters, March is
need calm wind to fish up
really, really windy,” said
there.
Garza. “But, a lot of times
“Usually when it gets
we’ve been successful working
windy, we’ll fish the color
ICW between the Y and the
changes south of Gas Well
East Cut and around sunken
Flats. When we’re fishing the
barge, fishing for black drum.
color changes, we’ll use both
There are usually a lot of
shrimp under a popping cork
drum there that time of year,
and soft-plastics. If the color
especially oversize drum. As
changes on the east side are
long as it is not too rough to
producing, you can usually do
fish out there, you can usually
just as well on the west side,
do pretty good. We just fish
south of Cullen’s. But, I save
frozen shrimp on the bottom.
that spot for when it’s really
“The best condition for
windy.
black drum trips in this area
“Around the second or
is when the tide is moving out
third week of March, we’ll start
but not ripping. There are a lot
catching fish right out front
Photo by Capt. Gencho Buitureira
of holes and washouts around
(of Port Isabel). When the
Flounder will start to make their way back into the lower and middle
the marker posts. When the
trout show up out front, we’ll
coast bay systems in March.
tide is moving out, the black
start out throwing topwaters
for really big trout. Then, we’ll
drum will congregate in those
Another option, he says. is to fish for
holes. This is a good option when you are
back out to a little deeper water and fish
snook and mangrove snapper up the
fishing with kids or, really, anyone who
for numbers using either a popping cork
Brownsville Ship Channel.
just wants to have the rod bent. When you
and shrimp or soft-plastics.”
Capt Roy Garza of Get-A-Way
hook into one of those big, oversize black
Buitureira says Port Isabel area anglers
Adventures Lodge says March presents
drum, they’re going to pull for awhile. In
can also expect to find good numbers of
two distinctly different options for him.
March, the kids are out for Spring Break
sheepshead around the jetties in March.
Port Isabel guide Capt. Gencho “JR”
Buitureira says the warming weather
brought on by March will result in a
variety of target species and locations
coming into play
“A lot of what I do in March depends
on the wind,” said Buitureria. “If we have
calm winds, I’ll be doing some fishing
along the ICW up north. We can usually
catch quite a few trout there, especially
during the early part of March, but you
march 2015
march 2015
TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
59
and a lot of families go fishing. This is a
perfect trip for them to have fun and catch
some big fish.
“Otherwise, we’ll be finding protected
areas to fish because wind is strong. Of
course, we always have last minute cold
fronts that blow in with rain and dropping
temperatures. But, in between the lat
fronts, we’ll be looking for trout along
shorelines of West Bay. We’ll mostly be
throwing soft-plastics. We’ll still be using
smaller soft-plastics. I like the 3.5-inch
Bass Assassin in Chicken-on-a-Chain with
a 1/16 ounce jig head.”
Corpus Christi guide Capt. Alan
Sifford of Fish On Guide Service says wind
will determine when, where and how to
fish in March.
“March is a windy month,” said Sifford.
“The wind is really going to dictate where
and how we fish. Really, I look at two main
options in March. Most often, I’ll probably
be wading the King Ranch shoreline. But,
depending on what wind is doing I’ll
also fish the Land Cut for trout, redfish,
flounder and drum. When I’m wading, I’ll
be throwing Bass Assassins and Corkies.
Photo by Capt. Gencho Buitureira
Quality speckled trout are available to anglers fishing the Lower Laguna Madre this month.
For the most part, we’ll be catching
trout - and some pretty good ones. But,
there will also be some small bunches of
redfish working along the shoreline - not
a lot, but we will get some from time to
time. When I’m in
the Land Cut, I’ll
be using shrimp
for the most
part. March is an
excellent month
to go to the Land
Cut for full boxes
of redfish, trout
and flounder. Plus,
you can pick up
quite a few black
drum down there.
When we’re really
in the fish, I’ll use
a tandem rig. On
one hook I’ll put
a Bass Assassin, on
the other I’ll put
a live shrimp. At
times, we’ll catch
‘em two at a time.
Again, you can
catch a lot of fish
that time of year
in the Land Cut. If
you’re just looking
to pick up a box
fish to eat, that’s
Photo by Bill L. Olson
probably your best
Capt. Roy Garza of Getaway Adventures Lodge says numbers of good
bet.”
eating speckled trout are available for anglers to catch this month.
