Hunting and fishing have a way of bringing families together
During November, we set aside precious time to celebrate all of the things in our lives for which we are truly thankful.
For a sportsman on the upper Texas coast, there’s no better season to pursue outdoor activities. Autumn is here and fall patterns have both the fish and animals frisky and fired up about the cool transition into winter. From schools of hungry speckled trout, redfish and flounder, to rutting bucks and migrating waterfowl, it’s a phenomenal time of year to be alive. Being thankful is a no-brainer.
Some of my most valued memories of fishing as a youngster and a teenager occurred during November while spending time on the water with my brother and dad. Growing up in Texas City, I found myself smack-dab in the middle of everything the Galveston Bay complex had to offer, which was a whole heck of a lot, especially during the fall.
I can remember several Thanksgiving dinners in which fresh fish fillets accompanied the turkey, ham and other traditional holiday dishes on our family’s table. Sometimes, those fillets had been caught earlier that morning.
Taking advantage of the excellent autumn angling opportunities Galveston Bay provides always plays a role in gathering my family together during this special time of year. Some of us prefer to pursue the fish with rod and reel, some us would rather just eat them, and some of us like to do both. The only thing difficult about this is deciding which species of fish to target, as most are typically exhibiting aggressive behavior this time of year.
What I would consider the best flounder run on the entire Texas coastline is taking place along our upper coast estuaries, marshes, channels and passes. Targeting large flatfish this month can be downright ridiculous, as they stack up in their usual haunts during their annual migration to the Gulf of Mexico. The edges of channels and guts leading in and out of our satellite lakes and main bay waters are loaded with flounder right now. Live mullet and scented soft plastic jigs bounced along the bottom will render the most strikes.
Speckled trout can be found roaming open bay stretches, gorging on swarms of shrimp and schools of baitfish. These actively feeding schools are pretty easy to find, as they generally have flocks of seagulls and terns diving and hovering over them. Getting these trout to eat is about as easy as chunking a lure in among them.
Many times, redfish will be mixed in with the schools of specks. The bronze, torpedo-like fish also can be found cruising shallow marshes, as well as along the granite rocks of our upper coast jetty systems. Bull reds are a staple in the surf and along the beachfront right now as well.
For those more interested in hunting, the opportunities are equally as plentiful. More and more ducks and geese are continuing to arrive along our coastal prairies, marshes and bays. Whether it takes place over a goose spread in a rice field, or in a homemade blind on a well-scouted back lake with just a few dozen duck decoys, time spent with fellow shotgunners is sure to produce memories that any wing shooter would be thankful for.
Deer hunters have long been awaiting the arrival of November and the opening of the regular rifle season. It provides upper coast hunters with the opportunity to hit the road, see some new country and get away from their everyday scenery as they travel to locales that are crawling with whitetail. Memorable harvests will become treasured, timeless moments, and time spent in the blind or around a campfire also will be cherished.
The results of hunting this month also are worthy of our thankfulness, as delicious meat from wild game will bring folks together for some incredible fellowship. There’s nothing like reminiscing about a hunt over a hot bowl of venison chili or duck gumbo, not to mention these dishes go great with a cold beverage while catching a football game from the comfort of the couch.
With a plethora of options available, my suggestion is to try to experience a little bit of everything. If time allows, get out and enjoy a whole lot of it all. Some of the best weeks of my life have occurred in November, pursuing white-tailed deer, chasing waterfowl and catching fish, all within the same three-to five-day stretch alongside close friends and family.
Don’t miss out. This special time of year will pass by far too quickly, and it is, without a doubt, a time to be thankful.