At the end of each year, I always reflect on all the good times I had outdoors and the wonderful people I had the privilege to spend time with. Every year, you could almost “adjust your watch” for a year outside. Beginning with white bass and striper fishing in late winter during spawning, then in spring, turkey season and when the water warms up around April, fishing for most species begins to decline. warm up. Then, in the fall, the hunting seasons resume. Outdoor life has been a glorious merry-go-round for me, each taking place at around the same time every year.
But the start of a new year is also the time to anticipate what lies ahead. For many deer hunters, the season ends at the end of the general season on January 2 in north Texas and January 16 in the south. Deer hunting is permitted on ranches managed by TPWD until the end of February. On these ranches, tags are issued by TPWD to the owner / manager and are used on deer slaughtered rather than tags on the hunting license. If you have used all of the deer tags on your hunting license, it is still legal to hunt a TPWD managed ranch and tag your deer with one of the special tags.
The muzzleloading season opens in 90 of our 254 counties from January 3 to January 16 and offers hunters another end of season opportunity to hunt both buck and doe.
Although there is no “official” season for hunting wild hogs, for many hunters it begins at the end of the deer season. Wild pigs are often in the best condition of the year right now after months of hitting deer corn feeders and eating hard mast crops such as pecans and acorns. Now is the perfect time to cut back on pigs and put wild pork in the freezer in the freezer.
I really enjoy winter fishing for species such as catfish, crappie, striper and white bass. With the weather much milder than normal in December, anglers took advantage of an extended fall bite for many species. The truth is, fishing is often good in the cold months, but the cold temperatures keep many anglers out of the water, but not in recent weeks with temperatures closer to late fall than to heart of winter.
I love catching white bass during the spawning period each year which depending on the rainfall usually starts from mid-February to the end of February. The current causes white bass to move through streams above reservoirs to spawn, and the fishing can be scorching as the “whites” pile up in the deeper holes around the elbows of the streams. Right now many feeder streams are low and we who fish them are hoping that heavy rains at the end of winter will trigger the run. Friends and I look forward to enjoying a lunch of freshly caught white bass fillets, cooked over a wood fire each year after a morning spent throwing Roadrunner Jigs into low-flow water. Hope we won’t be disappointed this year!
Shallow water spring crappie fishing while spawning and turkey hunting often go hand in hand for me and both activities will be here before we know it. Usually by the time I put on my “brook fishing” white bass tackle, I start “playing” with my turkey calls and sorting out the poop jigs. I plan to do all of my spring turkey hunt with a bow this year. About a month ago I shot down a gobbler with my bow at the Dale River Ranch and immediately decided to become a Spring Bow Hunter for the turkey. There will be the challenge of shooting the bow without scaring the gobbler. I am currently looking for a lightweight retractable shade that is quick and easy to install. It is much easier to shoot a bow without scaring the game inside a blind. My plan is to set up close (but not too close) to the feeders and place a lure about 25 yards away. After shooting that gobbler this fall on the Dale River Ranch, the herd immediately calmed down and I could easily have fired another shot. With a shotgun, one shot and you’re done.
I have a winter stripper trip planned on Lake Texoma with Striper Express in a few weeks. We plan to use the “thumper” method of using an automatic thumper that raises and lowers a rubber mallet to “bang” the bottom of the boat. Stripers and white bass are also drawn to sound. With good sonar, you can actually watch the fish concentrate under the boat. The longer the thumps, the more fish appear. It is often possible to limit without moving the boat if you are in the right place.
White bass fishing has been excellent at Lake Tawakoni in recent weeks. I have a trip planned soon with guide Brandon Sargent. He hammered fish holding onto the structure using three-quarter-ounce slabs with a green glow pattern.
There is plenty to do outdoors, even in the dead of winter. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that squirrel season is still underway in East Texas and never ends in the rest of the state. I wanted a pan full of smothered squirrel, rice and gravy; need to check the scope on my .22 soon. I just know the flat oak that I want to hunt.
Next week’s column will hopefully give details of a successful fishing trip or squirrel hunt or…. Who knows what! GOOD YEAR!
Contact outdoor writer Luke Clayton through his website www.catfishradio.org