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TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
MIDDLE COAST
March presents Aransas area anglers
with several options. Early in March will
be the end of the black drum run. There
will still be a lot of oversize drum up in
the Corpus Christi ship channel. Those
fish will be in 30-40 feet of water. The best
way to catch them is using live shrimp and
a 1/2-ounce slip sinker.
There will also be some black drum
on the flats. The fish found on the flats
are much more likely to be in the keeper
class than those found in the ship channel.
Mud patches are usually a dead give-a-way
that a school of drum is in the area. When
they are located, the best bet for tempting
black drum is live shrimp either free-lined
or fished under a popping cork.
In addition to black drum, the bays
surrounding Aransas Pass and Port
Aransas will also have a lot of redfish
around. Like the keeper size black drum,
the redfish will be scattered on the flats.
So, to increase your chances drifting is
march 2015
a better bet than anchoring. Although
they will hit plastics and spoons, most
fishermen will be throwing live shrimp
under a cork for reds on the flats during
the early part of March. Later in the
month, schools of shad will start showing
up and many fishermen will switch to cut
shad as opposed to shrimp.
Trout fishing will be fair in early
March, but should get better as the month
goes on. Early in March, live shrimp under
a cork will be the offering of choice for
most trout fishermen.
As the water starts warming up,
croaker will start moving in. Once the
croaker reach 2 3/4 to 3 ½ inches in size,
many middle coast trout fishermen will
switch to live croaker as their bait of
choice.
Rockport guide Capt Ray Burdette says
he is anxiously anticipating spring fishing.
“March is one of my favorite times
for bay fishing in the Coastal Bend area,”
said Burdette. “If weather cooperates the
warming water will allow fish to start
feeding aggressively. Water temperature
is the key. As days get longer, the fish
will move onto the flats once the sun has
warmed the water.
“If the wind is cooperating as well,
some great site fishing is available for big
speckled trout and redfish. Look for flats
adjacent to deep water. Shallow flats along
a channel will produce some good late
morning and afternoon fishing on sunny
days. Check the water temperature. On the
flats it will be from 5 to 15 degrees warmer
than the adjacent deeper water.
“In March, you can use artificial baits,
live bait or dead bait — it all will work.
Artificial and natural baits both work.
Live finger mullet or mud minnows will
work great.
“Also try scented soft-plastics. They are
a killer when worked slowly this time of
year. Bottom fishing along the edge of a
flat with shrimp or cut bait can also work.
“Another key is to look for bait or bird
action. It will lead you to fish. Moving
tides will encourage the fish to bite as the
water warms. Plan you fishing during tide
movement if possible.”
Port O’ Connor area anglers will start
seeing fish move up onto the shallows
and shorelines as the water warms during
March. Espiritu Santo and Mesquite bays
will begin to turn on as the weather and
water gets warmer.
march 2015
Most of the trout will be found in
knee- to waist-deep water where they
can be targeted with topwater and slowsinking plugs, soft-plastics and live shrimp
under a popping cork. Redfish will also be
found on the flats, along the shorelines
and in potholes during March. Topwaters,
soft-plastics and weedless spoons, as
well as cut mullet will produce plenty of
redfish.
Photo by Bill L. Olson
On days the wind blows Capt. Allen Sifford will fish Bass Assassins under a rattling float in the
Land Cut
TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
61
For information on guides mentioned, see Guides, Gear & Getaways on pages 67, 69, & 71
Lake Roundup
Texans Are “Talking” . . .
SOUTH TEXAS
About
Photo by Bill L. Olson
While the majority of the black bass spawn on Choke Canyon will be over by March, anglers will
still find some bass spawning along shorelines of the main lake, or post spawn fish nearby.
By Danno Wise
March usually means warming
temperatures, more active fish and
fishermen across South Texas. As the
spring season gets underway, there is a
variety of freshwater fishing action to
be had throughout the region. While
the black bass spawn is over or winding
down on most South Texas lakes, there
is still plenty of good fishing to be had.
White bass remain active in the rivers
and creeks that feed into the main lakes.
Additionally, many of these lakes will see
crappie begin moving into the shallows in
preparation of their spawning rituals. Plus
catfish, especially channel and blue cats,
will start becoming much more active as
March wears on and spring draws near.
Of course, this isn’t to say there aren’t
plenty of black bass possibilities as well.
There will still be remnants of the spawn
during March. Most South Texas lakes will
still have pockets of fish on beds. But, even
the post-spawn fish won’t be too deep this
time of year. Anglers concentrating on
shallow structure can usually find success
with post-spawn and late-spawning fish
during the first few weeks of spring.
