10 Family Fishing Ideas for Spring Break in Texas

AUSTIN – Many Texans opt outside to reconnect with nature after a long winter, but spring break adventures aren’t limited to swimming, camping and hiking. Fishing also offers a great way for families to experience the diverse aquatic life and scenic places that Texas has to offer.

Here are 10 ideas to help families to make memories fishing this spring break:

  1. Learn the basics at a fishing class: More than a dozen Texas State Parks and other locations around the state are offering beginner fishing classes throughout March to help anglers learn the fundamentals of fishing and give them an opportunity to catch a fish. Fishing poles and bait are available for families to borrow for the day at many locations, and no fishing license is needed to fish in a state park. Find a full list of events, details and maps and directions in the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Fishing Events Calendar online.
  1. Go kayak fishing on the Texas coast: The newest coastal paddling trail, the Seadrift Paddling Trail, features 20 miles of freshwater and saltwater paddling from the Guadalupe River to San Antonio Bay. Anglers can find prime red drum and spotted seatrout fishing opportunities along this scenic float, along with wildlife watching opportunities for Atlantic bottlenose dolphins and a variety of shorebirds and migratory birds. Kayak and canoe rentals are available in nearby Victoria. Eight other coastal paddling trails can be found on the Texas Paddling Trails website.
  1. Catch your first fish at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center: The Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center, located about an hour drive from Tyler and Dallas and less than two hours from Fort Worth and Waco, offers several stocked fishing ponds, ample fishing loaner equipment, a full production hatchery and a vast array of aquatic exhibits to explore. After catching catfish and rainbow trout in the fishing ponds, spring breakers can see other interesting creatures like paddlefish and American alligators, watch a live fish-feeding dive show, and take a narrated tram tour through the outdoor hatchery facility.
  1. Experience the spring white bass run: White bass provide anglers of all experience levels with exciting action during their annual spring spawning migration up river and stream tributaries. The best time for white bass fishing is usually in March, but with the recent cold snap anglers should look for areas where the water temperature has reached at least 54 degrees, or where the redbuds or dogwoods are blooming. In East Texas, anglers can try Chandler River Park on the Neches River or the Grand Bluff Boat Ramp on the Sabine River for white bass fishing access. Central Texas locations can be found in the TPWD publication White Bass Fishing In Central Texas.
  1. Visit marine life at Sea Center Texas: At Sea Center Texas in Lake Jackson, visitors can explore aquaria and exhibits of Texas marine life, the largest redfish hatchery in the world, 36 one-acre fish culture ponds, an outdoor wetland exhibit and a youth fishing pond. A 20-foot touch pool allows visitors to gently touch marine animals such as blue crabs, hermit crabs, stone crabs, snails and even anemones. On April 6, families can attend the free Kids Reel Big Fish Event to learn how to catch and release fish and get a free fishing pole (limited to the first 100 kids).
  1. Fish for rainbow trout in East Texas: In Texas, cold-water loving rainbow trout can’t survive past the winter. Spring breakers can harvest the last of the year’s stocked rainbow trout for free 8 a.m. to 12 p.m March 11-14 at the Tyler Nature Center in East Texas. TPWD Inland Fisheries staff will have loaner equipment, tackle and bait on hand to help families catch and clean up to five rainbow trout each at the free event. No fishing license is needed to participate. After spending the morning on the water fishing, anglers are encouraged to put on their hiking shoes and explore the nearby scenic outdoor hiking trails.
  1. Catch and cook a crappie: Crappie are a delicious and popular sport fish that are easiest to catch in the spring when they move to shallow water in preparation to spawn. At Granger Lake, north of Austin, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operates four parks that provide campgrounds, restrooms, picnic areas, boat ramps, and opportunities for shoreline fishing on this reservoir. Other popular crappie lakes include Lake Fork, Toledo Bend Reservoir and Sam Rayburn Reservoir.
  1. Target the state fish of Texas: Guadalupe bass, the state fish of Texas, can be found in the rocky, spring-fed rivers of the Texas Hill country. Anglers can find public fishing access, kayak and canoe launches and other amenities on several of the rivers that Guadalupe bass call home, including three sites on the Colorado River, two sites on the Brazos River, and four sites on the Llano River. A list of all of the public fishing access sites, along with details and directions, can be found on the TPWD River Access and Conservation Area Program website.
  1. Tour a Texas state fish hatchery: Anglers and future fisheries biologists can see first-hand where millions of fish are raised each year for stocking into the public waters of Texas at five inland fish hatcheries located across the state and three saltwater fish hatcheries on the Texas coast. Many of the hatcheries welcome the public to come and visit their educational and informative facilities through scheduled tours or by appointment. Learn more on the Texas State Fish Hatcheries website.
  1. Catch a big bass in West Texas: In Texas, March is considered one of the best months to catch a whopper bass. With recent rainfall, many West Texas lakes have higher water levels and are producing “lunker” bass for anglers, including Oak Creek Reservoir, O.H. Ivie Lake, Twin Buttes Reservoir and Lake Amistad, to name a few. Pick a fishing spot in the TPWD Angler’s Guide to West Texas online, and find detailed fishing regulations, angling opportunities, cover & structure, and tips & tactics for it in the Texas Freshwater Lakes list.

