PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Outdoors

December 12, 2009

Texas snow goose numbers continue decline

Chester Moore, Jr column for Sunday, Dec 13

(This is the conclusion of a two-part series on the decline of snow geese.)

 

     Outfitter William Sherrill is not a fan of the special conservation order and puts a strict limit on the number of geese his parties can take.

    If there has ever been a waterfowl guru out there, Sherrill is it. I have had the pleasure of hunting with him several times and am blown away by the habitat management on the property he hunts and his focus on small details.

    “There is a such thing as putting too much pressure on the birds and with geese it seems like that’s exactly what we’re doing.”

In 1999 when the special conservation order was put in place Texas hunters took around 370,000 light geese. The next year the harvest only slipped a bit but by the 2007-2008 season it had dropped to around 250,000 birds. The difference is in the number of geese wintering in Texas, which was a big topic of conversation at last March’s Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) Commission hearing.

Speaking to Commissioners, TPWD Migratory Bird Program leader Dave Morrison used Kansas as an example of how snow geese are changing their patterns.

     “…They had 350- to 400,000 birds in their state, they killed 15,000. They're not putting pressure on their birds like we do. We have a mid-winter estimate of around 350-, 400,000 year before last, and we shot about 250,000 birds.”

Think about that for a second. Texas hunters shot more than half of the light geese that wintered in Texas. And according to Morrisson’s testimony there is a direct correlation between the number of pressure here and wintering bird numbers and the lack of pressure elsewhere.

     “Now that's a direct relationship — I understand, that's just the indices compared to population estimates. But the decline, you can see the decline, what's going on. Now, understand that the intent was to cause birds to go down. That was the intent of the expanded and liberal seasons. But the continental population has not gone down. It's simply a Texas problem.”

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Outdoors
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     Summer is one of the best times to seek catfish in Southeast Texas and thankfully, for local anglers without a boat, there are catfish in just about every canal, drainage ditch and bayou in the area.
      Fishing from the bank has its disadvantages but there is a way around it. This involves making the fish come to you.
      European catfish and carp anglers who typically fish exclusively from the bank use a system called “ground baiting,” which involves putting chum out with the bait. They attach a small cylindrical device above their swivel, which holds chum and dispenses it as the water rushes by. The problem is these rigs are not readily available in our marketplace.
      However, with a little ingenuity, taking a 35-millimeter film canister, punching a hole in the bottom and on the lid and then punching more holes along the side can make a similar device. This acts as a perfect chumming device and is very inexpensive.
      Not everyone has film canisters these days so the softer plastic aspirin bottles will also get the job done.
      Rig this above your swivel and weight, and then fill it with your favorite chum. Now you will not only be chumming the area you fish in but also bringing fish directly to your bait.
      Any kind of chum will work, but a mixture I have had some success with was menhaden oil (available through many mail order offshore supply catalogs) mixed with soured milo. The oil creates a huge chum slick and when it mixes with the milo, the smell is almost unbearable, which means catfish love it. The best part is that a little bit goes a long way.
     Something else to consider is using jack mackerel as bait.
     This oily fish is available in larger supermarkets in a can for less than $1, and I can attest it will bring in fish. While fishing in the Gulf of Mexico and tagging sharks for the Mote Marine Laboratory, my partners and I were able to chum in and catch nearly 40 sharks while using less than two cans of the stuff. It is oily and stinks to high heaven, so catfish should love it.
      For anglers interested in using film canisters to chum their bait, something else to consider is the use of a popping cork. Even if your bait is on the bottom, you can rig a popping cork above it and attach a baited film canister below. This will allow you to do some extra chumming and use the cork to “pop” the chum out whenever you want to release more.
     Another great tip for land bound anglers is to use braided line. In talking with several anglers who pursue brackish blues from the bank, I have learned that loosing striking fish can be a problem.
      I am not sure as to the reason but a definitely solution is using a braided line because they have no stretch. When making long casts with monofilament from the bank you have the potential for lots of line stretch when can make a poor hookset.
     Sixty yards of line might have five or six feet of stretch and that is plenty for a big blue to undo. When using a braid like Fireline, Gorilla Braid or Spiderwire you can forego these problems and greatly enhance your chances of putting some catfish in the frying pan.
     (To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at cmooreoutdoors@gmail.com. You can hear him on the radio Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on “Moore Outdoors” on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at www.klvi.com and watch him Saturdays on GETV.org on “God’s Outdoors with Chester Moore”.)
     

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