Monday, December 02, 2002
Texas Duck Season Split
Redfishing in the airboat has been absolutely awesome so far. We finally shed much of our "flood" water and the tides have really dropped out. This has made Redfishing in the back marsh lakes very predictable. It is not uncommon to be surrounded by a "sea of Redfish" in these areas. We have approached these fish with fly, lure, and bait. It is a fly fishermen's paradise as there are so many targets. The fish are tailing, backing, boiling, and cruising. The fish were working the edge of the grass that still had water into it. This is the location of the small schools of Mud, Tiger, Pot Belly and other minnows. I watched a number of swim into the grass cutting a huge boil/blow-up into the schools and then double back into the mud stir to pick up stunned and confused bait. One such fish fell for a Red Shad Assassin positioned in front of his path. I let the bait lay until just the right time when I drug it in his path. He pounced on it only to come up ½” short of the lower slot. It was a nice fight and “close quarters” with the green fish that was 10 feet from me to start.
During the last full moon, I fell on one tough day that yielded 5 Redfish, 4 short of the customers limit. The fish were feeding on small minnows along the edge of the grass overnight on the moon. The fish we did catch were gorged with the minnows and would not hardly look at a bait. I watched many of them cruise and boil during the trip. While we came up short on the numbers, the clients enjoyed watching the fish. Personally, my wheels were turning the whole time as I tried to unravel their feeding “nuance”.
I will be doing a lot of these back lake airboat Redfishing trips during the end of January on into April as time and opportunity presents itself. It is something you have to try.
(DUCK HUNTING )
Sunday morning was a great way to end the first split of the Duck Season. We limited with 18 ducks of which 3 were Wigeon and the remainder were Teal, both Blue and Green Wing. Having taken hundreds of Blue Wing Teal over the years, I had yet to shoot a fully plumed Blue Wing drake. As a loan bird cupped in low over the decoys, I had to wait for it to move beyond the edge of the spread or I would have wiped out $50 worth of decoys. The bird slid to the edge and lit, then quickly rose for a nice "going away" shot of 20 yards. I could see the white cheek patches on this mature drake when it rose in front of the blind. Finally, a nice drake Blue Wing for the wall.
During the first split, we averaged four birds per man and have been fighting Pintails out of the decoys. We have had numerous limit shoots along with our fair share of "shoot and release" trips as well. We have had good days and tough days on Widgeon and are encountering them mixing with large flocks of Pintail. Cutting three Widgeon out of a bunch of Pintail is not something many customers can handle. So we let them pass while trying to work the Widgeon out of the group. Sometimes you win, sometimes you don’t. Our Pintail Season opens December 12th and runs through the end of the season. I'm seeing very few "Bull Sprigs" at this time, but a few "tails" are showing up here and there. Widgeon and Teal have been the key to larger bags for us this season. Widgeon are easily decoyed but you absolutely have to be "where they want to be". The Redheads are beyond gorgeous right now and as always, we have plenty of them to guaranty shooting on the worst days.
I crunched the numbers on goose hunting last night. We are averaging 3.8 birds per man and have had a number of trips taking all species. We have yet to kill any really good Blue Geese yet, however. Our Specklebelly geese are becoming the smartest thing on wings as I'm seeing more old birds every year. I managed to get three into the spread from behind with the Alexander boys from Arizona on Saturday, December 30th. The shooters cut all three and each of them were a taxidermist dream. As the birds came to hand, I could see that their breasts were almost solid black, a sign of age. This is juxtaposed to the larger inland prairies where Dark Geese are a given on the worst days. For us, Ross Geese are our “substitute darks”. We count on them more so than Specks.
Capt. Kris Kelley