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WOODS, WINGS, WATER: Brisk air gets animals moving

Nov. 17, 2013 at 5:17 a.m.

Gadwalls and wigeons have made an impressive appearance in Texas in November.

We finally got it - a cold front.

Like my daughter says while mimicking me in her comedic southern draw, "The fish are biting, and the ducks are flying."

That pretty much sums it up. Fin and fowl did just that this week after 25-knot north winds blew through the state, dropping water levels and temperatures while allowing fall to finally become fall.

It's certainly a good time to be outdoors in Texas, what with fishing, waterfowl hunting and deer hunting in full swing.

"They (birds) worked everywhere," said guide Charlie Paradoski, of Matagorda. "There were trout to 26 inches under the birds in East Matagorda Bay."

Better late than never, right?

"Our tides were so high in October and the first part of November, the shrimp never left the marsh," Paradoski said. "It was probably the highest tides I have ever seen in my fishing career during the fall."

What that north wind did was flush shrimp from their nurseries in back lakes and marshes and dump the coveted crustaceans in the bays, where willing trout and redfish were hungrily waiting.

Oh, and flounder were there, too.

"The flounder run is on big time," said Galveston/Sabine guide Mike Cacciotti. "We found our 10-fish limit on the Louisiana shoreline."

Anglers should be reminded that to harvest a 10-fish limit of flounder on Sabine Lake, you must possess a valid Louisiana fishing license and launch on the Louisiana side of the lake. Texas anglers are allowed two flounder by rod and reel only during November.

Calcasieu Lake, the sister lake to Sabine, caught fire this week with birds working over trout and redfish all over the lake. Limits of flounder have been the norm near the channel on the incoming tide.

"We have been hunting ducks in the morning and fishing the afternoons," said guide Guy Stansel of HR&G. "It's the best time of year around here, especially after a cold front."

Duck hunting in the marshes and prairies of Texas has been off the charts for the first two weeks of the season. Gadwalls, pintails, teal, shovelers and impressive numbers of wigeons have blanketed the coastal prairies, as have snow geese and specklebellies since the cold front.

"Our ponds are rockin'," said guide Bill Sherrill. "More snow geese showed this week with the front."

Sherrill said he watched snows arrive from the south after the front.

"The big groups overshot us on the prairie," Sherrill said. "When they got to the Gulf, they knew they had messed up and gone too far, so they turned around and flew back north about 30 miles. That happens every once in a while."

Habitat remains in good shape since heavy rains fell in October. Water is a powerful thing when it comes to holding large concentrations of waterfowl.

"Everybody has been happy up here," said Mike Grigar of Johnny's Sport Shop in Eagle Lake. "Lots of shells are being sold, and that only means hunters are shooting lots of ducks."

Bink Grimes is a freelance writer, photographer, author and licensed captain (binkgrimes@sbcglobal.net).

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