For anglers over 17 years old, a valid fishing license with a freshwater or saltwater endorsement is required to take fish, mussels, clams, crayfish or other aquatic life in the public waters of Texas. A fishing license is not required if fishing from the bank in a state park or in waters completely enclosed by a state park.

More information on current fishing regulations, limits and license requirements can be found online in the TPWD Outdoor Annual, or get the mobile app free for iOS and Android here.

Port Mansfield Report Trophy Trout

Starting off with thick fog each morning and calm winds each day, the bite started slow. By mid day the skies would start to clear off and SE wind picked up to 10-20mph turning water color to a sandy green and concentrating bait fish. It seemed like each day from 1pm until 5:45pm the big trout bite really fired off with fish from 6.5-8.25# landed. Because the water temperatures started in the mornings around 70 degrees and reached 74-75 in the afternoon, most of the Corky bites died off. Our best baits were DSL super models color x, strawberry wine and topwaters.
Sunday morning we were able to get in one wade before the front reached us. Hoping for a good pre front bite, we were able to get on some great fish. Good reds mixed in with big trout. We had several good blow ups, but not many connected. I was the lucky one who got to land a trophy of a fish at 9# and 30.25”, with a 7.25# just a few cast later before calling it quits.
All of our Port Mansfield fish are released to fight another day!

Capt. Nathan Beabout
Cell: (210) 452-9680
N&M Sportsman’s Adventures
nmsportsmansadventures.com
AB Kennels
abkennels.com

Leica Geovid 10×42 HD-B 3000 Review

Leica has deservedly earned a reputation for superior optics. The new Leica Geovid 10×42 HD-B 3000 binoculars uphold that fine tradition. I have had the opportunity to carry these for twenty-plus days deer hunting in South Texas and have been impressed with their performance.

My experience was primarily glassing for deer out to 500 yards. In that capacity these are superb. Animals just seem to “pop” in all conditions. Color, contrast, and resolution are amazing. Most impressively, the depth of field blows away anything else I have used. When scanning a distant tree line, it is critical to “see” back into the woods as far as possible. Most binos require a constant “nudge-nudge-nudge” of the focus adjustment knob as you scan into the tree line. The new Geovid HD-B binos eliminate most of that annoying fine-tuning of the sight picture. Instead, when focused on the front tree-line your eyes just see into the woods without any adjustments of the knob. This eliminates some eye strain and allows easier one-hand operation.

Leica HD-B 3000 binoculars
Leica HD-B 3000 binoculars

I am not an optics engineer and not qualified to speak intelligently regarding roof prism versus Porro prism systems. The Leica HD-B 3000 utilizes a Perger-Porro prism. Porro prism is actually the older design with roof prism products becoming more popular in the 1960s. However, it is said that the Porro prism design is simpler, with better light efficiency and higher contrast.

The unit is remarkably compact considering it also contains a world-class laser rangefinder. Measurements are quick and the scan mode provides a continuous reading every 0.5 seconds on multiple targets. The HD-B 3000 will range from 10 to 3,000 yards. I was previously using a dedicated mid-price range finder that seemed to take forever to lock onto measurement. The Leica is way faster, almost instantaneous. It is quite impressive to see something way, way off in the distance and receive instant feedback. I was routinely locking in on deer or cattle at 1,000 plus yards. For fun, I picked out some objects way out there, and the Leica never failed to lock on. In complete fairness, I did not have a professional level control unit to verify the Leica readings on distant targets but I’m confident, given their expertise, it is within their published tolerances. Measurement can be displayed in yards or meters.

