Buffalo Springs Reservoir scheduled for habitat improvements

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Mar 222017

By Darlene McCormick Sanchez

Lone Star Outdoor News

Inland Fisheries Panhandle District of TPWD and the board of Buffalo Springs Reservoir Board are pitching in to improve Buffalo Springs Reservoir.

John Clayton, assistant district supervisor, met with Buffalo Springs Reservoir Board of Directors this month in hopes of starting a joint project.

“They told me they were committed to improving conditions out there,” Clayton said. “The lake is old. The whole lake really is house docks all the way around. There’s no habitat left.”

But the lake has one great thing going for it — the lake level remains consistent because of a steady supplied of water runoff from the surrounding Lubbock area.

Right now there are some cattails that provide limited habitat on the deep end of the lake, but little else, Clayton said.

Clayton said the fisheries district doesn’t have the money to rehabilitate the lake on its own. So he approached the board to see if they would be interested in helping fund the project.

The board approved $5,000 to improve some of the 225-acre lake. TPWD’s part will be the planning, habitat installation labor, the aquatic vegetation, planting labor, and possibly more habitat if the funds are available. He intends on applying for funding — which is highly competitive at TPWD.

The money provided by the board is being used to purchase artificial fish habitat and needed materials for installation.  The plan is to place the artificial habitat in 14 different locations (public access) all of which are located on the West end of the lake, Clayton said.

Artificial structures placed around the lake would be best for Buffalo Springs due to the level of nitrates that enter the water. Adding native aquatic vegetation would further improve the fish habitat, Clayton said.

The project should start in May and be completed by the end of June.

Penny Jones, promotion director, for the Buffalo Springs Reservoir board, said the board had been reviewing the idea.

“I’m really excited about it,” Jones said, adding fishing at the lake has been great for the past year. The lake is also home to fishing tournaments, with one planned for April.

Once placed on the district’s Facebook, the idea drew comments from several anglers who were happy at the prospect.

“Yes!!!!!!!! Best news ever! I volunteer my boat and myself to help place it and do whatever is needed!” wrote one.

Another angler said he remembered when the lake had 3 different kinds of aquatic vegetation 20 years ago. Freshwater shrimp were plentiful in the lake making it an excellent bluegill fishery.

“The lake is devoid of any aquatic vegetation now,” he wrote. The lack of vegetation along the shoreline has hurt the fishing and contributed to erosion, much to the displeasure of bank fishermen.

“My fingers are crossed, but the proof will be in the pudding,” he penned.





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Texans win awards at GOABC

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Mar 212017

Ben Carter, the executive director of Dallas Safari Club, was honored with the President’s Award at the Guide Outfitters Association of British Columbia convention held March 18 in Victoria, B.C., Canada.

Kelli Thornton, formerly of Dallas and now of Bozeman, Montana, won the Lady of the Year award. She is the wife of Wild Sheep Foundation CEO Gray N. Thornton.

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It’s Spring Ranch Stocking Time at StockerBuck.com

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Mar 162017

Sponsored content by StockerBuck.com

This means it’s time to stock your ranch with whitetail deer for 2017 from StockerBuck.com. Give yourself an early 2017 deer season present — a Trophy Whitetail Buck.

If you are a Texas ranch owner who enjoys the great outdoors and deer hunting, a new set of rules will change the future of deer hunting and ranch stocking forever in Texas. Due to the discovery of Chronic Wasting Disease in Texas, new testing standards may affect your ranch.

In the past, Texas ranch owners could pick up the phone and order deer for ranch-stocking purposes. Now, they must study and understand a new set of rules. Texas ranches will be labeled as TC1, TC2 or TC3, and your ranch’s label is determined by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department testing category of the seller of the deer. It is designed as a first-time pass through. This is a new CWD Harvest Deer Testing Category.

The new rules apply only to high fence ranches, as low fence releases will not be allowed.

So what is TC1, TC2 and TC3? This label will tell you how many harvested deer you’ll have to test for CWD, at your expense (up to $200 per head).

Here is the good news:

TC1 (Test Category 1) does not have to test any deer for any reason —period!

Here is the bad news:

TC2: must by law test 50% of all harvested deer, male or female.

TC3: must by law test 100% of all deer harvested.

Where do you buy your deer? 

Out of approximately 1,350 Deer Breeders in Texas, less than 65 are TC1 Status and enrolled in a program controlled by the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC), and testing their deer for at least 6 years for CWD.

StockerBuck.com is a Texas Parks and Wildlife – TC1 Status facility and has earned the highest certification from the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) – 6th year certified facility.

We supply 100% No CWD Test trophy whitetail deer to the ranch and hunt industry in Texas,” said Jay Reichert, operator for the past 9 years. “We have trophy bucks, stocker bucks, bred does and fawns that are bred from Texas typical bloodlines and available for delivery today to anywhere in Texas.”

