Outdoors Digest

Lynn Burkhead
For the Herald Democrat

Calendar

Through Nov. 5 - Texas archery deer season.

Through Nov. 12 – Texas North Zone dove hunting first split.

Through Jan. 15 – Oklahoma archery deer season.

Oct. 30-Feb. 27 – Texas quail hunting season.

Oct. 31-Dec. 14 – Oklahoma woodcock season.

Nov. 2 – Monthly meeting of the Red River Fly Fishers at the Rec Hall at Eisenhower State Park. For information, visit www.rrff.org .

Nov. 6-Jan. 2 – Texas North Zone general whitetail season.

Nov. 6-Jan. 2 – General whitetail season in Grayson and Collin Counties with the means and method of take restricted to lawful archery and crossbow gear.

Nov. 6-Jan. 16 – Texas South Zone general whitetail season.

Nov. 13-28 - Texas North Zone duck season first split.

Notes

As Oct. 31 approaches this weekend, Happy Halloween from the Herald Democrat outdoors staff!... Ducks Unlimited, working in partnership with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), will construct approximately 206 acres of new wetlands within the Richland Creek Wildlife Management Area. According to a TPWD news release, water from the Trinity River will flood the wetland complex during the winter to provide habitat for a variety of bird species and the associated recreational benefits. After the winter, water from the wetland units would be released back to the Trinity River. The wetlands are designed to reduce sediment, nitrogen, and phosphorous levels in the water, providing valuable treatment and improved water quality for the Trinity River. The project is also anticipated to have more than 200 million gallons of water replenishment benefits annually. “The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department is excited to be working alongside Ducks Unlimited and the Texas Water Action Collaborative on this important project,” said John Silovsky, Wildlife Division Director at TPWD. “Ducks Unlimited is a long-standing partner that has provided direct assistance to TPWD to construct approximately 1,350 acres of wetland habitat on Richland Creek WMA since 1987.  Texan by Nature through the Texas Water Action Collaborative has taken the lead to protect and enhance water resources in the Trinity River Basin and connect TPWD  with corporate sponsors that recognize the importance of supporting water and wetland conservation.”…Did you know? According to TPWD, Richland Creek WMA is managed by the agency and is adjacent to Richland Chambers Reservoir, which was built by the Tarrant Regional Water District (TRWD) in the 1980s to help meet the growing water supply needs of the Dallas-Fort Worth region. A TPWD news release indicates that the WMA was created to mitigate wildlife habitat loss resulting from the construction of the reservoir…Since its creation, TPWD has worked closely with TRWD to develop an extensive wetland treatment system on the WMA that currently covers over 2,000 acres and helps treat raw Trinity River Water before it enters the reservoir and gets delivered to municipal and industrial water users. This highly successful collaboration is the model for the new project that will provide similar benefits to fish and wildlife and water quality in the Trinity River…Did you know? TPWD notes that the Lone Star State’s population of 29 million people is expected to double by 2050, putting pressure on the state’s land, water, wildlife, and infrastructure. As the 10th largest economy in the world with a GDP of $1.9 trillion, TPWD says that new water opportunities and conservation actions are needed to maintain economic leadership… TPWD says that Ray Roberts Lake State Park will be reopening the Highway 380 access point to the Greenbelt Unit as of Wednesday this week. This will reopen about four miles of multi-use trail and allow for hiking, biking, and equestrian access. The kayak launch and designated equestrian trailhead at the highway 380 access point will remain closed until further notice. “We are excited to be able to reopen this portion of the Greenbelt unit to visitors in time for them to enjoy the cool fall weather on the trail,” said Robbie Merritt, Superintendent of Ray Roberts Lake State Park. According to TPWD, this portion of the Greenbelt Unit has been closed since 2015 due to significant flooding along the Elm Fork of the Trinity River. These periodic floods, caused by several large log jams in the river channel, have caused damage to large sections of the multi-use trail, the equestrian trail and the parking area at the Highway 380 access point over the years.  In addition, the log jams have closed off approximately 2.5 miles of paddling trail along the river channel. The agency says that it has made several attempts to repair the trails and the Highway 380 access to their original condition over the years.  Each of these attempts were disrupted by subsequent flooding events causing the area to remain closed. “In the future, TPWD plans to perform the basic clean up necessary after each flooding event in order to reopen the Highway 380 access as soon as possible, providing a  primitive trail experience for hikers, bicyclists, and equestrian riders along the multi-use trail,” said Merritt, in the news release. The agency says that state park staff are currently working with TPWD’s partners with the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, the Greenbelt Alliance, and the City of Denton to develop a more long-term solution to the flooding issues at the park…

Hunting Reports

The 2021 muzzleloader season continues in Oklahoma this weekend, ending at sundown on Halloween. With cool temps over the weekend and the approaching rut, this is a good weekend to be out with a smokepole in the Sooner State… As archery hunting continues on both sides of the Red River, whitetail action is picking up in the Red River Valley with a good bow buck being reported in recent days from northern Fannin County. In southern Oklahoma, North Texas Outfitters owner and lead guide Dakota Stowers and his wife Summer both took excellent archery bucks on back-to-back days this week near Waurika, Okla.…Quail season opens up in Texas this weekend for its Oct. 30-Feb. 27. With fair hunting out west and good hunting down south—at least that’s the expectation—scenting conditions should be decent for pointing dogs in the state’s best areas this year. Expect good opening weekend action with some cooler weather and lighter winds, particularly down in South Texas where a good season is forthcoming…As first split waterfowl seasons approach in North Texas and southern Oklahoma, bigger ducks are beginning to slowly filter through the area with the passage of each cold front… The first split of dove season ends on Sunday, Oct. 31 in Oklahoma. The second split runs from Dec. 1-29 in the Sooner State. In Texas, the first split for the North Zone runs through Nov. 12 while the second split is slated to run from Dec. 17 until Jan. 2. While many hunters have moved on from dove hunting as deer, duck, and other hunting seasons arrive this fall, there are a decent number of mourning doves filtering into the area with the passage of each front. The key is scouting to find these limited pockets of birds, particularly around native food sources…

