Outdoors Digest

Lynn Burkhead
For the Herald Democrat


Through May 14 – Texas Eastern turkey spring season including Grayson, Fannin, and Lamar counties.

Through May 16 – Texas North Zone Rio Grande spring turkey season.

May 15-16 – Texas High School Bass Association State Championship Tournament on Lake Texoma with launches and weigh-ins at the Denison Dam launch site.

June 11-13, 2021 – 51st Bassmaster Classic on Lake Ray Roberts (rescheduled from March 19-21).

Sept. 1-Nov. 12 – First split of the Texas North Zone dove hunting season.


Herald Democrat outdoors writer Lynn Burkhead wants to wish his mom, Phyllis, a happy birthday today…The Texas High School Bass Association State Championship Tournament is now a week away at Lake Texoma. Dozens of high school teams from around the state will compete on Texoma with launches and weigh-ins for the May 15-16 event taking place at the Denison Dam launch site at Lake Texoma. Look for a detailed report in this high school bass fishing derby in next week’s Herald Democrat Outdoors…TPWD says that the private recreational angler red snapper season in federal water opens up on Tuesday, June 1, 2021. Bag and size limits will remain unchanged according to an agency news release…. TPWD says that the regulations are 2 fish per person daily with a 16-inch minimum size limit in federal waters, and 4 fish per person daily with a 15-inch minimum in state waters…The Austin based agency says that red snapper caught in federal waters count as part of the state bag limit of 4 fish. Also, no more than 4 red snapper may be in an angler’s possession while fishing in state waters and no more than 2 in federal waters…TPWD says that since 2018, the National Marine Fisheries Service has given the agency the authority to establish the opening and closing of the red snapper fishery in federal waters off of the Lone Star State’s coastline recreational anglers using their own vessels to fish. The federally permitted for-hire sector of the angling community continues to be managed in a season structure set by the feds…While the season length is still being determined by TPWD’s coastal fisheries biologist, the agency says that it will notify the public through its website, news releases, and social media posts… TPWD says that it has detected invasive zebra mussels at Lake Brownwood in the Colorado River Basin, southeast of Abilene. The discovery came when zebra mussel larvae were detected in plankton samples collected at two sites approximately three miles apart at Lake Brownwood in November. The agency says that this is now the second lake in the Upper Colorado River Basin where the invasive species has been detected. While no adult zebra mussels have been found at the lake so far, TPWD notes that this discovery means that the species continues to push westward in Texas…At the Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour event that concluded earlier this week on Central Texas’ Lake Travis, Jason Wheeler took home the big trophy and payday after a Championship Day effort that saw him catch 13 bass for 28-pounds, 13-ounces. That was enough for Wheeler to outlast runner-up Bobby Lane by only two-ounces, giving him his third Bass Pro Tour victory and sixth MLF victory including the made for television MLF Cup competition. The win came after Wheeler gambled and went up the Colorado River while other final day competitors stayed on Lake Travis. “My heart is still pounding because it was a battle all day long,” Wheeler said to MajorLeagueFishing.com shortly after his win. “I knew I was going to have to get some bites in the morning if I wanted to win, and luckily I did that. It was the afternoon that made it interesting and I was really fortunate to catch enough early to hold on and get the win.” Veteran Texas bass fishing pro Keith Combs used his knowledge of his home lake, Sam Rayburn, to go wire to wire a few days ago and claim the recent MLF Toyota Series event on the southeast Texas bass fishery…Heavy rains and high water scrubbed yesterday’s first round of this weekend’s Bassmaster Elite Series derby on Alabama’s Neely Henry Lake. The tournament is scheduled to begin today and will now conclude on Monday…

Hunting Report

The 2021 spring turkey season has concluded in South Texas, ending last Sunday, May 2. Most hunters reported a fair to good season, with a number of mature gobblers getting taken down south. Meanwhile, this spring’s turkey season ended yesterday all across Oklahoma as well. While some hunters found success this year in the Sooner State, the hunting was a bit challenging for many others after a decline in gobbler numbers in recent years….The 2021 spring turkey season still has a few days left on the south side of the Red River as the gobbler getting campaign approaches the finish line. The 2021 spring season runs to May 14 in Grayson County, Fannin County, and the other counties falling under the Lone Star State’s Eastern turkey hunting regulations package. Meanwhile, in the Texas North Zone for Rio Grandes, the season concludes on May 16…There’s little turkey hunting news to report this week as some hunters have seen their opportunities come to a halt with the closing of the season in South Texas and across Oklahoma. And in the spots that remain open in North and East Texas, not many reports of turkey hunting success have been received. But as the saying goes, you can’t fill a tag if you don’t go…

Fishing Reports

 At Lake Texoma, water is lightly stained; water temps are 60-64 degrees; and the lake is now 1.65 high. TPWD reports that striped bass are excellent on live bait in the river channel and tributaries. White bass are excellent on swimbaits, slabs, small crankbaits, and spoons. Largemouth bass are excellent for those fishing topwaters, crankbaits, soft plastic lizards, and Chatterbaits in 2-16' depth range. Crappie are good on minnows and jigs fished near boathouses, creeks, and brush piles...At Lake Ray Roberts, site of next month’s 51st Bassmaster Classic from June 11-13, water is stained; water temps are 63-67 degrees; and the lake is now 1.35 high. TPWD says that largemouth bass are good on spinnerbaits, crankbaits, hollow bodied frogs, and flipping jigs fished near coves, shorelines, and flats in 2-14 feet of water. White bass are good in 12-40 feet zones on live bait, slabs, and swimbaits fished near main lake points, flats, and the river channel. Look for birds diving over feeding schools of white bass to get in on the good angling action. Crappie are fair on minnows and jigs fished around docks, bridge columns, in the creeks and in the river channel...At Lake Fork, water is stained; water temps are 62-67 degrees; and the lake is 0.45 high. TPWD says that largemouth bass are excellent on crankbaits, hollow bodied frogs, spinnerbaits, Chatterbaits, and skirted jigs fished in 4 -16 foot depths.Crappie are excellent on minnows and jigs fished near docks and creeks...At the Blue River near Tishomingo, ODWD says the trout action has dropped off to fair as the weeks continue since the winter season’s last stocking in March…On the Texas Gulf Coast at Port O’Connor, TPWD says that speckled trout and redfish are being found by anglers fishing around the pass on sandy flats that feature some scattered grass beds or nearby reefs. The agency says to catch speckled trout and reds at POC right now, thow topwaters in the morning or soft plastics. Black drum are good on shrimp in the area, as are flounder on the rocks…

Tip of the Week

Got an old wise-guy longbeard that has been giving you the slip all turkey season? Slip in quietly to within a couple of hundred yards of where the old boy is roosting and don’t use a headlamp or flashlight in getting to your hunting spot. Once there, play the quiet game and utter only a couple of soft yelps before shooting time to let the tom know you are there. After that, let the longbeard’s curiosity get the best of him. Sometimes, as the season wanes, such tactics can lure in a cagey old tom, even if he never utters a peep until you hear his drumming sounds as he struts into shotgun range. When that happens, don’t miss because it could be the spring season’s final shooting opportunity!