COLETO CREEK — According to
longtime bass pro Dennis Lala, there
will be plenty of shallow water action on
Coleto Creek during March.
“We should have some good shallow
water fishing in March,” said Lala. “Those
fish will be getting ready to spawn, so
they’ll be up shallow. Coleto spawns a
little earlier than some other lakes, so a
lot of the fish will have already spawned
62
TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
by March, but there will still be some big
ones on the beds that haven’t spawned yet.
“A Power Jerkshad will be my number
one bait in March. Usually I’ll be throwing
a watermelon/red or Baby Bass. Those are
colors like that always work well on this
lake. Most often, I’ll use it rigged Carolinastyle — especially if fish are a little deeper.
When the fish are shallow I’ll use either a
real light Carolina rig or use it weightless,
with just a weedless hook.
“You can also drag chartreuse and
white spinnerbaits across beds and do real
well. I like throwing one with double gold
willowleaf blades. Spinnerbaits can also
work well on the outside edges, if you just
let them fall off the grass beds. And, we’ll
have some topwater action in March. It
won’t be real strong – because the water’s
still warming up – but there will be some
fish caught on topwaters.
“Usually, the real shallow bite won’t
last all day. In the afternoon, I’ll fish on
the outside edges of the grass. There, I’ll
use a Carolina-rigged Power Jerkshad or
a Shaky Worm. By the end of March, just
about all of our fish will have spawned.
After those fish spawn, they back off those
beds. Right off the bat, post-spawn fish
can be a little finicky but, they will eat just
about anything once they get straightened
out. This time of year, you can do real well
with a Rattling Frenzy. You can also do real
well by slow-rolling a spinnerbait.”
“If they’re generating on the lake, there
will be plenty of fish around the hot water
discharge. The main lake temperature
still won’t be too warm, so the discharge
will still be holding a lot of fish. You
never know what that’ll catch - could
be a striper, a hybrid, a black bass or a
big catfish – who knows. You can throw
Rattlin’ Frenzies, spoons and crankbaits
for black bass and white bass. Jigs and
minnows work well for crappie and white
bass. And, of course, nightcrawlers and
shrimp are good for catfish.”
MEDINA — March is the beginning of
a two-month stretch of “easy” fishing on
Medina, according to Jim Gallagher of
Jim’s Rebait Tackle. Unlike other South
Texas lakes, anglers heading to Medina can
expect to find spawning largemouth bass
throughout the month of March.
“March and April are our best fishing
months on Medina,” says Gallagher.
“March is an excellent month and that
generally carries on into April. Fishing’s
pretty easy for us this time of year.
“Our fish (black bass) spawn a little
later than they do on other South Texas
lakes. Our lake is deeper and clearer than
most other South Texas lakes and the
water tends to be a little cooler. So, it
usually takes until March for the water
temperature to get right. If we get any
strong, late fronts, it can set the spawn
back even later. But, usually by midMarch, the fish on the upper end should
begin to spawn. A week later they should
be spawning in the mid-lake and a week
after that the fish in the lower end of the
lake should start. That is our typically
pattern - the spawn begins on the top end
and moves down week-by-week.
“Worms, lizards and spinnerbaits will
be the top choices for spawning bass.
But, again, this lake is a little different
than other South Texas lakes. There will
be a few fish spawning shallow. But, the
march 2015
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majority of the fish — and especially the
bigger fish — will be spawning in deeper
water, because the lake level tends to
fluctuate. If all you’re catching are little
males off the bank, then the females are
deeper.
“Once the black bass move onto the
beds, they tend to stay there unless we get
some extreme weather. But, we’ll also be
waiting for our white bass spawn to start.
And, these fish are a little more sensitive
to having the right conditions. Hard rain
will certainly affect the white bass spawn.
For the whites to run, we need a water
temperature above 62 degrees. Then we
just need clear water and good flow. That
is where a heavy rain could set them back.
They need clear water to spawn. If it gets
muddy, they will hold off until it clears.
“We will also have some decent crappie
activity in March. But, you have to be
fishing on brush to catch crappie. There
are some brush piles on this lake, but most
of them are hard to find. If you happen
to know where one is, you can do pretty
good on crappie this month.”