Leica HD-B 3000 binoculars
Leica HD-B 3000 binoculars

The Advanced Ballistics Compensation (ABC) system applies range measurement, inclinometer, atmospheric pressure, and temperature to twelve pre-set ballistic curves. Or you can truly customize ballistics by coding your own microSD card. Read more here.

Cons:

I do have two minor complaints about the HD-B. Neither of these are deal-breakers considering the overall high performance.

First, the LED display automatically adjusts to real-time light conditions. This usually works fine but there are times when I would like to manually brighten the display. This seems to occur during low-light conditions on a busy background. I sometimes have trouble reading the display and would like to simply turn up the intensity.

Second, the objective lens covers have fallen off several times. I wish they were more securely attached to the binocular body. I will figure out a solution to this as I don’t want to lose them in the woods.

Conclusion

Leica quality is not inexpensive. In the case of the HD-B 3000 you are receiving best-in-class binoculars with a built-in 3,000 yard range finder and a ballistic calculator. The open bridge design, rubber armor coating, forgiving eye-box, and easy two-button operation make it a pleasure to use for long hours in the field. This could be the best, and last, pair of binoculars you will ever need to purchase.

MSRP $2,999. Street Price here.

Leica HD-B 3000 binoculars
Leica HD-B 3000 binoculars

Texas Trophy Trout!

This go round in Port had some highs and lows. We started off the trips with just a handful of trout bites, but the right ones with fish between 5-8.5# and 29″. Our most productive areas were ones holding rafts of mullet in knee to crotch deep water. Areas that just had widely scattered jumping mullet didn’t produce much more than a handful of 16-18″ trout and a few mid-slot reds.

Water color ranged from clear, sandy green, and muddy. Our bait selection ranged from topwaters, DSL soft plastics, to Corky Softdine XL’s. Matching up color selection in these different waters was key, and once we had the right match we had a consistent bite. The majority of our fish were caught in clear to sandy green water, walking slow and targeting edges of grass mats worked well. Sometimes it was on the third or fourth cast to the same area.

Unfortunately as the last couple days we were met with a good bite until about 11am then the bait seemed to disappear and the bite of big trout shut down. When that happened the redfish bite was good. We kept at it because I am a firm believer that big trout roam behind redfish, and you just have to be lucky enough to slip it past the aggressive reds to give that big trout a chance to eat it.

All in all it was a good trip, these repeat customers always seem to have a ball no matter the conditions, personal best were matched this week, and two were lost. One from the violent head shaking these big fish are known for, and the other broke of a topwater moments before being netted. Give us a call for open dates to go try your hand at landing your personal best, it has been a great winter in Port Mansfield, and I am confident it will continue to produce for us.

Captain Nathan Beabout (210) 452-9680
N&M Sportsman’s Adventures
www.nmsportsmansadventures.com
AB Kennels
www.abkennels.com

Baiting the February Bite at Bay Flats Lodge Resort & Marina

THURSDAY – Jan 17th

Capt. Todd Jones– Today consisted of a solid morning of “fun fishing” with good buddies! Several trout in the 22” range. Somehow our math skills were a little lacking, but it’s always good luck to leave one out there for next time! Wade fishing with lures should continue to improve into February, March, and April, so call (888) 677-4868 today to take advantage of a $25 per/person discount on food and lodging when you book a wade fishing trip (with lures) for any day in February.

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FRIDAY – Jan 18th

Capt. Steve Boldt– There was a definite chill in the air, but this morning’s crew got the job done. For being a half-day trip, they managed a very descent box today with a three-man redfish limit and several black drum to top things off. They’ll all eat well when they get home!

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SUNDAY – Jan 20th

Capt. Doug Russell– A cold front blew through town overnight, so by shooting time this morning things had cooled down quite a bit as the thermometer dropped into the 30’s. The morning didn’t turn out being one of the absolute best days of shooting for us, but it certainly wasn’t the worst either with nine birds. Hoping for more cold weather soon!

For the next couple months along the midsection of theTexas coast, speckled trout anglers can prosper when keying on mud and grass in protected coves, area drains, small bayous, and narrow channels that lead out of the back lake areas that are situated out on Matagorda Island. Many big wintertime trout have been hooked while slowly working natural and artificial baits in just such places out on “the Island” during February and March. However, in order to catch one of these big fish, you’ll first have to target them.

