Outdoors

With our warming weather, it’s guaranteed that snakes, and lots of them, are slithering around somewhere near you and me.

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I’ve got good news and bad news from Sabine Pass. The good news is that the Walter Umphrey State Park pier has finally been rebuilt since it was completely destroyed when Hurricane Rita made landfall between Sabine Pass and Johnson Bayou on Sept. 23, 2005. But the bad news is that the wind has been blowing so much lately that fishing off the pier, and just about anywhere else on Sabine Lake, has been about as bad as it gets.

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Several of the lakes in our state of Texas have been introduced to both striped and hybrid striped bass. These fish do grow to large sizes and offer some really good action for anglers. Lake Livingston and Toledo Bend are great places for taking both species. Sam Rayburn has some hybrids remaining, but none have been introduced since a malfunction at the hatchery. Hybrids are not usually able to reproduce and are available through put-and-take efforts. According to Ronald G. Habron of Southern Region Aquaculture Center, striper can actually spawn.

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As the local saltwater areas become warmer, some super fun outdoor activity picks up. We are fortunate to be in an area where the blue crabs are plentiful. Historically, the pursuit of these tasty crustaceans has been a family adventure. Cold weather means cold water, and the crabs don’t move around much. With the type of winter that has just passed the water was chilled for quite a time. That trend has been changing and with the warmer water comes some really fine times to head out to the areas where the crab action is.

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The water temperature on Sam Rayburn and Toledo Bend has finally topped the 70-degree mark, according to guide Bill Fondren, and with that warming water temperature, crappie are beginning their transition from shallow to deep water.

“They started moving out of the shallows last week,” said Fondren, who runs guided crappie fishing trips on both lakes. “On Sam Rayburn, we’re catching them on the upper end of the lake around brush in about 8 to 11 feet of water. But on Toledo Bend, the most consistent action is over grass in 8 to 10 feet of water.”

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Outdoors folks seem to continually face natural obstacles that give them plenty of excuses for slow fishing days. Sometimes it is too cold, and at other times it is too hot. Then comes the too windy days and then the thunderstorms. All of these things do make conditions uncomfortable for the anglers. At least it does for most folks. There are others, however, who seem to score well no matter what nature seems to put in front of them. I’ve long believed in the old saying that 10 percent of the fishermen will catch 90 percent of the fish.

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The great thing about April in Texas is that this is big bass time, as in double-digit bass, and there is no shortage of lakes that have and still can produce monster class largemouths when they are on the beds and spawning like right now.

But during the past few months, there are three lakes that stick out like a sore thumb when it comes to producing 13-pound-plus bass. They are O.H. Ivie, Austin and Falcon.

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Since it’s springtime and there are so many super outdoor happenings available, I’ll offer a potpourri of choices. Any one or more of them would be a good choice.

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There has long been a tradition of wintertime crappie fishing at the Chicken Coop on Toledo Bend reservoir. That area is north of Milam off Highway 87. There are, however, some really productive crappie fishing areas on not only Toledo Bend but also Sam Rayburn and Lake Livingston. Our local bayous were once very productive crappie fishing waters, but I have no reports since Hurricane Ike’s saltwater surge.

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For those of you who haven’t heard, there has been a proposal brought forth that would effect Texas whitetail deer regulations. Scott Vaca of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in Austin verified the proposal in response to an e-mail that I sent to him. It has been proposed that it to be legal for licensed whitetail deer breeders to slaughter and sell whitetail deer meat. The average hunter or rancher will be excluded from this proposal. Only the elite will be able to sell for meat the animals that were once the property of the Texas taxpayers and hunting license holders.

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