Uncertainty In Waterfowl Numbers

COVID-19-forced cancellation of the annual waterfowl survey done by U.S. Fish & Wildlife and its Canadian counterparts.

While there simply isn’t a reliable count on waterfowl to accurately convey the overall estimate in the Central Flyway and other flight paths, the overall duck and goose pursuit should be well worth the effort, reported Kevin Kraai, waterfowl program leader with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

“Like everything else in 2020, it has been very different (for waterfowl management), but we’ve had really good contact with our biologists and colleagues in the breeding grounds areas so we actually have a pretty good picture of what has gone on in terms of habitat conditions and productivity. With all that being said, it’s a mixed bag in terms of what’s been good and not entirely great for the landscape,” Kraai said.

“We are on our third consecutive year of either above-average or exceptional breeding conditions in the Dakotas. In talking to my colleagues up there, they reinforced that the conditions were as good as they have even seen, which translates into a huge portion of the breeding grounds producing a significant number of young ducks. We already observed that during the early teal season (in September) here in Texas with many more reports than usual of the amount of younger birds in the flight.

“Despite not having a (federal) survey, we’re looking at really good indications that there was an extremely good production year, and a very important part of the country that’s significant to Texas waterfowl and especially the Gulf Coast.

“From a species standpoint, I’m hearing that blue-winged teal did exceptional, especially up in the Rolling Plains and High Plains, as well as northern pintails and gadwall. It’s those species, as well as shovelers and green-winged teal which nested in the eastern Dakotas, that did very, very well.

"Some of those species like bluewings, greenwings and shovelers could be near record highs. We’ve also been seeing an increasing trend in the ever-important redhead population.”

Hurricanes, tropical storm impacts

Kraai noted that the Texas coast, which features nearly unlimited public area to hunt and is always a hot spot regardless of conditions, faces adversity related to Mother Nature.

“The Gulf Coast has certainly been through some turmoil this year with multiple storms that impacted the areas as you moved up the coast toward the Louisiana border. The flooding and storm surges from those hurricanes and tropical storms did push a lot of saltwater farther inland up into those critical marsh areas,” Kraai said. “Good rains will help flush those areas out but we were holding saltwater in marsh that is typically fresh and that can be quite damaging over time to many of the submerged aquatics in the brackish to fresh marsh that are so important to waterfowl.

“You never want too much rain during the fall because it will spread the birds out, but those individuals who purposely put water on the landscape through whatever means are really looking good in a year like this where much of the state is in drought.”

Uncertainty is the best description for those hunters willing to invest the time and effort.

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Toledo Bend Lake Current Weather Alerts

There are no active watches, warnings or advisories.


Toledo Bend Lake Weather Forecast


Mostly Cloudy

Hi: 73

Monday Night

Mostly Cloudy

Lo: 66


Mostly Cloudy

Hi: 76

Tuesday Night

Mostly Cloudy

Lo: 65


Mostly Cloudy

Hi: 77

Wednesday Night

Partly Cloudy

Lo: 66


Chance Rain Showers

Hi: 77

Thursday Night

Chance Rain Showers

Lo: 59

Toledo Bend Lake Water Level (last 30 days)

Water Level on 12/5: 167.95 (-4.05)

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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