These “big gals” can often be persuaded to eat a number of different artificial baits this time of the year, but some types of lures certainly outperform others. One steady producer that anglers can usually depend on is the slow sinking and suspending baits. These are the ones like the original plastic Corky, the Corky Fat Boy, and the Corky Devil – and now the newer line of Soft-Dine baits – of which all sink slowly toward the mud and grass until messaged to return toward the surface via a smooth, minimal motion of the rod tip. Some of the older, more popular suspending baits, depending on the brand and model (the Catch 5, Catch 2000, and the 27MR MirrOdines), will automatically position themselves in the water anywhere from 6 to 12 inches, or even two feet, below the surface. They can generally be retrieved at a steady pace with an occasional slight twitch from the end of your rod tip throughout the course of the retrieve. They’re nothing short of fun, and can be downright effective at catching big cold-water trout when worked properly amongst the right conditions.

Top waters will also produce during the next couple months, with some of the favorites being any of the larger surface walkers by MirrOlure, Heddon, and Rapala, to include the newer ones made available by the Paul Brown line of lures. One reason to throw top waters this month and next is that you’ll need to be presenting bigger baits because big trout are usually looking for a large meal right now, like a single (big) mullet for example. You’ll also find that these heavier top water baits are quite easy to toss and to retrieve in high-wind conditions that we’re so often faced with during this time of the year. Large top water lures should definitely have a permanent spot in your wintertime tackle box, as they have certainly yielded full stringers on many wintertime occasions.

If you prefer hunting your big trout this winter using soft plastic tails, then you might think seriously about lightening your overall presentation. Cold weather trout tend to move rather slowly during this time of the year, and because of this you should look at using a 1/16-ounce lead-head with your plastic tails versus the 1/8-ounce head that you may typically otherwise throw. Granted, numerous and massive strikes in February may become few-and-far-between, but try not to get frustrated when the action’s slow. Just keep grinding, and remember that good things always seem to come to those who persevere the cold during wintertime!

In closing, we’d like to remind everyone of our 2019 HUNT FOR TROPHY TROUT SPECIAL. From now through the end of February, wade fishing guests will receive a $25 DISCOUNT off their nightly lodging and meals each day. There are several February dates still available, but they’ll go fast, so don’t hesitate in phoning and making your reservations today…1-888-677-4868.

Seadrift Fishing Report

We might not have caught a lot this afternoon in Seadrift, TX. ahead of the front, but the ones we did were solid!

Best bait today were DSL Dirty Tequila, Color X, and Corky Softdine XL bayou green/silver. Crotch deep water over grass beds worked the best.

Capt. Nathan Beabout
Cell:(210)452-9680
nmsportsmansadventures.com

Capt. Nathan Beabout
Cell: (210) 452-9680
N&M Sportsman’s Adventures
nmsportsmansadventures.com
AB Kennels
abkennels.com

Public Fishing, Paddling Access Expands on the Llano River

AUSTIN –The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is expanding public fishing and paddling opportunities on the Llano River with four public access sites opening just in time for winter trout stocking this month.

“The Llano River is a short drive away from major urban areas like San Antonio and Austin, but in the past recreation on it has been limited by a lack of public access points,” said John Botros, TPWD River Access and Conservation Areas Program Coordinator. “These new sites greatly expand the public’s options for safe, legal and high-quality bank fishing and paddling access on the river. Seasonal rainbow trout stocking this month makes it the perfect time to explore this scenic Hill Country river with family and friends.”

The four Llano River public access sites secured by the TPWD River Access and Conservation Areas Program can be found at:

South Llano at County Road 150: A kayak/canoe launch and a quarter-mile of bank fishing access on the South Llano River upstream of Junction at the County Road 150 bridge crossing.

Main stem Llano at Pete’s Pecan Patch: A kayak/canoe launch, 800 feet of bank fishing access and day-use picnicking areas surrounded by a historic pecan orchard near Junction at 325 Kimble County Road 3121.

Main stem Llano at Castell Crossing: A kayak/canoe launch point and 950 feet of bank fishing access on the main stem of the Llano River at Castell Crossing on FM 2768.

Main stem Llano at HR Seventh Heaven: A kayak/canoe launch and parking for vehicles and trailers near the City of Llano at County Road 103 (Schneider Slab Rd).

Although all of the sites are now open for public access, historic flooding on the Llano River in October 2018 impacted some amenities at the sites including signage and kiosks. Anglers and paddlers hoping to utilize these sites should keep in mind that they are mostly in a natural state, meaning no staff, restrooms, running water or other features they would expect from a park. A map, area descriptions and special conditions on public use for each site can be found on the TPWD website.

