Outdoors Digest

Lynn Burkhead
For the Herald Democrat

Calendar

Through May 2 – Texas South Zone Rio Grande spring turkey season.

April 3-May 16 – Texas North Zone Rio Grande spring turkey season.

April 6-May 6 – Oklahoma spring turkey season.

April 8-11 - Bassmaster Elite Series tournament on the Sabine River near Orange, Texas.

April 19-May 6 – SE Oklahoma spring turkey season.

April 22-May 14 – Texas Eastern turkey spring season including Grayson, Fannin, and Lamar counties.

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

Notes

The MLF Big 5 Toyota Series Southwestern Division tournament is underway on Lake Texoma as Day Two of the March 25-27 event roars out of Catfish Bay Marina this morning. While the anglers were still out on the water as of press time on Thursday, a full report on the big fishing derby will be in next week’s Herald Democrat Outdoors. Presented by A.R.E. Southwestern Division and Abu Garcia, the bigtime fishing event is being hosted by Discover Durant as Texoma’s big largemouths, smallmouths, and spotted bass are being caught in tough pre-spawn conditions. While this week’s rainfall and cold front may scramble patterns, the action should still be good as the 155 pros and their Strike King co-anglers take to the water on the 89,000-acre reservoir. The winning pro this weekend will take home a $40,000 top prize as well as an additional $35,000 bonus prize if that winner is a qualified Phoenix Boat owner…After weather and water conditions forced two days of postponements at Tennessee’s Pickwick Lake, Indiana angler Bill Lowen used an 8-pound, 5-ounce to anchor a Championship Day limit of 20-11, more than enough to win the Bassmaster Elite Series event held last weekend. With a winning total of 20 bass that weighed 83-pounds, 5-ounces, Lowen topped the 20-pound mark three times in four days as he earned his first Elite Series win and claimed a winner’s check of $102,000, which includes the daily and overall Phoenix Boats Big Bass awards. “I had to pitch way up in there so the bait could get down in the current and sweep it through,” Lowen told Bassmaster.com writer David A. Brown. “I felt my jig get into a limb or a piece of brush, and as I hopped the jig over I felt the bite. I hesitated because I wanted to be sure, but when I got big pressure, I set the hook and it was game on.” Lowen added that “There were so many feelings going through my head. You could hear me screaming and hollering and that’s not me. But that’s 14 years of excitement built up for this day. It all came out.” Anglers Brock Mosley (80-11); Cory Johnston (79-0); Steve Kennedy (77-4); and Hank Cherry, Jr. (73-11) rounded out the Top 5…This week, the Bass Pro Tour pros are in East Texas as the series Stage One event for 2021 is contested on Sam Rayburn Reservoir. As of press time during Thursday’s Knockout Round in the event’s semi-final round, anglers above the "Top 10" cutline were Jeff Sprague; Justin Lucas; Alton Jones, Jr.; Bobby Lane; Cliff Crochet; Brent Ehrler; Tommy Biffle; and Luke Clausen. Lurking nearby were Brent Chapman, Freb Roumbanis, Mark Daniels, Jr., and Jeff Kriet. The “Top 10” advance to today’s championship round where weights will be zeroed on Big Sam and anglers will fish for the $100,000 top prize...

Hunting Report

The 2021 spring turkey season in South Texas got underway last weekend and continues through May 2. Realtree Outdoors and David Blanton were filming in the region and had a superb season opener with multiple turkeys responding to calls and being tagged…Here in the Red River Valley, hunters who hunt in North Texas and southern Oklahoma will have to wait another week or so as the Texas North Zone starts on April 3 and the Oklahoma season begins on April (in most of the state, except for the SE region where the season runs from) on April 6, and the Texas Eastern Turkey region (including Grayson, Fannin, and Lamar Counties) begins on April 22…North Texas Outfitters head man Dakota Stowers says that NTO is getting ready for a good spring turkey season out near Waurika, Okla. where he is seeing good numbers of mature birds in recent weeks. On Wednesday, he saw six gobblers strutting and gobbling, a clear indication that the spring turkey breeding season is quickly approaching… There may not be many snow geese left in Oklahoma right now, but for waterfowlers who can find a few, the Oklahoma Conservation Order Light Goose Season (COLGS) has a few more days before the 2021 season concludes on Tuesday, March 30…

