Fin or fowl, all have been good choices

Dec. 4, 2017 at 10:06 p.m.

Afternoon sessions in November were just as profitable as morning affairs. There is no reason December shouldn't continue with great hunting and fishing.

Afternoon sessions in November were just as profitable as morning affairs. There is no reason December shouldn't continue with great hunting and fishing.   CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY BINK GRIMES for The Victoria Advocate

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

Tough to choose which way to head outdoors these days.

It was a good month for coastal anglers along the Texas coast - maybe the best in over a decade.

"I can't remember the fishing being this good in a long time," said guide Tommy Alexander of Matagorda. "I mean, pick where you want to fish - east, west, the river; all have fish."

Birds have consistently worked on Calcasieu Lake and Sabine Lake, but other bays like East Galveston and East Matagorda have enjoyed great bird action as well.

"Our big fish numbers have been down, but we have caught a lot of fish under birds," said guide Kirk Stansel of HR&G on Calcasieu Lake. "We dealt with freshwater for so much of the summer, and we are finally seeing some clean water and catching fish."

Shell has been the pattern in San Antonio Bay. Live shrimp over the reefs have produced consistent limits. Light winds have allowed anglers to work all the reefs, and catches have been solid. Waders tossed topwaters this week and found limits of trout and scattered redfish.

Deer season began Nov. 4, and many ranches in South Texas have reported good deer movement lately. Hurricane Harvey rains greened prairies and pastures, making deer uninterested in corn and other supplemental food sources.

It has been bone-dry for the past 90 days, so we could use some moisture to knock the dust off the roads. The good news is biologists have noticed good horn production due to good habitat conditions.

The first split of duck season was good considering above-normal November temperatures did not spark a steady movement of migrants.

"It's been hotter than normal duck season, but everyone seems to be holding good numbers of ducks," said Mike Grigar, owner of Johnny's Sport Shop in Eagle Lake. "Most of the ducks have not arrived yet, so the second half of the season should be even better."

The second split of the South Zone runs from Saturday to Jan. 28.

The surprise of 2017 has been the number of snow geese that have reappeared on the Texas rice prairie. Outfitters from Wharton to El Campo to Eagle Lake to East Bernard have collectively cheered at the number of geese on the coast, and they have taken advantage of a bumper juvenile crop of goslings.

For the past five years, many goose hunters have focused on more gullible specklebellies instead of banging their head against a proverbial wall in chasing white geese. Snow geese, arguably the most wary of waterfowl, have been a tough bird to hunt for decades. However, with lots of young, gray birds - some estimate 25 percent or more of the flock - decoying action has improved drastically.

"All I can tell you is goose hunting has been like the good old days," said guide Andrew Armour of Karankawa Plains Outfitters in Pierce. "We have had some 60-plus bird days this month in weather more conducive to fishing than hunting."

That's when you know it is good.

Bink Grimes is a freelance writer, photographer, author and licensed captain. Follow his reports on Facebook and Instagram.


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