CHOKE CANYON — Choke Canyon
is one of those lakes that usually see its
bass population spawn a bit earlier than
other Texas lakes. This is certainly the case
during years with warm winters such as
the winter of 2014-15. So, while anglers
may find the occasional spawning bass on
Choke Canyon this month, the majority of
spawning activity will be over by the time
March begins. Any fish that have yet to
spawn will be located on the lower end of
the main lake. Anglers seeking late season
spawners should look for bedded fish
along sandy shorelines or behind hydrilla
beds. In the river and upper portion of
the lake, the fish will already be in a postspawn pattern by the beginning of March.
When the fish transition to post-spawn
mode, they’ll be concentrated around
mid-depth structure (10 to 12 feet). Look
for deep grass beds, points and channel
edges to be holding plenty of fish. Again,
water levels are running low, so anglers
will need to adjust accordingly when
seeking structure at the proper depth —
what was once deep structure will now be
mid-depth and what was once mid-depth
will now be shallow.
One species that will be spawning
on Choke Canyon during March will be
crappie. Most spawning crappie will be
holding tight to shorelines in flooded
brush. Minnows, as well as small jigs and
64
TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
downsized crankbaits, will produce plenty
of slabs this month.
FALCON — March will see a mixture of
spawning and post-spawn fish on Falcon.
Although much of the lake has already
experienced the spawn, fishermen on
Falcon will still find some bedding fish
in the lower portion of the lake. Anglers
looking for spawning fish should push
back as far as possible into the flooded
brush along the shorelines, as most of the
bass use this brushy cover for protection
of their spawning homes. Though some
of these flooded brushlines have an
overwhelming amount of cover, anglers
should work each area as thoroughly as
possible. Anglers should also use as heavy
of tackle as is practical to ensure they are
able to drag bass out from the dense cover.
Along the upper and middle portions
of the lake, post-spawn fish will be the
norm this month. Since the upper end
of the lake is first to experience spawning
fish, it is also the first area to see fish enter
the post-spawn cycle. And, just as the
spawning pattern marches down the lake
in succession, so too does the post-spawn
pattern. By month’s end, fish throughout
the lake will be located on the secondary
points, as well as along the outside edges
of the flooded timber. These fish should be
much easier for anglers to reach and will
usually attack crankbaits and spinnerbaits
drug along the edge of the brush line.
WEST TEXAS
continue the impact should not be as
great. Look for black bass to be staging
in advance of their annual spawn. Fish
spinnerbaits to find the buck bass and
then fish the adjacent deeper water to find
the females. Jigs and Texas rigged worms
are good options as fish move on to beds.
Stripers will have started their way
back down the river. Look for bird activity
or bait balls on your electronics.
Catfish will be in water 40-70 feet deep.
O.H. IVIE — As of early February Ivie
was a few feet higher than it was one year
earlier. Look for black bass to start to
move toward and up the rivers in advance
of the spawn.With lower water levels the
past several years local anglers should
know where the flats are that fish will
spawn. Use Rat-L-Traps and spinnerbaits
to find the nest building males with the
females to be nearby in deeper water.
BROWNWOOD — Two feet less water
than a year ago at the start of February,
however the prospects for this popular
lake to catch some runoff from late winter
rains remains good. Water temperature at
the start of March should be either side of
60 degrees. Spinnerbaits and Rat-L-Traps
should find black bass in deeper waters off
of the flats to start March. As temperatures
rise look for fish to move up to start to
spawn. Jigs and Texas rigged lizards will
be best.
HIGH PLAINS
By TOJ Staff
By TOJ Staff
AMISTAD — At the start of February
“Big Friendly” was about 29 feet low
and continues to slowly rise. With
Pacific moisture continuing to move
across Mexico and West Texas look for
the lake to have even more water by
the start of March. With the onset of
spring the annual draw-down will occur
for agricultural needs, however if rains
ALAN HENRY — With spring on the
horizon look for this lake to receive lots of
attention from area anglers. As of February
the lake was over five feet higher than one
year ago. Look for black bass to still be
holding in deeper water near flats on which
they will spawn as temperatures rise.
Spinner ba it s, R a t - L- Tr a p s a n d
crankbaits will cover water for anglers.
Jigs and Texas rigs will thoroughly fish an
area once fish are found.
march 2015
Guides, Gear & Getaways
TACKLE TIPS & TECHNIQUES | Danno Wise
Fishing Off-Colored Water
SALTWater
UPPER COAST | SABINE
MIDDLE COAST | ROCKPORT
Bay Fishing
Seadrift to
Rockport Texas!
UPPER COAST | MATAGORDA
Captain Jim Garrison
USCG/TP & W Licensed
P: 512-393-9305 | E: [email protected]
www.RedfishRoperCharters.com
OFFSHORE | FREEPORT
Texas by Design
Embroidered Apparel with Texas Flair!
