Monthly Archives: July 2008

Flounder Fishing Techniques

In Texas, flounder can be taken by rod and reel in almost any portion of any bay. However, it often is more productive to fish around jetties or oyster reefs that extend into the bay from shore. Flounder do not swim continuously and they tend to accumulate in places in their search for food. During the fall when flounder are moving to the Gulf for spawning, the best flounder fishing takes place in the channels and passes leading to the Gulf.

During the spring, wade fishermen work the edges of channels, such as the Intracoastal Waterway, as the fish are moving back into the bays.

Flounder can be taken by rod and reel or by gig. When fishing with rod and reel, light tackle is typically the go-to tackle for catching flounder. Both artificial lures and natural baits can be used to catch this patient flatfish. Over barren bottoms, lead heads rigged with plastic worms are often very effective. In heavily vegetated areas, shallow-running spoons are best.

Flounder show a decided preference for live bait over dead bait. Live shrimp retrieved slowly along the bottom often produce excellent results. Several species of killifish, referred to locally as mud minnows, fished in a similar fashion are good bait. These often can be taken in large numbers with a cast net or minnow seine.

Avoid Mosquito Bites to Prevent West Nile Virus

Prevent West Nile Virus by avoiding mosquito bites 

Hot weather and stagnant water can be ideal conditions in which mosquitoes flourish. And while most mosquitoes are simply an annoyance, some may carry West Nile infections. Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) officials say that the best way to protect yourself from mosquito-borne illnesses is to use an insect repellent every time you are outdoors. Look for insect repellents that contain DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Read and follow the label instructions.

West Nile and other mosquito-borne infections can cause potentially serious illnesses. West Nile infection is caused by the bite of an infected mosquito that gets the virus when feeding on infected birds and other wild animals. It is not spread from person to person through casual contact such as touching or kissing.

DSHS offers the following additional recommendations:

  • Drain standing water from around your home. Empty cans, buckets, tires, rain gutters, tree holes and saucers under potted plants regularly. Change the water in pet bowls, bird baths and wading pools several times a week. It only takes a thimble of water for mosquitoes to breed.
  • Limit the amount of time outdoors between dusk and dawn when those mosquitoes likely to carry infections are most active.
  • Dress appropriately when outside in mosquito-infested areas. Cover as much skin as possible to reduce exposure to mosquito bites and use a recommended repellent on exposed skin. Mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing, so spray clothes with repellent containing either DEET or permethrin for extra protection. Be sure to follow label directions. Do not spray permethrin onto skin.
  • Mosquito-proof your house. Make sure door seals are secure and door and window screens are intact.

Symptoms of the milder forms of West Nile illness include fever, severe headache, muscle and bone aches, nausea and drowsiness. Symptoms of more serious neuroinvasive West Nile include a stiff neck, visual problems, altered taste, body tremors, mental confusion, memory loss and seizures. Symptoms usually appear from 3 to 14 days after a person is bitten.

People most at risk of developing symptoms include those older than 50 and those with compromised immune systems. Contact your local health care provider if you suspect West Nile illness. There is no specific treatment for West Nile infections. Other mosquito-born illnesses in the Panhandle and South Plains include St. Louis encephalitis and western equine encephalitis.

Fishing Lake Texoma: In Search of Striper Action

Lake Texoma Striper Fishing 

We left out for a couple days of fishing on Lake Texoma this past weekend. After the four hour trip from my house in Texas we settled in to our hotel room in Denison and prepared to hit the lake for a few hours of fishing before it got dark. We launched the boat and had a few technical difficulties, but we soon cruised the lake near the dam. However, we had no luck — not a fish.

The next day we were up and on the lake before sunrise. We thought we might find some fish in the area, but nothing. Then we saw a congregation of boats and we went to investigate. As you’re probably aware, usually a bunch on boats in a location is a good sign, but after driving on over — nothing again. As it was mid-morning, we decided to just ride around the lake a bit (and there is plenty to ride around on since the lake is like 85,000 thousand acres) and then do some trolling.

That did’t yield much, so we kept moving and ended up on the Texas side of Lake Texoma near Little Mineral. We finally found a spot that was holding some sand bass (white bass) and we caught several. We were on the boards! We kept crusing down the Texas shoreline picking up fish here and there and then we found a spot that was holding some stripers. We worked the area for a while a picked up quite a few. They finally quit biting and it was past lunch time so we bugged out for a break and a bite to eat. My father and I returned that evening to fish a couple hours, but we only picked up a few sandbass and one nice striper.

Lake Texoma Striper FishingLake Texoma Striper FishingLake Texoma Striper Fishing

The second morning proved to be the most successful. My father and I hit the lake at sunrise, but started just west of Eisenhower State Park. We tried a little bit of everything, but we weren’t having any luck. Then we moved to the area where we had picked up some stripers the day before, just west of Butterfly Cove. We caught some sand bass and even an occassional striper, but then we saw that the stripers were schooling and were on the surface — exactly what we had been waiting for!

