Outdoor Notes — Free Fishing Days, New invasive at Fork and BPT’s Big Bass Derby

Lynn Burkhead
Herald Democrat

As Texas and Oklahoma both continue to cautiously reopen their states from the COVID-19 shutdown, this weekend marks a great way to get outside, soak up some sunshine and participate in some outdoors recreation in a safe manner.

What’s that activity? Fishing, of course, something that will be free on both sides of the Red River. In Texas, Free Fishing Day is tomorrow on Saturday, June 6, while in Oklahoma, Free Fishing Weekend runs Saturday and Sunday, June 6-7.

In Oklahoma, free fishing is a tradition that was started almost 40 years ago when the state was the first in the nation to offer such an activity. The Sooner State emphasis on helping to get others outdoors and onto the water for a couple of free days of fishing has since spread to numerous other states across the nation, Texas included.

“The Department's Free Fishing Days can help us introduce new anglers and ensure that great fishing and habitat work will continue for years to come. There's no excuse not to take someone fishing on June 6 and 7. The weather is usually nice, the fishing is great and, best of all, it's free."

While fishing license fees are waived on both sides of the Red River (for one day in Texas, two days in Oklahoma), it is important to note that limits, size restrictions, and other regulations still apply. Check out www.wildlifedepartment.com for Oklahoma’s regs and www.tpwd.texas.gov for Lone Star State regs.

Also note that even though the outdoors are open in Texas and Oklahoma, the battle against COVID-19 continues. Both states continue to struggle with the pathway forward out of the pandemic, so be sure to heed state and local health recommendations as well as practicing social distancing while out on the water.

New Invasive at Fork — In recent years, an increasing number of invasive species, most harmful, seem intent on making the state of Texas their home.

From invasive zebra mussels steadily spreading through the Lone Star State — which got their start, by the way, in Lake Texoma a little more than a decade ago — to Eurasian collared doves to various plants that can wreak havoc on wildlife and aquatic habitat, the ongoing battle to combat these potentially harmful pests moves on.

Now, you can add common salvinia to that list — an invasive aquatic plant that officials with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department recently confirmed at Lake Fork.

Found on the big bass water near Emory, the new invasive was confirmed after a vegetation survey was conducted on May 19, 2020. During that survey, TPWD says that the common salvinia was found in the White Oak Creek Cove, the same cove where giant salvinia was found in 2018 and eventually eradicated there by the agency.

While the giant salvinia is easier to detect, TPWD says this new pest isn’t as easy to see since it is often mixed in with other forms of aquatic vegetation and can be difficult to see because of that trend.

While the news is unwelcome, TPWD said in a news release that common salvinia “…typically does not grow as large as its more aggressive relative but can create issues like giant salvinia infestations by limiting recreational access and shading out native aquatic species, thereby reducing dissolved oxygen levels in water under the thick mats.”

The hope is that the agency can work hard at eradication efforts and see some positive results along with keeping the plant from spreading elsewhere.

BPT Heavy Hitter Starts — For anglers with Major League Fishing’s Bass Pro Tour, the restart button is about to get pushed as the circuit heads for the legendary big bass waters of central Florida later this weekend.

That Bass Pro Tour restart occurs this Sunday morning when the unique Heavy Hitters event begins on the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes near Orlando, Fla. The unique event, which will center on catching the day’s heaviest single fish, will be live streamed at www.majorleaguefishing.com.

As one of the most legendary lunker fisheries in the country, expect plenty of big bass approaching double digit weights to be caught by BPT pros like Kevin VanDam, Edwin Evers, Ott DeFoe, Kelly Jordon, Shaw Grigsby, Greg Hackney, and more.

Want to see the action as it happens? MLF says that MLF Now! streaming action will start each morning at 5:45 a.m. (CDT) and then again in the afternoon as angler’s complete the day of competition beginning at 2:30 p.m. (CDT).

Also about to restart is the Bassmasters Elite Series tour, which will kick off its rescheduled series soon with the June 10-13 Elite Series event at Alabama’s Lake Eufaula (streaming action can be found at www.bassmaster.com).

By month’s end, the FLW Pro Circuit will be back in action too, holding its first of three Super Tournaments at Tennessee’s Lake Chickamauga from June 23-26 (streaming action can be found at www.flwfishing.com).