Specializing in artist designs of the great outdoors.
• Fishing Shirts & Caps
• Wildlife to Wildflower Apparel
• Coastal Bird Creations
UPPER COAST | GALVESTON
For all shapes and sizes of Women and Men.
(361) 729-8995
www.texasbydesignembroidery.com
205 S. Austin St., Rockport, TX 78382
MIDDLE COAST | PORT O’CONNOR
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TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
march 2015
march 2015
TEXAS
OUTDOORS
JOURNAL
TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
67
Guides, Gear & Getaways
TACKLE TIPS & TECHNIQUES | Danno Wise
Lures That Draw Strikes from Shallow Water
middle coast | port aransas
MIDDLE COAST | CORPUS CHRISTI-NORTH PADRE ISLAND
“Professional Property Management and Sales”
Serving North Padre Island since 1988
Luxury Vacation Rentals by Gulf Beachfront or on Canals leading to
Upper Laguna Madre & your favorite fishing spot. Many with private boat docks.
Book online or call our rental specialist today!
361.949.9050 OFFICE 361.949.9070 FAX
14613 S. PADRE ISLAND DRIVE, CORPUS CHRISTI, TX 78418
www.rentalmgmt.com
LOWER COAST | PORT ISABEL & SOUTH PADRE ISLAND
LOWER COAST | BAFFIN BAY
HAVE YOUR OUTDOOR EVENT INCLUDED IN
TOJ’s OUTDOOR CALENDAR!
Mail your Outdoor Calendar items to:
1706 W. Sam Houston Pkwy North,
Houston, TX 77043
or fax to: 713.957.3996
or email: [email protected]
68
TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
march 2015
march 2015
TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
69
FIELD TIPS & TECHNIQUES | Bill L. Olson & Danno Wise
Guides, Gear & Getaways
Turkey Hunting Basics
LOWER COAST | PORT MANSFIELD
HUNTING
A PLACE FOR ALL SEASONS
Relax, we’ll take care of the details!
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COLORADO
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Texas Fresh Water
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www.grbarranch.com
800-523-6832
GREAT HUNTING - Pagosa Springs, CO
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Full description with photos available at
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TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
march 2015
march 2015
YOUR AD SHOULD
BE HERE!
CALL 713-957-3997
for GUIDES, GEAR & GETAWAY ADS
TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
71
Deadline for the April calendar is February 25, 2015
Center. Program Fees: Adults $10,
Children 12 and Under: $6. Registration required. For more information
call (956) 350-2920.
Outdoor Calendar
THROUGH MARCH 22,
Light Goose Conservation Season,
East Zone (123 counties). For more information consult the Texas Outdoors
Annual, or call (800) 792-1112.
THROUGH MARCH 22,
Light Goose Conservation Season,
West Zone (151 counties). For more
information consult the Texas Outdoors Annual, or call (800) 792-1112.
FEBRUARY 28 – MARCH 1,
Texas Independence Day Celebration,
Washington on the Brazos State
Historic Site, Washington. Celebrate
the 179th anniversary of the birth of
the Republic of Texas. This annual
two-day celebration commemorates
the 17-day convention that led to
the signing of the Texas Declaration
of Independence and her eternal
political separation from Mexico in
1836. The event features live music,
food, traditional crafts, living history
presentations, firing demonstrations,
historical encampments and commemorative programs—all with no
park entrance or parking fees. Step
back into history to experience life
in Texas in 1836 by visit-ing with
reenactors and witnessing musket
and cannon firing demonstrations.
For more information call (936) 8782214, x224.
MARCH 1,
Cowhill Chapter National Wild Turkey
Federation fundraiser banquet, Fairlie. For more information call (903)
886-8880.
MARCH 5,
Alamo Chapter National Wild Turkey
Federation fundraiser banquet, San
Antonio. For more information call
(210) 789-4853.
MARCH 6,
Red River Valley Chapter National
Wild Turkey Federation fundraiser
banquet, Paris. For more information
call (903) 715-2461.
72
TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
MARCH 7,
Greater Texas Hill Country Chapter
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
fundraiser banquet, Fredericksburg.
For more information call (830) 8645400.
MARCH 7,
Highland Lakes Chapter National
Wild Turkey Federation fundraiser
banquet, Marble Falls. For more information call (830) 693-9515.