Located near Marble Falls in the Texas Hill Country, StockerBuck.com has Trophy Whitetail deer for every rancher’s desires.

“We are your one-stop shop,” Reichert said. “We produce huge typical Texas whitetails (ages 3 or 4), ranging from 165 to 250 inches on average.”

To schedule a ranch tour, discuss your ranch’s whitetail program, or obtain everything from bred does to trophy bucks, contact Jay at (505) 681-5210 or reicherlator@yahoo.com.

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 Posted by at 8:54 pm

Rayburn churning out lunkers

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Mar 152017
Lone Star Outdoor NewsRoy and Justin Wade of Diboll, Texas, took home the $20,000 top prize out of 344 teams at the Bass Champs East Region competition on Sam Rayburn March 11.

Teams were vying for a portion of the payback valued at over $100,000 in cash and prizes.

Weather forecasters had predicted some nasty weather heading in, so for added safety on the water everyone was allowed to trailer their boats to launches nearer to their fishing areas. As it turned out, conditions were perfect on Rayburn all day. Almost no hint of wind, overcast skies and mild temperatures set the scene for an incredible bass catching day.

The very first team to bring their catch to the scales was Roy and Justin Wade. First putting their 8.66-pound kicker to be weighed, then adding their final four bass to it, their total came to a whopping 30.96 pounds. Their wait to see how their catch would hold up was long and arduous, as well over 300 teams were yet to weigh in their catch. A few along the line came within ounces of catching them, but in the end, their weight held for a 1st place win.

Roy and Justin Wade fished in about 6 feet of water, using green pumpkin shaky heads, jigs and spinnerbaits to win the tournament.

There was only about an ounce difference between 1st and 2nd places. Alan Moore and Robert Davis, both of Lufkin, had another huge sack weighing in at 30.85 pounds. They used swim jigs and Senko’s in shallow depths of 3-6 feet to find their catch in grassy areas. They pulled out a 2nd place winning check for $7,500.

Another 30+ pound sack won 3rd place, caught by Jim Prothro of Gilmer, and Tommy Morrison of Granbury.  Their biggest fish breached the double-digit mark, locking in at 10.34 pounds. Adding the rest of their creel, their total weight came to 30.64 pounds, taking a close 3rd place win. Increasing their weight by eight pounds with that one catch, they landed their final finish for a $5,500 check. Their winnings didn’t stop there – they also won Big Bass for another $1,000. They were also the highest finishing team in a Skeeter boat, adding another $5,000 to their day. They also cashed in on the Lowrance Gen3 bonus and the Abu Garcia Revo bonuses as well.

There were a lot of big bass weighed in, including another over ten pounds. Perry Moss and Greg Smith of Shreveport, LA caught one weighing 10.25 lbs that anchored their 5th place overall finish.

Rounding out the top 10:
4th $4,250 29.32 lbs Matt Morris & Billy Gaston
5th $3,200 28.96 lbs Perry Moss & Greg Smith
6th $2.500+ 26.80 lbs Dale Boren & Rick Scott
7th $2,000 26.70 lbs Norman Land & Travis Moore
8th $1,800 25.92 lbs Michael Latham & Ben Vaughan
9th $1,700 25.79 lbs Martin Elshout & Mark Price
10th $1,600 25.18 lbs Chris Nunnelee & Gary Paris

Due to the number of entries in this tournament, the ‘Zero Bonus’ was again offered to everyone for two chances to win a $500 check. This gives teams who would not have a chance to win a check in the regular line-up to opt to release the fish they have instead of weighing them in, thus having an opportunity to still win a check. It was a tough call for many, as the Angler of the Year race is still tight going into the final event.
The winners of the “ZERO BONUS” were:
Dean Coleman and Randy Quinn: $500
Bud Boles and Colton Boles: $500

With only one tournament to go, the East Region points leaders are:
1014 pts Clayton Boulware & Albert Collins
979 pts Harold Allen & Matt Loetscher
975 pts Kris Wilson & Bryan Lohr
974 pts Todd Castledine & Russell Cecil
948 pts Ben Matsubu & Brando Davidson
Good luck all East Texas Region teams in the final event on Toledo Bend May 13.

