Outdoors Digest

By Lynn Burkhead
For the Herald Democrat

Calendar

Through Feb. 7 – Second split of Oklahoma white-fronted goose season.

Through Feb. 14 – Second split of Oklahoma light and dark goose season.

Through Feb. 14 – Texas West Zone light and dark goose season.

Through Feb. 15 - Oklahoma quail season.

Through Feb. 28 – Texas quail season.

Feb. 6 – 17th annual Family Fellowship Trout Derby at Denison’s Waterloo Lake Park Pond. For information, call Denison Parks and Rec at (903) 463-1115 or visit the City of Denison’s website at www.cityofdenison.com.

Feb. 21-25, 2021 – MLF REDCREST Championship on East Texas’ Lake Palestine.

Feb. 22-26 – ODWC Virtual Rack Madness Event. Visit www.wildlifedepartment.com for information.

Feb. 26 - TPWD rainbow trout stocking at Denison's Waterloo Lake Park Pond.

Feb. 27 – 22nd annual Youth Trout Derby at Denison’s Waterloo Lake Park Pond. For information, call Denison Parks and Rec at (903) 463-1115 or visit the City of Denison’s website at www.cityofdenison.com.

Feb. 28 – JC Outdoors Lake Texoma Spring Team tournament out of Alberta Creek. For info, visit the JC Outdoors Facebook page or call (214) 773-5451.

Notes

TPWD says in a news release that its state park rangers will be debuting a new series of virtual programs through February to help celebrate the annual Black History Month across the nation. “Black history is really everyone’s history, and our rangers want to support Black History Month by bringing more diverse stories to the forefront of Texas State Parks for our visitors,” said Jessica Lagalo, TPWD’s outdoor education and outreach manager for Texas State Parks, in that news release. “The awareness that African Americans were some of the first Park Rangers, the first Forest Firefighters, the first Mountain Bikers is so incredibly relevant to the history and stewardship of Texas State Parks. Without the efforts of Black Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Companies, much of the infrastructure of Texas State Parks would not be here today.”…TPWD says in its news release that the month-long online initiative hopes to encourage Texans of all ages to learn more about the contributions and achievements of African Americans in conservation, the great outdoors, and within our state and national parks. The series will consist of 15 different programs to be broadcast live from the Buffalo Soldier Heritage Outreach Program Facebook page at 6 p.m. on select weekdays. Saturday programs will be live streamed at 1 p.m. from various Texas State Parks across the state, including Ray Roberts Lake State Park, Cedar Hill State Park, Brazos Bend State Park, and Tyler State Park…TPWD says that programs will include such topics as the work of the Civilian Conservation Corps at Huntsville State Park, tales of the Buffalo Soldiers, the role of Seminole Scouts in Texas history, and more… The series will culminate in a free live Black History Month Trivia Challenge for the public at 6 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 27, on the Kahoot App. Instructions to sign up a Trivia Team will be posted on the Buffalo Soldier’s Facebook page according to the agency…For more information about the Buffalo Soldier program or this month’s series, call TPWD at 1-800-792-1112, visit the TPWD website at www.tpwd.texas.gov , contact Jessica Lagalo at Jessica.Lagalo@tpwd.texas.gov or Buffalo Solider Heritage Outreach Program Coordinator Luis Padilla at Luis.Padilla@tpwd.texas.gov …At this week’s Oklahoma Wildlife Commissioners meeting, commissioners viewed a presentation about native, nongame fish species and the potential effects of bowfishing on those populations. ODWC notes that its senior fisheries biologist, Jason Schooley, recently published research on the topic, which the agency says is very scarce nationally. According to ODWC, Schooley reports that these native fish do not compete with game fish, and some of these species can live very long lives including up to 98-years for alligator gar and 106-years for bigmouth buffalo. Schooley said that the females of these species are the oldest and largest ones and that they have the greatest effect on sustainable populations. He also notes that the older and larger nongame fish are often the preferred targets for bowfishers in the state….Commissioners also heard from Scott Alls, Oklahoma state director of USDA APHIS Wildlife Services, who gave an update on efforts to control feral hogs in the Sooner State. Alls said lethal baits will be tested this spring in other states, using bait boxes that can be opened remotely when the wild swine are present. Pending successful testing, Alls said he expects that control method will be approved for widespread use...Meanwhile, legislative liaison Corey Jager summarized the 30 wildlife-related bills that have been filed for the current session of the Oklahoma Legislature. Those include SB 774, which is an ODWC-request bill to allow the Department to overhaul its license structure, and HB 2721, which would prohibit the waste of edible meat from wildlife…Finally, as COVID-19 precautions continue, ODWC director J.D. Strong reported on the agency’s plans for a virtual “Rack Madness” event Feb. 22-26 on social media. The weeklong series of live feeds will focus on topics such as how to score typical and nontypical racks, along with discussions about the most recent deer seasons in Oklahoma.... B.A.S.S. officials cancelled Thursday’s second day of competition at the TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Western Regional at Lake Havasu, Arizona. The reason? Sustained winds of 25 mph and gusts over 40, making the renowned western fishery unsafe as winds blew right down the heart of the lake. The tournament will conclude—weather permitting—with the full field of 177 anglers competing today…