MARCH 7,
Northeast Texas Chapter National
Wild Turkey Federation fundraiser
banquet, Mt. Pleasant. For more information call (903) 717-8670.
MARCH 7,
Parker County Chapter Mule Deer
Foundation fundraiser banquet,
Weatherford. For more information
call (817) 475-9702.
MARCH 7,
Kaufman County Double Beard
Chapter National Wild Turkey Federation fundraiser banquet, Terrell.
For more information call (214)
558-9348.
MARCH 7, 14,
Learn to Tie a Fly, Cabela’s on Highway 75, Allen. TPWD volunteers from
the Dallas Flyfishers Club will be on
hand to show you how easy and fun
it is to tie a fly. This free demonstration is open to beginners and novice
fly fishers. Equipment and materials
provided, or bring your fly tying tools
if you have them. For more information call (972) 618-6714.
MARCH 7, 14, 19, 21, 26, 28,
Angler Academy, Garner State Park,
Concan. Like fishing? Take this beginner’s course to learn the basics (ages
7 and up). Whether you’re a child or
an adult, beginning anglers can learn
how to assemble basic tackle, tie
fishing knots, and cast safely with a
spin-cast rod and reel combo.
PLUS! Borrow equipment through
our FREE Tackle Loaner program and
try fishing on your own. For more
information call (830) 232-6132, x236
MARCH 10,
Angler Education Instructor Training
Workshop, Joseph A Caroll Building,
401 W. Hickory St., Denton. Become
a TPWD certified Angler Education
Instructor. This free workshop is open
to anyone 18 or older interested in
teaching fishing skills in their communities. The program provides the
curriculum, equipment, materials
and support to help volunteers
successfully introduce youth and
their families to fishing. SBEC credit
available for teachers. The workshop
is free, but preregistration is required,
please call 940-637-2702.
MARCH 12,
Williamson County Chapter National
Wild Turkey Federation fundraiser
banquet, Georgetown. For more information call (512) 818-0415.
MARCH 14,
Angler Education Instructor Training
Workshop, Bass Pro Shop, Pearland.
Become a TPWD certified Angler Education Instructor. This Free workshop
is open to anyone 18 or older interested in teaching fishing skills in their
communities. The program provides
the curriculum, equipment, materials and support to help volunteers
successfully introduce youth and
their families to fishing. SBEC credits
available for teachers. The Workshop
is free, but preregistration is required,
please call (281) 534-0123.
MARCH 20,
Pioneer Chapter of Northeast Texas
National Wild Turkey Federation
fundraiser ban-quet, Clarksville. For
more information call (903) 2192692.
MARCH 20,
Texoma Chapter National Wild Turkey Federation fundraiser banquet,
Pottsboro. For more information call
(903) 870-8780.
MARCH 21,
Canadian River Chapter National
Wild Turkey Federation fundraiser
banquet, Canadian. For more information, visit www.nwtf.org.
MARCH 21-MAY 3,
South Zone Spring Turkey Season,
54 counties. For more information
consult the TPWD Outdoor Annual,
or call (800) 792-1112.
MARCH 26,
Tri-County Longbeards Chapter National Wild Turkey Federation fundraiser banquet, Temple. For more
information, visit www.nwtf.org.
MARCH 26,
Palo Pinto Chapter National Wild Turkey Federation fundraiser banquet,
Mineral Wells. For more information
call (940) 452-8430.
MARCH 28,
Pecos County Chapter Mule Deer
Foundation fundraiser banquet, Fort
Stockton. For more information call
(432) 290-4563.
MARCH 28,
Red River Longbeards Chapter National Wild Turkey Federation fund-
raiser banquet, Burkburnett. For
information call (940) 704-3643.
MARCH 29,
Native and Non-Native Texas Wildlife, Choke Canyon State Park, Calliham. Come learn about native and
non-native wildlife found at Choke
Canyon State Park and other areas of
Texas with one of our park rangers!
Join one of our park rangers for a
presentation on Texas wildlife. This is
a guide to game birds, game animals,
fur-bearers, and other wildlife of
Texas. This event is free to attend for
campers and day users. Park entrance
fees are $5 per person (13 years and
up). 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. For more
information call (361) 786-3868.
HAVE YOUR OUTDOOR EVENT
INCLUDED IN TOJ’s OUTDOOR
CALENDAR.
Mail your Outdoor Calendar
items to: 1706 W. Sam Houston
Pkwy North, Houston TX 77043
or fax to: 713.957.3996
or email: [email protected]
MARCH 14,
Perryton Stutters Chapter National
Wild Turkey Federation fundraiser
banquet, Perryton. For more information call (806) 435-3164.