To provide seasonal fishing opportunities for anglers and paddlers while the weather is still cool, TPWD will be stocking rainbow trout in the Llano River in late January in the reach downstream of Castell in Llano, at South Llano River State Park in Junction, and at the James Crossing in Mason at Highway 2389. Dates and directions to each stocking site can be found online in the TPWD rainbow trout stocking schedule.

Although rainbow trout make for great winter fishing, year-round the Llano River is home to many popular sport fish including largemouth bass and the Texas state fish – the Guadalupe bass. Anglers are encouraged to practice catch-and-release of sport fish in this river, especially after recent flooding which may have displaced some of the native fish populations.

As part of the river access agreements with cooperating landowners, TPWD biologists will be conducting scientific surveys in the river this spring to monitor fish populations and streambank vegetation, and to identify opportunities for invasive species treatment and habitat restoration. Survey data will be used to ensure that increased public use does not have a negative impact on natural resources.

The River Access and Conservational Areas Program is funded through donations to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, the Sport Fish Restoration Recreational Boating Access Grant Program, and by sales of the Texas Rivers Conservation License Plate.

For pictures of the Llano River RACA sites, visit the TPWD Flickr album here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmudrj9S.

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Capt. Nathan Beabout Seadrift Fishing

Not a bad way to start the new year in Seadrift, TX.! Little to no boat traffic and miles of shallow flats holding good trout from 17-27”.

Our lure selection today ranged from DSL’s pumpkinseed to Corky fatboys and XL’s. Most fish were caught in knee to thigh deep water, wherever we could find concentrations of bait fish.

Folks, if y’all haven’t booked with us in either Seadrift or Port Mansfield, TX. this winter, you are missing out. Fishing continues to be strong, and many great weather days ahead. Give us a call for availability in either location.

Capt. Nathan Beabout
Cell:(210)452-9680
nmsportsmansadventures.com

Capt. Nathan Beabout
Cell: (210) 452-9680
N&M Sportsman’s Adventures
nmsportsmansadventures.com
AB Kennels
abkennels.com

David drops the hammer on a nice buck

Went out for a nice 4 days of hunting over the Christmas break with my son David (14) in search of a good cull buck. He got the job done Friday evening. I had spotted a deer before and had pictures of him and discussed with the lease manger. Definitely a targeted hunt for a specific deer that met ranch criteria.

It came in Friday evening and it was windy. Deer were skittish and would just take off for no apparent reason. I saw the buck come in and told David “he’s back” and we shifted seats. He got the 7mm08 in position and it started to walk off into the brush, I said “he’s leaving, get on him but don’t rush the shot” BWAM—— sssscccchhhhhhtttt THWAP! IMPACT!

Saw the deer take off, hit the ground, turn and run, hit the ground again and go off into the brush. I asked him how he felt about his shot, where he aimed, etc.. “In the leg” he said. “In the leg??? !!” was my response.. “In the leg?” He was like, “well,, the shoulder” Ah.. ok, then he grinned and said “He’s dead” Confidence is everything.. We waited about 30 minutes and sure enough, there he was, laying down, antlers up. He made it about 30 yards total. Both legs broke. In the area we were hunting if a deer runs into the thick brush they can be VERY hard to find and people lose deer out there more often than they should. I would rather lose a few pounds of shoulder meat than a whole deer.

Took some pics, high fives, loaded up and headed back to camp. Always funny to see everyone hanging around the cleaning station judging everyone else’s deer. My boy did good.

Good weekend of hunting

We had a great 3 days of hunting this past weekend.  Good times with my son and brother.  Sharing the great outdoors with family and close friends is what it is all about.  I am very thankful that we get to do this and I know my boys will remember these times as the grow old.  Hopefully they are able to have good jobs and can afford to go hunting when they are old dudes!  Getting harder and harder to afford good hunting and that is only going to get worse.  We only shot a cull and a doe, but it was a great weekend!

Continue reading Good weekend of hunting

Seadrift Bite

Good post-front bite today. Solid trout from 18-23” landed on DSL strawberry wine, victorious secret, and corky fatboys!

All our fish were released today.

We still have plenty of open dates for Seadrift fishing under our winter discount for Dec-Feb. give us a shout, you won’t be disappointed!

Capt. Nathan Beabout
Cell:(210)452-9680
nmsportsmansadventures.com

Capt. Nathan Beabout
Cell: (210) 452-9680
N&M Sportsman’s Adventures
nmsportsmansadventures.com
AB Kennels
abkennels.com