It’s hard to believe another year is over, especially when it comes to Texas hunting and fishing pursuits.
There were too many things that didn’t get done for a variety of reasons, but that’s not stopping me from starting anew with a list of outdoor pursuits that are a priority. The main resolution in my mind is to spend more time having fun and enjoying the company of those who like doing the same.
With that in mind, here’s a monthly glimpse at what this hunter and angler hopes to accomplish next year.
January: Catch a rainbow. Few anglers equate good rainbow trout fishing and Texas in the same sentence but there’s a consistent fishery for them in the Guadalupe River below the Canyon Lake dam. Most of the fish stocked there survive all year thanks to the crisp water spilling from the lake. You won’t find any giants but there are plenty of fish willing to take a variety of flies. Another option closer to home is community fishing lakes stocked by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and those rainbows aren’t picky at all about what they’ll take.
February: Take a hike. Texas is blessed with a jewel of a state park system and there are many locations that offer million-dollar views for pennies per step. There are a number of locales I’ve never visited but would like to, especially the ones that offer some type of fishing access. It’s also a good investment in the future every time you set foot in one of our state parks and the cash-strapped department that oversees them certainly would like for you to come out early and often.
March: Catch a lunker. I’ve never caught a double-digit largemouth bass, though I’m almost certain one that I lost as a youngster could have broken the 10-pound mark. There are superb big bass hot spots in almost every corner of the state and spring is the easiest time of year to locate and hopefully entice a big female to latch on to any number of baits. Even if it doesn’t happen this year, I’m certainly going to try and meet the biggest bass of my life – and promptly release it.
April: Call in a gobbler. Spring turkey hunting is a pursuit like no other and during the peak of the breeding cycle I intend to position myself with my back squarely on a wide-trunked oak or cottonwood while enjoying the tranquil solitude of a spring afternoon. At least until the calmness is stirred by the bellowing entrance of an old tom turkey. Simply put, this hunting pursuit never gets old.
May: Have a crappie day. Some of the most memorable fishing outings I’ve had involved these feisty – and tasty – little rascals. The ideal situation would be to find submerged timber and other vegetation on any number of papermouth hot spots, tie up and let the catching begin. Catching these fish on ultralight tackle is a blast, especially when you’re thinking about keeping some for a fish fry later.
June: Go paddling. Texas is blessed with vast lakes, rivers and bays, which all offer their own secret locales. Relying on human power and going at your own pace can be the perfect remedy to getting away from the everyday grind and enjoying time on the water. A cheap kayak is an easy investment and when you can add in the prospect of catching a variety of species should you feel the need to wet a line, that’s about as good as it gets during the summer.
July: Go noodling. I’m still not sure about the pursuit of using your hands as bait to catch catfish, but I’m game, especially now that it has been legalized in Texas. There certainly are hazards, including cottonmouths and snapping turtles that hang out in some of the same haunts as large flatheads, but you’ve got to hand it to the folks who are good at it. They make it look easy and fun. I think it’s time to embrace my inner hillbilly.
August: Pitch a tent. As with taking a hike, there are plenty of great places to spend a few nights under the stars in our state parks. I did a lot more hanging out in sleeping bags when I was a kid, but I think it’s time to get back to that way of life – even just for a little while – and revel in the soothing serenade of crickets, croaking frogs and the occasional hoots of owls. You won’t find those things in the city.
September: Double the action. I have yet to be successful in harvesting a limit of doves and teal in the same day, but like the other things on this list, this is the year I’m at least going to give it a whirl. We’ve been blessed to have a 16-day teal season with an abundance of birds in recent years that has coincided with the first few weeks of dove season in the north and central areas of the state. If I can make this happen, I’ll remember to only have non-toxic shot for the small ducks and keep the regular heavy dove loads at the ready for later.
October: Go bow hunting. I’ve been lazy in my deer hunting pursuits for the most part and have yet to harvest one with a carefully placed arrow. This year, that’s going to change. At least the part about what I carry into the field. Compound bows have come a long way, but I’ve always been fascinated with the look and feel of a recurve. It certainly can make you feel more accomplished if you harvest a fine animal with one of those longbows.
November: Rattle in a buck. I’ve had little success in this aspect of deer hunting, mostly because it’s not something I’ve done a lot of. However, this is one of the easiest ways to see lots of deer during the rut, including some big bucks. The goal in this pursuit won’t be to actually attempt to harvest a buck, but simply attempt to bring one within range – hopefully to shoot with a long lens.
December: Catch a monster trout. As with largemouth bass, I’ve never caught a truly giant speckled trout – one tickling the 30-inch mark – or even larger. Winter is one of the best times along the coast to find big female specks that are looking to pack on the pounds ahead of their spawning period. If I could pull off this feat on a topwater plug it would be that much sweeter – and I’d promptly release it.
If there’s one simple resolution I could pass on, it would be to give the gift of the outdoors, specifically to youngsters who will be the stewards for our lands and waters after we’re gone. Pick a month, pick an activity and make it happen.
And who knows. You may just get to feel like a kid again in the process.