MARCH 14,
Flyfish Texas, Freshwater Fisheries
Center, Athens. Fly fishing clubs and
anglers from across Texas come to
TFFC to share fly fishing tips and
techniques and teach them to others.
Aimed at the novice fly fisher, Fly Fish
Texas is designed to teach you how
to tie a fly, cast it and catch a fish with
it—all in the same day. 9:00 a.m. until
4:00 p.m. For more information call
(903) 670-2266.
MARCH 14,
Archery 101, Resaca de la Palma
State Park, Brownsville. Learn the
basics of archery. Bows and arrows
will be provided. Recommended for
children 8 and up. Meet at the Visitor
march 2015
You can make a difference by
r eporting illegal hunting and fishing activity!
Up to $1,000 may be paid for information leading
to arrest and conviction of poachers
Reward Hotline 800-792-GAME
Support anti-poaching efforts by becoming a
member of the Operation Game Thief Program
(call 512-389-4381 for membership information) or by
sending your tax deductible contribution to Operation
Game Thief, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, TX 78744
march 2015
TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
73
Tide Tables
TOP TEN REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE
TO TEXAS OUTDOORS JOURNAL
Fishing & Hunting Times
US TIME ZONES
MARCH 2015
SUN
MON
TUE
WED
THU
FRI
H3:15A1.0
L9:59A0.1
H4:44P0.9
L10:03P0.5
H4:04A1.0
L10:26A0.2
H5:02P0.9
L10:35P0.4
H4:55A1.0
L10:54A0.3
H5:21P0.9
L11:09P0.3
H6:50A1.0 L12:46A0.2 L1:26A0.1 L2:11A0.1
L12:24P0.4 H7:51A1.0 H8:59A1.0 H10:17A1.0
H6:38P0.9 L12:57P0.6 L1:33P0.7 L2:14P0.9
H6:51P0.9 H6:56P0.9 H6:58P1.0
L3:04A0.0
H11:43A1.1
L3:05P0.9
H6:38P1.0
L4:04A0.0
H1:04P1.1
L4:22P0.9
H6:44P1.1
13
L5:12A-0.1
H2:06P1.2
H
L
14
H
L6:21A-0.1 L7:27A-0.2 H1:00A1.2 H2:21A1.3 H3:35A1.4
H2:49P1.2 H3:23P1.2 L8:28A-0.1 L9:25A-0.1 L10:19A0.1
L7:29P1.0 L8:06P1.0 H3:52P1.2 H4:20P1.2 H4:47P1.2
H11:18P1.1
L8:48P0.8 L9:32P0.6 L10:19P0.4
H4:45A1.4
L11:11A0.2
H5:14P1.1
L11:07P0.2
H5:54A1.1
L12:04P0.5
H5:42P1.1
L11:57P0.0
8
15
2
9
16
3
4
10
11
17
5
12
18
19
MOUNTAIN
CENTRAL
EASTERN
< (+) (-) >
< (+) (-) >
< (+) (-) >
< (+) (-) >
1. In March 2014, named #1 in major outdoor publication category.
For 15 consecutive years named one of the top fishing, hunting &
outdoors magazines in Texas.
SAT
L7:49A-0.3 H12:44A1.0 H1:37A1.0 H2:27A1.0
H3:38P1.0 L8:30A-0.2 L9:04A-0.1 L9:33A0.0
L8:58P0.8 H3:57P1.0 H4:12P1.0 H4:27P0.9
L9:09P0.8 L9:19P0.7 L9:37P0.6
1
PACIFIC
6
20
7
2. A year’s subscription has 12 issues, not something less.
3. Both fishing and hunting coverage in every issue.
4. Covers Texas like it should be covered with timely reports from
the field and on the water.
