There is so much going on in the outdoors this time of year that I thought we would do a ‘smorgasbord’ column this week to help you decide the activity that best suits your schedule and interest. We’ll cover several activities and give you contacts for folks that can help put you in the action.
FLOAT A RIVER – John Bryan is in charge of the hunting and fishing on the Holt River Ranch in Palo Pinto County. John guides anglers on several miles of the Brazos River that join the ranch. Fishing has been excellent for native black bass, Spotted Bass and catfish.
This is the Post Oak Bend area of the Brazos and the scenery is breathtaking with sheer rock cliffs and secluded valleys. It’s a great place to float in a canoe or small boat but access to the river is limited.
Paddlers that wish to do self guided float trips should study maps of the section of river they plan to float and have pre determined spots to put in and take out.
On rivers such as the Brazos, it’s often necessary to float several miles to highways where access to the waterway is allowed. For information on fishing this section of the Brazos, give Bryan a call at (940) 452-3415 or go online to www.holtriverranch.com.
BREAM ON BEDS – About this time every year, bream go into their annual spawn and the action is often non-stop for these feisty little scrappers. Finding a good spot to fish for bream it easy, they are in just about every municipal pond, lake and river in the country.
Bream (sunfish) is the perfect fish to introduce new anglers to fishing, but veteran fly fishermen also target them with downsized popping bugs.
An inexpensive spin cast rod, a few earthworms or even bits of biscuit dough, a floater, weights and long shank bream hook is all it takes to introduce a kid to fishing. Finding nesting bream is easy.
Look for oval shaped, fanned out areas in water 2-4 feet deep. Find a spot where bream are nesting and it’s common to catch several from the same area.
The trick is to sway a long cast away from the fish, cast past them, then crank the bait up to their nesting area. Bream, although small, are excellent eating. I grew up eating them with heads removed, scaled and fried bones and all. These days, I use a small fillet knife and remove the fillets, eliminating the problem of small bones.
TURKEY SEASON STILL UNDER WAY – Many hunters target gobblers during the first couple weeks of the season but late season hunts can be rewarding.
The theory is that many of the hens are now on nests and the gobblers have to stay on the move more in search of mates. I’ve been disappointed on early season hunts when gobblers were with flocks of receptive hens.
It’s tough to call a mature gobbler away from the very thing he’s seeking: the companionship of hens! The next couple weeks should provide some excellent turkey hunting.
Calling in a gobbler during the spring season is most definitely one of the most exciting endeavors in the outdoors. I’ve hunted turkeys for a quarter-century and no two hunts have ever unfolded exactly the same.
My good friend and frequent hunting companion, outdoors writer Bob Hood, has probably harvested more wild turkeys than anyone I know. Bob has a saying, “patience kills more gobblers than anything.” He is alluding to the fact that if you know you’re in an areas frequented by turkeys, stay put and give the bird time to come to you.
On many past occasions, I can remember becoming impatient and spooking birds that might have come to my calling, had I only stayed put and waited them out. Sometimes, though, moving around a bit can help you bag your bird. If you’re getting a gobbler to respond to your calling but he’s not coming in, try changing locations and resume your calling.
Turkeys have the ability to lock in on the origin of sounds and a caller on the move makes the gobbler think the receptive hen is on the move. He will often close the distance and come strutting within shotgun range!
SPRING SQUIRREL SEASON – In many areas, squirrels can be hunted year around but in the east Texas counties, there’s a special spring season (May 1 to 31).
The woods are full of ‘fryer’ squirrels in May. Young born back in the winter are reaching maturity and providing great sport and excellent eating for hunters wishing for one more opportunity to take to the woods.
Squirrel hunting is not nearly as popular is it was thirty or forty years ago. Hunting big game such as the white tailed deer dominates the calendar of the majority of hunters.
Squirrels can be taken with a shotgun or rifle.
An accurate semi-auto .22 with a quality scope, to my way of thinking, is the ultimate challenge for the rifleman.
The red or ‘Fox’ squirrel will set tight a little better than it’s cousin the grey or ‘Cat’ squirrel. Although many squirrels have been taken by hunters wearing blue jeans and checkered shirts in years past, good camo definitely increases the chances of getting close to these wary little critters. Pick a spot where you see fresh ‘cuttings’ (chewed pieces of new growth limbs), set tight and wait for the squirrels to begin feeding. Early morning is best for hunting grey squirrels but Fox squirrels often feed during mid-morning.
CATFISH MOVING TO DEEPER WATER – Catfish are just beginning to bite over holes baited with soured grain.
A coffee can of soured grain or cattle range cubes distributed under the boat is a good way to concentrate whiskerfish.
Savvy anglers choose the waters around the edge of isolated trees, often close to submerged creek or river channels, to distribute grain and they often bait the same areas throughout the warm weather months. Catfish will hit many type of baits but Magic Baits (www.magicbait.com) produces a variety of catfish catching baits that are easy to fish with and highly effective.
Hopefully, one of more of these activities will spark you to get out and enjoy the outdoors. As you can see, there’s lots going on right now!