Before the end of the year, Bass Champs will pay out over $2 million, and the winnings are already racking up – so far top teams have earned $580,600 in seven events!
Jan. 14 – East Region – Sam Rayburn PAID $106,900
Jan. 21 – South Region – Falcon PAID $49,650
Feb. 4 – Central Region – Travis PAID $52,450
Feb. 11 – East Region – Toledo Bend PAID $83,300
Feb. 18 – North Region – Cedar Creek PAID $71,880
Feb. 25 – South Region – Amistad PAID $48,000
March 4 – Central Region – LBJ PAID $68,360
March 11 – East Region – Sam Rayburn PAID $100,060

All Bass Champs regular season events are open to anyone who would like to fish, and have a chance at cashing in big.
March 19 – Mega Bass – Lake Fork
March 25 – South Region – Falcon
April 1 – North Region – Ray Roberts
April 8 – Central Region – Belton
April 22 – South Region – Amistad
April 29 – North Region – Lake Fork
May 13 – East Region – Toledo Bend
May 20 – Central Region – LBJ
June 3 – North Region – Tawakoni
June 9-11 – Skeeter Owner’s Tournament – Fork
June 25 – Techron TX Shootout – Sam Rayburn
Oct. 14-15 – 2017 Team Championship – TBA
Oct. 21-22 – 12th Annual Berkley Big Bass – Fork

The Annual Mega Bass tournament on Lake Fork – the richest one-day hourly big bass tournament in the world is happening March 19. $20,000 will be given away every hour of the event – and it gets even better. At the end of the day, the angler catching the largest bass under the slot and the angler catching the biggest bass over the slot will each win a new Skeeter Boat. Anglers will be winning over $200,000 in cash and prizes – all in one day.

For those who have never fished on Lake Fork but would like to give it a try for your chance to win, the ‘slot’ rules on Lake Fork are simple: Any bass under 16 inches may be retained and weighed. Any bass over 24 inches may be retained. Any bass in-between those measurements are illegal to keep and must be released immediately. So go grab your gear and get ready to cash in – Entry fees are only $160 per angler and up to 15 places are paid every single hour.

For more information, visit www.BassChamps.com or call 817-439-3274.

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 Posted by at 7:27 pm

Can aging Texas lakes continue to produce heavyweight bass?

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Mar 142017

Lone Star Outdoor News

On the top 50 Largemouth Bass list compiled by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, almost 74 percent were caught pre-2000 (with the first taken in 1981).

Since then, only 14 trophy lunkers have been caught. The top 15 heavyweight bass were all caught before the turn of the century.

That’s not to say largemouth bass fishing in Texas reeks. In 2014, Keith Combs won the Toyota Texas Bass Classic at Lake Fork by toting 110 pounds to the scale — shattering a nationwide record for a 5-bass limit tour event by 26 pounds, 11 ounces.

“I’ll put our fishing against any state’s,” said Dave Terre, TPWD’s chief of management and research for Inland Fisheries. “It’s still outstanding.”

But even Lake Fork, a relative youngster among reservoirs at age 37, doesn’t churn out behemoths like it did. Twenty-eight of its largemouths on the top 50 list were caught before 2000. Since then, only five Lake Fork bass have been added.

“Some of the issues affecting Lake Fork are affecting other reservoirs,” said Kevin Storey, a TPWD biologist whose district includes the celebrated lake. “We’ve had droughts, which reduced the available habitat for a while. All the reservoirs are aging. They’re all losing timber. I think that’s the pattern you’re seeing with our reservoirs.”

Texas’ reservoirs were built in the 1950s and ’60s primarily to furnish water to communities. As writer Larry D. Hodge noted, “Stocking fish into this alien world creates a fishery, but not one likely to be sustainable.”

The problem came in damming dry land lacking in aquatic vegetation. That wasn’t a problem at first. Decaying terrestrial vegetation and timber jump-started Texas’ fisheries for years. It’s begun to give out, though. Fisheries are losing not only food but cover.

“Unfortunately, it’s a natural progression,” Storey said. “One thing that’s helped Fork maintain its edge for so long, at the time Lake Fork was impounded it was a common practice to go in and strip all timber from a reservoir. The manager at the time lobbied to leave all the timber in place. Also, from day one, it’s been under restrictive management (slot limit).”

Jeff Boxrucker, head of the Friends of Reservoirs, said the story is the same everywhere as reservoirs age. “Habitat degrades, the growth rate of fish slows and recruitment is not as good,” he said.

Sedimentation also plagues many reservoirs, Boxrucker said. At Lake Texoma, for example, the mouths of coves are silted in, hindering spawning.

“The crappie can’t get up to spawn unless the lake’s in the flood stage,” Boxrucker said. “The white bass run has just about been eliminated. Fortunately, the bread and butter of that lake is striper, and they still run up the main stem of Texoma to spawn.”

TPWD isn’t standing idly by. The agency garnered a lot of ink over the years by stocking Texas’ lakes and reservoirs with Florida-strain largemouth bass. A few years back, though, officials came to a realization.

“Just stocking fish is not going to make much of an impact if there is nowhere for them to survive,” Storey said. TPWD has joined a nationwide movement to restore fish habitats by planting native aquatic plants along shorelines to provide fish both cover and food. The plants also generate oxygen, slow wave action and filter water.

“And we’re working with partners across the state to put more structural habitat in reservoirs,” Terre said. “We’re trying to fight back against the natural aging process of reservoirs.”

