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Hunters and anglers have choices to make

Nov. 5, 2011 at 6:05 a.m.


It is tough to choose which way to head outdoors these days.

Whitetails are on the move, waterfowl are riding the north wind, and speckled trout, redfish and flounder are negotiating the changing tides.

It was a good week for coastal anglers along the Golden Crescent as dropping water temperatures finally gave use the first signs of fall.

"We caught limits all week long," guide James Plaag of Galveston said. "The fish moved shallow and followed the shad - we had trout to five pounds."

Johnny Valentino, of Eagle Point Bait Camp, said large Gulf trout moved to deep water and were consistent on shrimp. Some sand trout pushing two pounds were caught this week along the channel.

The same has held true in Matagorda Bay with good catches coming on soft plastics and Gulps.

Birds have consistently worked on Calcasieu Lake and Sabine Lake, but other bays like East Galveston and East Matagorda have only seen sporadic bird action. That has not quelled catches, though, with solid numbers of trout and redfish coming on live shrimp and plastics.

"East Matagorda Bay is starting to turn on," guide Lee Warmke said. "There haven't been many birds working, but fish have been caught on the shell."

Shell has been the pattern in San Antonio Bay, according to guide Harold Dworaczyk.

"Live shrimp over the reefs have produced consistent limits," Dworaczyk said. "Light winds have allowed us to work all the reefs, and it has been good."

Deer season begins Nov. 5, and many ranches in South Texas have reported good deer movement lately. Though the drought has affected forage and other food sources, recent rains have greened prairies and pastures, making deer uninterested in corn and other supplemental food sources.

But the greenery will be short lived if the drought persists, and whitetails will once again rely on ranch managers and hunters for a free meal. The good news is biologists predict average horn production despite the drought.

Duck and goose season begins Nov. 5 and prospects could not be better for those with water. Drought conditions have pushed more birds to the coastal flats with good numbers of redheads, pintails, teal and wigeons working bay shorelines from Matagorda to Port Mansfield.

"Every piece of water we have is loaded with ducks," Todd Steele of Thunderbird Hunting Club said. "The problem lies with the water, just about the time we get a pond full, we have to pump another because of evaporation."

Guide Bill Sherrill echoed those sentiments, saying goose numbers look promising as well. Specklebellies appear to have produced a bumper crop of juveniles with wet conditions on the breeding grounds.

"We had biologists on our lands this week to estimate the percentage of young geese for the year," Sherrill said. "They said 30-40 percent of the specks are young birds, which is strong."

Though the brunt of the snow goose population has not arrived on the coast, preliminary reports indicate a promising hatch of young snows. Juvenile snow geese drive hunting success and decoying action, so expect a good year.

Fish, fowl or venison; choices like these are a good problem to have.

Bink Grimes is a freelance writer, photographer, author and hunting and fishing guide (www.matagordasunriselodge.com).

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