Big Spike in Bluewing Teal Numbers




“If everything works out right, I think we could have an excellent teal season, as good a season as we’ve potentially ever seen,” said Kevin Kraai, the waterfowl program leader for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

“Biologists out in the field this year doing banding work and other things in the northern parts of the flyway said they’ve never seen as many broods of bluewings as they’ve seen out in the field this year.

“We’re basically looking at two consecutive years of some of the better bluewing breeding conditions that we’ve seen,” added Kraait.

Some of those colleagues were in North Dakota, where the state conducted its own survey work for the 73rd time this spring, albeit with some crew alterations brought about by the coronavirus outbreak.

As those biologists got out into the field in North Dakota, they liked what they found in general concerning this spring’s breeding duck population figures, and specifically they liked all of the bluewings they were finding across the very wet Dakota landscape.

“Their bluewing estimates were 55% higher this year as compared to the previous year’s estimate, which was pretty high,” said Kraai. “And we know from our own surveys last year in Texas, including where we look at wings of harvested birds, that there were a lot of mature bluewings on the landscape as we headed into this spring.

“So, with all of the pieces of the puzzle that we have been able to put together this year, there seems to be a big spike in bluewing breeding numbers and that’s prior to production,” he added.

Much of the state looks wet and rich with vegetation and protein-rich invertebrates, food resources vitally important as migrating teal replace their feathers and head towards annual wintering grounds.

“Sometimes, the reservoirs in East Texas can get pretty low for September teal season and can be pretty hard to hunt. But that doesn’t seem to be the case this year since most reservoirs are doing well. About the only real dry spot in the state right now is out in the Panhandle where the rainfall this week wasn’t enough to put any more water on the landscape out in the Playa Lakes region.”

The good news on habitat includes the Red River Valley where Lake Texoma is near capacity (98.7 percent full) and Lake Ray Roberts is at capacity (100 percent full) as of September 10.

Local stock tanks — a very important part of the early teal equation are at or above normal capacity. That should mean plenty of water for the birds that quickly push through the Texoma and all across the state over the remaining part of the season.

“I saw where they actually dipped below freezing near Dalhart and there were even a few snowflakes in the air. That’s amazing, because it was 104 to 105 degrees in that same region just a few days ago.”
North Texas Outfitter owner and head guide Dakota Stowers has seen a few bluewings pushing through southern Oklahoma.

Before Hurricane Laura devastated portions of southwestern Louisiana, land managers near the famed Hackberry Hunting and Fishing Camp and Grosse Savane Lodge were already seeing early flocks of bluewings pushing into the area’s marshes.

With another full moon — the so-called Harvest Moon — coming on Oct. 1 just after the end of the early teal season, along with the potential for more rain and cool fronts across the state over the next two weeks, it’s hard to imagine a better teal season recipe, in Texas. It could very well be that we’re near record numbers of bluewing teal right now.

Teal Hunting Tips:

Location is the key … from rice fields, shallow marshes, and stock ponds. Teal prefer to feed on an assortment of seeds or invertebrates without having to dive deeper waters.

Teal are always on the move. The next day you may be pleasantly surprised.

Motion decoys: Specifically, the spinning wing decoy that you can turn the action on and off by remote control.

Calling: Use a call tuned to the high pitch quack of a teal. Stay on the call when the birds are moving your way. When to call or stop calling depends on who you are talking to.

Still time to get out and harvest a few teal. This year’s Texas early teal season features a six teal daily bag limit (comprised of blue-winged teal, green-winged teal and/or cinnamon teal) is from Sept. 12-27.

Photo courtesy Drake Lumus, Texas Dove and Duck Hunting Group

 




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Toledo Bend Lake

Fishing Report from TPWD (Nov. 30)

GOOD. Water stained; 59 degrees; 4.25 feet low. GOOD. The water level is 167.7 with no generators running. Water temperature at the Dam is 59 degrees. The back feeder creeks are stained and muddy with lots of Fall leaves floating on the surface, and the main lake remains clear. We were blessed with some rain this week 2-3 inches. Not much has changed on the pattern this week. Chatter baits are still producing in 3/8 to 3/4 ounce white, chartreuse, watermelon pepper, and red/black skirts. To cover a lot of water, use a square bill crank bait or a flat side crank bait and smaller rattle traps from 0-8 feet in shad and perch imitation colors and the Rayburn red traps are still working. For deeper Bass, cast a Carolina rig with a worm or lizard. Jigging spoons are still producing quality bass on 1/2 to 3/4 ounce (silver with a white or yellow accent tail feather or a deep diving crank bait in citrus shad and Tennessee shad colors). The jig and pig bite has been strong. Cast your jig to long tapering points that drop off into deep water, the best colors are black and blue, PB&J football jigs 3/8 - 3/4 ounce with a 3-inch matching color craw trailer, and a green pumpkin jig with a chunk style trailer. The Crappie bite is still good in 12-20 feet on the edge of the river channels using 1/16- and 3/32-ounce Wager Baits, #46 Bluegrass, #3 Monkey Milk, #09 Electric Chicken, #10 Black and Chartreuse and small minnows depending on the cloud cover and cooling night temperatures. Now that the lake is at a Winter drawdown, it's prime time to go out scouting for new areas for Springtime fishing. Look for areas like feeder creeks, ditches, man-made structures, creek bends and undercuts, etc. Reminder: Keep and extra set of clothes in a dry bag stowed away on your vessel just in case you get caught in the rain, heavy winds, etc. Hypothermia happens quickly. Good luck and keep casting forward! Report from Master Captain Steve “Scooby” Stubbe, Mudfish Adventures LLC, Orv

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