A couple of factors hamper such efforts. For one thing, fishery management is still in its infancy. “We haven’t been doing it long enough to say if you do A, B and C, you’re guaranteed that catches will increase by this percentage,” Storey said.

For another, planting vegetation, building artificial habitats and dredging to remove silt at reservoirs can be cost prohibitive.

“It’s not something that Texas Parks and Wildlife is going to fix by itself,” Terre said. Wichita Falls’ residents are raising funds privately to renew Lake Wichita, the state’s third oldest reservoir (1901). It covers approximately 1,200 acres. The estimated cost is $55 million.

“Dredging alone is going to be about $30 million,” said Boxrucker. “Now, blow that cost up to cover 50,000-acre impoundments. That’s what we’re facing.”



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 Posted by at 11:21 pm

Teacher arranges first hunt for ag students

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Mar 102017

By Craig Nyhus

Lone Star Outdoor News

The Falfurrias High School Agriculture Science department provided 10 students with their first hunting opportunity, thanks to the efforts of two teachers, Megan Kolbe and Oscar Galindo.

“We teach how hunting is used as a wildlife management tool, and we teach hunter education as part of the program,” Kolbe said. “We wanted the kids to practice what we preach in class.”

In 2015, Kolbe got in touch with the local game warden and he helped organize the hunt with one of the leases on the King Ranch.

That wasn’t the only hurdle, though — school administration approval was needed.

“I had to sit down with the principal and explain the program to her,” Kolbe said. “We preach safety all the time in class, and it’s important to teach the kids the proper use of a firearm, not the improper use. The hunt is very safe and in a controlled manner with the game wardens acting as mentors and guides. The hunt would give the kids an opportunity to learn all of the steps we teach them in class.”

After the first hunt in the 2015-2016 season, the principal met with the kids and viewed all of the photos.

“After the first year, she and the administration were on board,” Kolbe said.

The students were required to compose an essay on how hunting is used as a wildlife management tool in order to become eligible to participate in the hunt.

A few days before the December 2016 hunt, the students spend a day at the range, with the game wardens helping instruct them on safe firearm handling and accurate shooting.

“Then, on the day of the hunt, we convoyed to the lease and met the lease manager. He explained the management practices, and then the kids headed out with the wardens to find a doe — we had wardens from six counties,” Kolbe said.

Each of the students harvested a doe during this season’s hunt.

“They come back with all kinds of cool, eye-opening experiences and a new appreciation for wildlife and the outdoors,” Kolbe said. “Most of our kids don’t have the opportunity to spend time outside, away from town.”

After the hunt, the student’s work began.

“They were shown how to field dress the deer and how to cape and quarter them back at the camp,” Kolbe said. “The kids all helped and learned safety instructions on handling sharp knives.”

Texas Parks and Wildlife biologist Cody Gann was on hand, and conducted a necropsy where the students learned about the deer’s digestive system and looked at the stomach contents.

“It was an awesome day for the kids,” Kolbe said. “Allowing our youth to spend time outdoors and teaching them the ethics of hunting is a timeless tradition that will only continue if we work to pass it along — we plan to continue this tradition for years to come.”

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Shimano to debut products at Outdoor Expo in Houston this month

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Mar 082017

Lone Star Outdoor News

Tackle focusing on bass fishing, rods and lures from industry leaders will debut at the Bassmaster Classic Outdoor Expo in Houston this March.

The new lightweight Chronarch reels feature Shimano Magnumlite spool, while the Tranx reels can easily handle big deep-driving crankbaits — or throwing big baits to a big red drum.

Shimano is introducing its re-engineered Chronarch MGL reels, now offered with lightweight Magnumlite spools and in three different gear ratios models. Weighing-in at 6.5-ounces, the six reels in the series include the Chronarch MGL 150 and left-hand retrieve 151 with 6.2:1 gear ratios, the 150HG and 151 HG with fast 7.1:1 gear ratios, and the MGL 150XG and 151XG with super-fast 8.1:1 gear ratios. Anglers have the chance to check out these new reels with their official introduction at the 42nd Annual Houston Fishing Show, March 8-12 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston.

When the situation calls for a reel durable enough to cast larger lures and fight bigger fish, and is equally at home in either fresh or saltwater, Shimano offers two new sizes to its Tranx baitcasting reel series — the 300 and 400. The reels will be one of the showcase items at the Shimano booth during Houston Fishing Show Fred Hall.

Along with these reels, Shimano also has the Texas debut of additional rods and reels — such as the new Exage and Compre rods, and the new Ultregra and Sahara spinning reels.

More new tackle (freshwater bass fishing focused) coming from Shimano this spring — along with new rods from G. Loomis and lures from Jackall — will debut at the Bassmaster Classic Expo.

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 Posted by at 9:59 pm