We cruised over, dropped the trolling motor, and starting throwing topwater lures. The fish were in a feeding frenzy so all we had to do was put something with hooks in front of their face. Each cast would yield strikes and and soon it would be fish on! The schools would come up from anywhere from 20 seconds to 2 minutes, but we finally found a school that was hanging out on top. My father and I each caught a limit of stripers (10 each) that morning and I caught many more that I threw back.

Lake Texoma Striper FishingLake Texoma Striper FishingLake Texoma Striper FishingLake Texoma Striper Fishing

All in all, Lake Texoma was OK! That’s kind of an Oklahoma joke — but come to think of it we did catch all of our fish on the Texas side. I’m already looking forward to a repeat visit! 

Lake Texoma Striper Fishing

New Dallas Reservoir Still in the News

News reports over the weekend indicate the City of Dallas is considering appealing a U.S. district judge’s decision last week that essentially blocked plans by the city to build a new reservoir in East Texas. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to create Neches River National Wildlife Refuge in the same area as the proposed Fastrill Reservoir. Conservation groups, East Texas communities and others in favor of the new wildlife refuge applauded the judge’s decision last week.

On Saturday, the Dallas newspaper quoted Dallas Assistant City Manager Ramon Miguez saying “We haven’t given up on Fastrill. Having said that, we’ve always subscribed to the philosophy that we’re not going to put all our eggs in one basket.” The Dallas story went on to say the city and Texas Water Development Board have not decided whether to appeal the judge’s ruling.

It also detailed other Dallas water supply and reservoir alternatives, including the proposed Marvin Nichols Reservoir on the Sulphur River. The story also quoted the assistant city manager saying “Conservation and reuse are an important part of our long-term water-supply strategy.”

Franklin Mountains Hiking Trails Shine!

In early July, Franklin Mountains Texas Parks and Wildlife Department staff attended the El Paso Media Group 4th Annual Best of El Paso Awards Ceremony. The state park received the award for Best Hiking Trail. Winners in different categories are selected throughout El Paso by the El Paso Magazine Reader’s Survey.

An award plaque was presented by the city mayor. With more than 100 vendors and approximately 2,500 visitors at the event, park Interpretive Ranger Kelly Serio took the opportunity for outreach and park promotion. She prepared a booth with photos to showcase highlights of park trails, wildlife, flora, visitor activities and spectacular views. At the booth, visitors received handouts with park information on trails, hiking safety tips, and the annual Texas State Parks Pass.

Water Rights and Rain

Rainwater collection

All she wants is the rain water that lands on her roof. She lives with her husband and two children in a solar-powered home in rural San Miguel County. Committed to promoting sustainability, Kris Holstrom grows organic produce year-round, most of which is sold to local restaurants and farmers markets. On a mesa at 9,000 feet elevation, however, water other than precipitation is hard to come by.

So Kris did what thousands of farmers before her have done: She applied for a water right. Except instead of seeking to divert water from a stream, she sought to collect rain that fell upon the roof of her house and greenhouse. To her surprise, the state engineer opposed her application, arguing that other water users already had locked up the right to use the rain. The Colorado Water Court agreed, and Kris was denied the right to store a few barrels of rainwater. If she persisted with rain harvesting, she would be subject to fines of up to $500 per day.

How could this happen?

Like other western states, Colorado water law follows the prior appropriation doctrine, of which the core principle is “first in time, first in right.” The first person to put water to beneficial use and comply with other legal requirements obtains a water right superior to all later claims to that water.

The right to appropriate enshrined in Colorado’s Constitution has been so scrupulously honored that nearly all of the rivers and streams in Colorado are overappropriated, which means there is often not enough water to satisfy all the claims to it. When this happens, senior water-right holders can “call the river” and cut off the flow to those who filed for water rights later, so-called “juniors.” Continue reading

Most Mountain Lion “Sightings” are Unreliable

Mountain Lion

Most reports of mountain lion sightings in Texas are never verified with physical evidence, although such reports can arouse fear and cause a local publicity stir, according to wildlife experts with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. In one incident this spring, TPWD’s John Davis pulled up a photograph on his computer that someone had taken in a neighborhood north of Austin showing an animal’s tail barely visible behind a cedar tree.

The man who sent the grainy mobile phone photo said the animal was a large cat, prompting some people to speculate it was the latest in a rash of supposed mountain lion sightings in urban areas. Closer inspection proved otherwise.

Davis, TPWD conservation outreach coordinator and a former urban wildlife biologist, examined the size of a prickly-pear pad next to the cat in the photograph and used it as a scale to measure the animal’s size. “That’s a feral cat, maybe about 18 inches tall,” he said. “It’s not a mountain lion.” Also this spring, TPWD Game Warden Arlen “Turk” Jones handled a report of another supposed mountain lion sighting. Continue reading