21
H7:04A1.5 L12:49A-0.1 L1:44A-0.1 L2:43A-0.1 L3:50A0.0 L5:04A0.1 L6:21A0.1
L12:58P0.7 H8:16A1.4 H9:33A1.4 H10:55A1.4 H12:22P1.3 H1:40P1.3 H2:35P1.3
H6:10P1.1 L1:57P0.9 L3:11P1.0 L5:12P1.0
L8:54P1.0
H6:39P1.1 H7:08P1.1 H7:36P1.1
H11:31P1.1
22
23
24
25
26
27
29
30
5. Proven solunar table of major and minor feeding periods of the day..
28
120°
L7:29A0.2 H12:53A1.1 H2:00A1.1
H3:10P1.3 L8:24A0.3 L9:09A0.4
L9:13P1.0 H3:32P1.2 H3:38P1.2
L9:28P0.9 L9:40P0..8
115°
110°
105°
100°
95°
90°
85°
80°
75°
6. Tide table with adjustments for the entire Texas coast.
MARCH 2015
31
7. Written by top writers that have etched their names in the record books.
APRIL 2015
SUN
MON
TUE
WED
H2:57A1.2
L9:45A0.4
H4:02P1.1
L9:53P0.7
1
THU
FRI
H4:39A1.2
L10:16A0.5
H4:17P1.2
L10:12P0.6
2
SAT
H4:38A1.3
L10:44A0.6
H4:33P1.2
L10:37P0.4
3
8. TOJ tells you where to go, what to expect when you get there and
how to do it a little bit better.
H5:26A1.3
L11:12A0.7
H4:50P1.2
L11:05P0.3
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9. Covers the Texas outdoors and outdoors interests of Texans.
H6:14A1.4 H7:03A1.4 L12:09A0.2 L12:47A0.1 L1:29A0.1 L2:19A0.1 L3:19A0.1
L11:43A0.8 L12:17P0.9 H7:56A1.4 H8:54A1.4 H9:59A1.4 H11:09A1.4 H12:15P1.4
H5:05P1.2 H5:15P1.2 L12:53P1.1 L1:33P1.1 L2:19P1.2
H5:19P1.2 H5:14P1.2 H5:10P1.3
L11:35P0.2
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10. Every cover is a work of art.
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Times are for Galveston, Galveston Channel
TIME DIFFERENCES
Calcasieu Pass, Louisiana
Sabine Pass Lighthouse
Sabine Pass Jetty
Sabine Pass
Mesquite Point, Sabine Pass
Galveston Bay ent. south jetty
Port Bolivar
Galveston Bay
Texas City, Turning Basin
Eagle Point (1)
Clear Lake(1)
Morgan Point (1)
Round Pt.,Trinity Bay (1)
Point Barrow, Trinity Bay
Gilchrist, East Bay
Jamaica Beach, West Bay
Alligator Point, West Bay
Christmas Point, Christmas Bay
Galveston Pleasure Pier
San Luis Pass
Freeport Harbor
Pass Cavallo
Aransas Pass
Padre Island (South End)
Port Isabel
+0:33
+3:54
+6:05
+10:21
+10:39
+5:48
+3:16
+2:38
+2:39
+2:32
-1:06
-0:09
-0:44
0:00
-0:03
-0:24
+1:02
+0:41
+4:15
+6:40
+5:19
+5:15
+4:43
+4:18
+3:31
+2:33
+2:31
-1:06
-0:09
-1:02
-1:20
-1:31
-1:45
-0:42
Tidal adjustments are not predictable for Port O’Connor, Matagorda Bay; Port
Lavaca, Matagorda Bay; and Riviera Beach, Baffin Bay since they are driven by wind
and weather. — NOAA
74
TEXAS OUTDOORS Journal
$
HighLow
-2:14
-1:24
-1:46
-1:31
-1:26
-1:31
-1:00
-1:15
-0:04
-0:25
-0:39
-1:05
+0:14
-0:06
95
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Fish, game and all wildlife move in search of food in cycles relative to the moon’s location to the earth.
The time spans listed above are the prime times to start each day at and along each time zone meridian
of longitude 75 degrees (Eastern) 90 degrees (Central) 105 degrees (Mountain) and 120 degrees (Pacific)
during Standard time and Daylight Saving during the time it is in effect. To determine the feeding cycle
time for best fishing and hunting in the area you plan to fish or hunt advance the sum of 4 minutes for
each degree west and back up 4 minutes for each degree east. The next prime feeding cycle (not listed on
the calendar) will be approximately twelve and one-half hours later. There are minor periods that occur
between the prime or major periods. The minor periods are typically fair periods and last only about half
as long as the prime periods.
Feeding Times by Dan Barnett have been proven by analysis of 124 – 3 day bass tournaments between
1967 through 1983 to be reliable and accurate in predicting wildlife feeding activity. The Feeding Times
are not a cure-all. Weather and other environmental conditions affect wildlife feeding activity. Annual vest
pocket books, which show all the major and minor periods, can be ordered by sending a check or money
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Over 60 Years in Print
Feeding Times by Dan Barnett
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