Lake Palestine

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Big Spike in Bluewing Teal Numbers

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“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

 




Tom Behrens has over 50 years experience in fishing and hunting across the United States. Much of this time was spent in Oklahoma and Texas where he became very familiar with the outdoor opportunities in these states. You may contact him by email at: tbehrcomm@gmail.com


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Lake Palestine Weather Forecast

Wednesday

Mostly Sunny

Hi: 86

Wednesday Night

Mostly Clear

Lo: 65

Thursday

Mostly Sunny

Hi: 86

Thursday Night

Mostly Clear

Lo: 67

Friday

Slight Chance Thunderstorms

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Lake Palestine Water Level (last 30 days)


Water Level on 10/21: 344.72 (-0.28)



Lake Palestine Fishing Report from TPWD (Oct. 14)

GOOD. Water clear; 75 degrees; 0.06 low. Largemouth bass are good working Texas-rigged worms, silver spoons, and small swimbaits near boat docks and rip rac. Crappie are good on minnows or jigs tipped with minnows around bridges and timber in 15-25’. Hybrid stripers are good on live bait and curly tail swimbaits in 25-35’. White bass are fair on slabs, swimbaits, and jigging spoons. Look for birds diving over feeding schools. Catfish are fair on punch bait, chicken liver, and cut bait.