Outdoors Notebook — Local fly-tying, capitol tree and gun deer proposal

Lynn Burkhead
For the Herald Democrat

While concern is building for yet another variant in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the world continues to move on towards some kind of normalcy.

And that includes the fly fishing world, where after a one year absence, the Red River Fly Fishers club is putting its plans together for their annual fly tying expo.

That happens early next year during a Feb. 4-5, 2022 run that is scheduled for the Red River Rendezvous Fly Tying Extravaganza at Eisenhower State Park’s Recreation Hall not far from the shoreline of Lake Texoma.

According to the RRFF.org website, the event’s fly tying setup is from 2-7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 4. Dinner will be provided, but tyers will need to bring their own drinks. The next day on Saturday, Feb. 5, the day’s fly tying extravaganza — which has often attracted some of the sport’s biggest names in North Texas, will run from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m. Breakfast and lunch are provided, but again, drinks are not.

According to RRFF organizers, this event will serve as a great way to kick off the year’s fishing, to tie up a good inventory of flies, to visit with old friends, and to make some new friends.  The event features a wide array of fly tying experience, from beginners all the way up to FFI Silver Award winning tiers.

All in all, it’s a casual group with no set agenda, so come prepared to tie as much as you want, to step outside and practice our casting, or to even take your newest fly creation out to the nearby waters of Lake Texoma where a wintertime striped bass or smallmouth bass might be lurking.

For those traveling in for the event, the RRFF says that Eisenhower has a number of great campsites available, including some full hookups for RV’s. There are also several hotels in the Denison and Sherman area for those who aren’t wanting to take a chance on roughing it in the middle of winter.

Park admission is $5 for adults, although children 12 and under are admitted for free. If you have an annual state park admission’s pass, that will get you through the door too.

For information, visit the Red River Fly Fisher’s website at www.rrff.org or e-mail the group at rrflyfishers@yahoo.com.

State Capitol Christmas Tree's Texoma Roots — According to Bing Crosby, it’s beginning to look at lot like Christmas.

And that’s not just true locally, but also down in the capitol city of Austin where the State Capitol Christmas tree is getting ready for the holiday season.

According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the Capitol Christmas tree will has some deep Texomaland roots, quite literally.

Why is that? Because the tree was delivered by Eisenhower State Park staff a few days ago, along with the 2021 Texas State Park ornament. According to a TPWD news release, the Texas State Parks system has provided Christmas trees to the Texas State Capitol for more than 40 years now.

Some 20-feet high, the tree was delivered earlier in the week on Monday, Nov. 29 to the House of Representatives. Known as Mamie III, TPWD says that the tree is named after former First Lady Mamie Geneva Eisenhower. A Virginia Pine, the tree was grown and harvested from a tree farm near Eisenhower State Park.

Grayson Gun Deer Proposal — In case you missed it last Friday, it looks like there will be another run made at brining a gun deer season to Grayson County.

That news item comes after a look at the agenda for the Nov. 3, 2021 work session for the TPW Commission (https://tpwd.texas.gov/business/feedback/meetings/2022/1104/agenda/work_session/#item_10).

That agenda shows that the Commission will consider a potential regulation change that would “Allow take of white-tailed deer by firearm during general and youth seasons, and on Managed Land Deer Permit properties in Collin, Dallas, Grayson, and Rockwall counties. Require mandatory harvest reporting of buck and antlerless deer in conjunction with changes to method of take.”

As noted last week, Grayson County, has had a general season for white-tailed deer with the means and method of take restricted to lawful archery and crossbow gear for two decades now. That season was first allowed by TPWD back in 1999 after years of the local woods having only an October archery season due to low whitetail numbers.

Also noted is the that the same archery-only general season structure has also been implemented successfully by TPWD in Collin, Rockwall, and Dallas counties too. All of those counties share similarities with Grayson County, from low overall whitetail numbers to limited habitat to urban expansion that continues to fragment the existing deer habitat.

The proposal to change the current regulation structure reportedly comes after a petition was received by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department earlier in the year. As noted last week, strong opinions are building once again towards the potential change. While it remains to be seen what the outcry and final outcome will be, social media posts and comments from local citizens seems to mirror the fiery opposition that similar proposals brought earlier in the 21st Century. Stay tuned, there will likely be more to come.

Oklahoma Bass Reg Proposal — Controversy could also be building soon on the north side of the Red River after news broke earlier in the week that the Fisheries Division of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is considering a big change to the Sooner State’s largemouth bass regulations.

According to an ODWC news release, the department’s Fisheries Division has proposed a rule change that would allow anglers to keep smaller, more abundant largemouth and smallmouth bass.

Specifically, the proposal aims to remove the 14-inch minimum length limit from lakes and reservoirs, and would allow anglers to keep only one bass greater than 16 inches daily.

 If approved, the ODWC news release indicates that biologists anticipate a positive impact to take place in regard to the overall quality of Oklahoma’s black bass populations. 

In addition to the proposed rule change, the Fisheries Division has also requested a black bass tournament exemption, which will be free to obtain.  

The agency says that the public comment period for this proposed regulation change is open as of this first week of December and comments can be made on the ODWC website or by e-mail.

Comments may be made through Jan. 7, 2022 and a public hearing will be held a day earlier on Jan. 6 at the ODWC headquarters in Oklahoma City. For more information or to comment, please visit www.wildlifedepartment.com .