Hunting Report

 The 2020-21 duck season closed last weekend in both Texas and Oklahoma, putting a cap on what some described as a good season while others called it a challenging one…Dakota Stowers and his guides at North Texas Outfitters enjoyed a few final good shoots out near Waurika, Okla. late last week. A hunt last weekend produced a near limit shoot despite a 30 mph wind that made shooting difficult on decoying birds. The day before, one hunt had only a few ducks bagged, but not because of lack of opportunity. On a morning when the sky was full of migrating pintails pushing back north, NTO wrote on its Instagram post that “Days like today, you wish the pintail limit was 6 each. The sights that were seen today will not soon be forgotten!”…In south-central Oklahoma, one poster from Ardmore summarized the recently completed season on the Ducks Unlimited app, noting that while this past season wasn’t as good as what he called the “…glory days of 2009-14,” the recently completed season wasn’t too bad either. In reporting on the 22 hunts that he and a longtime hunting partner enjoyed, the year-end total was 105 ducks taken. “In general, there were more ducks around Ardmore this year,” the post read. “The action was always pretty fair. No complaints. Thankful for our safety and for our landowners. God is good!”…After the closure of duck hunting season in both Texas and Oklahoma last Sunday, the 2020-21 waterfowl hunting season calendar is down to goose hunting in the Sooner State and west Texas. The second split of Oklahoma’s white-fronted goose season concludes this Sunday, Feb. 7 while the second split of the Sooner State’s light and dark goose season concludes next weekend on Valentine’s Day. In Texas, goose hunting has ended in the East Zone but continues through Valentine’s Day in the West Zone for both light and dark geese…Quail hunting campaigns are also wrapping up later this month on both sides of the Red River. Oklahoma’s current quail season will end on Feb. 15 while the current Texas quail season will conclude on Feb. 28…Texas hunters who took a big whitetail, mule deer, pronghorn antelope, or first big game animal harvest during the 2020-21 season are reminded that the postmark deadline to enter this year’s Texas Big Game Awards Program is March 1. For information, visit www.texasbiggameawards.org...

Fishing Reports

At Lake Texoma, water is clear; water temp is 48 degrees; and the lake is 0.02 low. TPWD says that striped bass are good on shad-like swimbaits and live shad. White bass are fair on slabs and jigging spoons. Largemouth bass are fair on soft plastic swimbaits, crankbaits, jerkbaits and flutter spoons fished in 15-30’ of water. Crappie are fair on minnows and white jigs fished near deep boathouses, timber, and brush piles in 18-32’ of water. Catfish are good on fresh cut bait and punch bait.…Meanwhile, ODWC says that Texoma's wintertime fishing action continues to be good over the past week, particularly for striped bass anglers fishing in the northern and western ends of the lake. The agency says that striped bass are good on flukes, Sassy Shad, and live shad in the main lake itself, around points and near the river channels. ODWC says that Texoma’s blue catfish continue to be good on live shad and sunfish along river channels, creek channels, and in main lake channels. Blue cats have also remained good on juglines at 30-40 ft. depths according to ODWC….At Lake Ray Roberts, site of the 51st Bassmaster Classic from June 11-13, water is clear; water temp is 50 degrees; and the lake is 0.46 low. TPWD says that largemouth bass are slow on drop shots, jerkbaits, and football jigs fished near drop-offs, timber, points, and the dam. White bass are slow in 25-45’ of water on slabs fished near main lake points, flats and drop-offs. Crappie are slow on minnows and small jigs fished near brush piles and the dam.…At Lake Palestine, site of this month’s Major League Fishing / Bass Pro Tour 2021 REDCREST Championship from Feb. 21-25, TPWD reports a 13.02-pound ShareLunker was caught last weekend. The agency says that water remains clear at Palestine; water temp is 50 degrees; and the lake is 0.40 high. Largemouth bass are fair for anglers working swimbaits, skirted jigs, soft plastic craws, and diving crankbaits near boat docks, creek bends, ledges, and rocky coves…At Lake Fork, water is lightly stained; water temp is 47-50 degrees; and the lake is 0.69 low. TPWD says that largemouth bass are fair on spoons, black or red finesse worms, medium crankbaits, and flipping jigs fished near deep points, roadbeds, brush piles, timber, and rocky shorelines. Crappie are fair on minnows and jigs in 28-45’. … At Lake of the Arbuckle’s near Sulphur, Okla., ODWC says that the lake’s elevation is normal; the water temp is 46 degrees; and water conditions are clear. Bass are slow on Alabama-rigs, crankbaits and Shakyhead worms in June bug colors. Crappie and white bass are being caught on spoons and jigs in the mid-lake area on 34-60 ft. ledges…There is no current report this week from the Blue River near Tishomingo where ODWC’s wintertime put-and-take trout season continues through the end of March …As wintertime saltwater fishing continues along the Texas Gulf Coast, TPWD says that at Sabine Lake, speckled trout and redfish are good on crankbaits fished near the rocks…Meanwhile, redfish, speckled trout and black drum are good in Port Aransas for those fishing near the rigs and along the jetty rocks with live shrimp or mullet…And finally, as February’s season for big “gator-sized” speckled trout begins in Baffin Bay and other nearby South Texas coastal waters, TPWD says that big trout are going to be found working under the birds right now and for those anglers drifting the edge of the shoreline as fish chase mullet…

Tip of the Week

Tomorrow is the day for the 17th annual Family Fellowship Trout Derby at Denison’s Waterloo Lake Park Pond. The Saturday, Feb. 6 event is being held from 9 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. and comes after the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department stocked more than 1,500+ catchable size rainbow trout earlier in the week.  While pre-registration is full due to COVID-19 restrictions, there may be the chance for onsite registration on Saturday due to no-shows or anglers who limit out early. For information call Denison Parks and Rec at (903) 463-1115 or visit the City of Denison’s website at www.cityofdenison.com .