Fishing Reports

At Lake Texoma, water is lightly stained; water temps are 75 degrees; and the lake is 1.58 feet low. TPWD says that stripers have moved up to shallow water, with an early topwater bite occurring and then a swimbait bite later in the day. Seagulls continue to guide the way to schooling stripers on the lake, while some bigger stripers are also being caught on topwaters and in 20 to 60-feet of water over windblown points. Meanwhile, for Texoma crappie, anglers are finding good action on minnows and jigs fished near boathouses, timber near a channel, and over brush piles…On the Oklahoma side of the two-state reservoir, ODWC says that striped bass are good on Flukes, live shad, soft plastic baits, slabs, and topwater lures fished below Denison Dam as well as on main lake points. Stripers are also being caught on live shad and topwater lures right now, particularly near Washita Point, Platter Flats and the islands…At Lake Ray Roberts, site of the 51st Bassmaster Classic this past June, water is lightly stained; water temp is 76 degrees; and the lake is 0.67 feet low. TPWD says that white bass are moving quickly in 20-28-feet of water on main lake points and are biting on one-ounce silver and chartreuse slabs. Anglers are finding better luck on smaller slabs because the smaller size is most similar to the size of baitfish that the sand bass are feeding on right now. Sandies are moving quickly, so the bite is best on the bottom using Alabama-jigs in 30-35 feet, letting the bait hit bottom and slowly reeling up, particularly as the wind blows. Largemouths are good on jigs and crappie are good on main lake brush piles sitting in 20-30 foot depths as anglers use minnows. The biggest slab crappie are coming in the Buck Creek area in standing timber around 20-foot depths as anglers fish with their bait suspended in the 10-12 feet of water…At Lake Fork, water is lightly stained; water temp is 66 degrees; and the lake is 2.14 feet low. TPWD says that fishing is slow, but the shallow bite is the ticket right now. Bass are good for anglers using Chatterbaits early in the day in 1-3-feet of water. After the early bite tapers off, transition to squarebill crankbaits like an Xcite XB 1 in 3-5 feet of water. Shakyheads are also good in submerged timber in 3-6 feet of water, especially when a Lake Fork Tackle Baby ring fry is in use. The crappie bite at Fork is heating up as November approaches, as slabs are moving into creek channels and suspending at depths of 12-26-feet of water. Best crappie baits at Fork are minnows and jigs…At the Blue River near Tishomingo, the river elevation is normal, the water is clear, and the water temp is 66 degrees as the wintertime trout season continues to approach. For now, ODWC reports that largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass are good on crankbaits, spinnerbaits and topwater lures fished around brushy structure, channel braids, and rocks…At McGee Creek in Oklahoma, the lake elevation is below normal, the water temperature is 72 degrees, and the water is lightly stained to clear. ODWC says that largemouth bass and spotted bass are good on crankbaits, jigs, and topwater lures fished around coves, points, and submerged rocks…On the Upper Texas Gulf Coast at the Bolivar Peninsula, TPWD reports that the fall fishing has been great this past week. Many reports of bull redfish, flounder, redfish, and jackfish are coming in and most catches are coming on live finger mullet, fresh cut bait, or squid. As with other areas of the coast, TPWD urges anglers to get in their final flounder fix over the next few days since the catching season closes from Nov. 1 until Dec. 14…On the Middle Coast at West Matagorda Bay, the shrimp migration continues, and TPWD says that the fishing is good. Follow the bird activity for schooling fish. Drifting or wade fishing for redfish and flounder is also good for those using artificial lures or live shrimp. Also, wade fish the drains for flounder prior to the Nov. 1-Dec. 14 closure…On the Middle Coast at Port O'Connor, TPWD says that a few 5-20 pound tarpon continue to be caught using live croaker...On the Middle Coast at Rockport, TPWD says that redfish are good in the flooded grass biting finger mullet. Redfish and scattered trout have been caught along the jetties and in the surf on croaker and mullet freelined. Flounder are good near structure and docks for anglers who are dragging minnows along the bottom…On the Lower Coast at South Padre Island, a strong blue norther blew through at midweek and the expected cool nights through the weekend will play a role in angler success. Point of note, TPWD says that big schools of mostly oversized spawning redfish are heading for the Gulf right now. Redfish are strung out along the spoil banks to the north, on Gas Well Flats, and on the edge of the sand on the east side to the saucer. Trout are still hugging the edge of the Intracoastal Highway, but are mostly undersized…

Tip of the Week

TPWD reminds waterfowl hunters gearing up across the state in anticipation of opening day to know that they play a key role in helping contain and avoid the additional spread of invasive species like giant salvinia and zebra mussels from one water body to another. Because of that increasing and ongoing need, TPWD is urging waterfowl hunters to do their part by cleaning, draining, and drying their boats and equipment after a day in the duck blind. That includes decoys and other hunting gear, by the way, and those pieces of duck hunting gear should be cleaned, drained, and dried before anglers travel from lake to lake this upcoming season.