Fishing Reports

At Lake Texoma, the water is lightly stained; water temp is 54 degrees; and the lake is 2.76 low. TPWD reports that striped bass are good on swimbaits and live shad. White bass are good on swimbaits, Rooster Tails, small crankbaits, and spoons fished in creek inlets. Largemouth bass are fair for those fishing A-rigs, crankbaits, jerkbaits, and Senkos in 6-12’ of water. Crappie are good on minnows and jigs fished near deep boathouses, timber, and brush piles in 12-25’ depths. Catfish are fair on punch bait and cut bait..…On the Oklahoma side of Texoma, Bryan County game warden Garret Beam says that fishing has been good this week  with anglers catching striped bass with a fair amount of success, on both live shad and Sassy Shads fished along river and creek channels, main lake regions, and points. The game warden says that a lot of fishermen have been catching stripers in the northern part of the lake near the Roosevelt Bridge as the spawning season continues. For blue catfish anglers, fair action is being reported on cut bait, live shad and sunfish fished along creek channels, in main lake regions, and around the river channel. Blue cats are being caught in 25-35’ foot depths on both juglines and rod-and-reels. With the crappie spawning season still a couple of weeks out, crappie fishing is fair on the Oklahoma side with jigs and minnows working best around brushy structure, docks and standing timber. Beam says that the pre-spawn is underway and the bite is fairly consistent at 15-25’ depths… At Lake Ray Roberts, site of the 51st Bassmaster Classic this summer from June 11-13, water is lightly stained; water temp is 59 degrees; and the lake is 0.20 low. TPWD says that largemouth bass are good on lipless crankbaits, jerkbaits, soft plastic craws, and football jigs fished near drop-offs, timber, points, and the dam. White bass are fair in 25-45’ depths on slabs and swimbaits fished near main lake points, creeks, and in the river channel. Crappie are fair on minnows and jigs tossed around docks, bridge columns, and the baitfish schools found near the dam…At Lake Fork, water is lightly stained; water temp is 58 degrees; and the lake is 0.01 low. TPWD says that largemouth bass are good on bladed spinners, crankbaits, Chatterbaits, curly-tailed worms, and skirted jigs fished in 2-8’ depths as the fish move shallow for the spawn. Crappie are good on minnows and jigs fished in 11-25’ depths near docks and creeks..…After the 2020-21 trout season’s final stocking last week, the trout action continues to be good at the Blue River near Tishomingo. ODWC reports a normal river elevation normal, a water temp of 56 degrees, and clear conditions. Trout fishing remains good for fly anglers using caddis flies and nymphs while in-line spinnerbaits like Rooster Tails, spoons, and Power Bait continue to take rainbows in channel seams, broken water, and near rocks…At Oklahoma’s Lake of the Arbuckle’s, water levels are normal and the water temp is 54 degrees. ODWC says that largemouth bass are good on jigs, Alabama-rigs and Ned rigs. Smallmouth bass are fair on swimbaits. Crappie are fair off of docks and are fair to good near brush piles and the lake’s shoreline… At Oklahoma’s Lake Murray, ODWC reports a normal lake elevation, a water temp of 55 degrees, and clear water. The agency reports that largemouth and spotted bass are fair on Alabama-rigs, crankbaits and jerkbaits fished around brushy structure and in coves. Crappie are slow on jigs and minnows fished around brushy structure, in coves and in  creek channels.…At Oklahoma’s McGee Creek Reservoir, water levels are normal and the water temp is 55 degrees. ODWC reports that largemouth and spotted bass are fair on Alabama-rigs, crankbaits and soft plastic baits fished in coves, along spawning flats and near points… On the upper Texas Coast, TPWD says that the mullet are a little scarce since the freeze in mid-February. If anglers find them, they should have success catching speckled trout and redfish as well, using a tail rigged under a cork. TPWD says to focus on deeper water and use shrimp for success on black drum. Redfish are around the drains using shrimp on a popping cork....On the middle coast near West Matagorda Bay, redfish and black drum can be found over the deep rocks on live shrimp. Speckled trout are in the deeper water and biting on shrimp or chasing mullet. TPWD reminds coastal anglers in this region that catch and release is still encouraged for the time being…On the lower coast near Baffin Bay, speckled trout and redfish will be in the shallow water according to TPWD, less than a foot deep where water temps are the warmest and they are chasing available mullet. As with other portions of the Texas coast, TPWD is encouraging catch and release right now as freeze damage and fish kill numbers are assessed and the fishery begins to recover…

Tip of the Week

Love the sport of bowhunting? Then consider joining Bowhunters United, a national organization put together by the Archery Trade Association, which strives to make a difference for current and future bowhunters. The six-month old organization exists to help members become bowhunting mentors, better advocates and ambassadors, and powerful conservationists, as well as responsible public-land stewards. BU’s website says “You can take pride in knowing you’re doing your part to secure bowhunting’s long-standing traditions, and to make bowhunting accessible and enjoyable for all. Join Today for only a $25 membership fee per year.” To find out more information and to join, visit the website at www.bowhuntersunited.com.