November, December are good months for hunters, fishers
November has arrived. It’s my favorite month of the year. Actually, I love mid-October to mid-December. By mid-October the long, hot Texas summer is past and the cold days off January and February are weeks away from mid-December. It’s the perfect time to live in south Central Texas. But the mild temperatures are not why I like November above all other months.
The long-awaited Texas whitetail deer season is now in full swing. The rut in the Hill Country is happening right now. Bucks are showing up in places where we do not normally see them. They are on the move, looking for receptive does.
Duck season in the North Zone opens this Saturday. It opened in the South Zone on November 4 but very few ducks have arrived on the salty flats at the coast. My wife, Beth, and I were at Aransas Pass last Friday and Saturday. We heard very little shooting Saturday morning but fishing was great. We caught big numbers of speckled trout and redfish. I love the late fall or early winter fishing on the coast. As the water begins to cool with the early cold fronts the fish really get active. The first real serious front will push fish off the grass flats and into the Intra Coastal Canal and other deeper channels. Now more concentrated, they become easy targets for soft plastic baits fished on a jig head.
Actually, all the good outdoor pursuits happen in November. It’s great camping weather. No need for A.C. or heater. Tent camping can be very comfortable. I love to take my little tear-drop camper to my lease on Cibolo Creek near Panna Maria. The fall turkey season is open. So camping near the creek gives me good opportunities to put a turkey on the table for Thanksgiving. It worked right last November. Maybe it will this one.
Also, the nights are getting cool enough to shoot a feral hog. I don’t like to butcher hogs in hot weather. But now, if a nice 80 pound porker walks by me while I am turkey hunting, I just might have to put him in the freezer.
Dove season has closed in both Central and South Zones and won’t open again until the winter season in December and January. I enjoyed hunting doves this fall but had to dodge rains most of the season. I did shoot over 100 birds and my lab, Annie, retrieved every bird. I never had to get off my dove stool seat. She has become a real pro.
But the time spent dove hunting can now be used bass fishing. My neighbor, Tom Ray, and I recently fished Lake Bastrop. We only had a few hours but still caught big numbers of bass. Most of them were in the hot water discharge channel, but not because the lake was too cold. They were in the channel because of strong currents that attracts thread fin shad. Most of the fish we caught were about 17 inches long but the majority were skinny. Eating oily shad is a good way to fatten up for winter.
I don’t know why so many bass in Bastrop are skinny. Maybe there are too many bass in the lake competing for the available food supply. Bastrop has a slot limit on bass. All bass between 14 and 21 inches must be released. This results in huge numbers of bass piling up in the slot. Fishermen need to take their five-fish limit of bass under 14 inches to eat. We always keep the small bass. It’s part of the management program. But bass fishermen have been so educated to catch and release that most will not kill a fish. The best eating bass are the small ones under 14 inches. I don’t want to eat a 3 pound bass but the small ones are great. If we could get fishermen to harvest these small fish it would result in less fish reaching the slot. Fewer fish would mean fatter, healthier fish.
So it’s November and the weather is awesome. Whether you hunt deer, ducks, hogs, or if you are lucky enough (or rich enough) to hunt quail it’s the time to do it. And don’t forget the fishing – coastal or fresh water.