Are the crappie running up on Toledo Bend?”
“Have the bull redfish started running at the Port O’Connor Jetties?”
People often use the term “run” in fishing to mean that the fish are biting. When someone says the “bass are running” they mean they are biting, or there has been a solid period of fishing action.
The actual meaning of “run” however, is a period of migration in relation to a spawn.
Salmon “run” upstream to spawn and then die. White bass annually move into certain areas of the river to spawn. The bull redfish right now have moved onto the beachfront to spawn and the fall flounder “run” is an event tied to their migration in the Gulf.
These migrations tied to breeding periods congregate many fish in an area. Since there is intense activity, the fish in question tend to feed aggressively.
So when someone tells you the speckled trout are “running” on Sabine Lake, there really is no run. They do not make a mass migration to mate. They simply mean they are biting, and the fish certainly will not be as concentrated as the white bass that really do “run” north of Toledo Bend.
The rut in whitetail deer has some equally confusing terminology associated with it.
There is a lot of talk about second and even third ruts, but what does it mean?
To answer questions about missing the rut, etc. The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) has some practical data that can help hunters.
According to TPWD a doe may be attractive to bucks for about five days, but may be willing to breed for a period of only 24 hours. If the doe is not bred during her first cycle, she will generally come into heat again about 28 days later.”
“In areas where there are few bucks, a doe may not encounter a buck when she is first receptive and may not be bred until one of her later cycles. A hunter, landowner or biologist who sees the late breeding activity may be convinced that there was a late rut.
On the other hand, those who see does attended by bucks in the early part of the season believe there was an early rut. This helps explain the wide variety of opinions on the timing of the rut during a particular year.”
In other words, does will keep going into estrus every 28 days until they are bred. On top of that, buck/doe ratio can be a factor.
If there are say—eight does to one buck, chances are not all of the does in the area will be bred, and the chances of another estrus cycle for does comes into play. There are, however, peak rut times.
My constant point of reference is The Rut in Whitetail Deer put out by TPWD, which we detailed in the November 2017 issue. This publication deals heavily with this issue. (Check it out in the e-edition.)
TPWD biologists found most breeding activity happened from October 21 to January 5. “Peak breeding dates were November 22 in the northern portion and November 12 in the southern part of the Pineywoods,” the biologists said. “Does showed a 96 percent pregnancy rate and averaged 1.7 fawns each. The majority (90 percent) of the fawns are born by June 29 in the northern area and by June 19 in the southern area.”
For the Edwards Plateau (Hill Country), conception dates ranged from as early as October 9 to a late date of January 30. The Edwards Plateau, Texas’s highest deer production region was divided into three areas for the study.
The eastern part had a peak breeding date of November 7. Peak breeding for the central portion was November 24, and the western area had a peak date of December 5 according to TPWD
“South Texas had the latest rut in the state. Breeding dates ranged from November 9 to February 1 during the three years. In the eastern part of the area the peak breeding date was December 16, while in the west it was December 24.”
I hope this helps you understand these phenomena a little better. The great outdoors is a fascinating place as there are so many factors that go into making something like a rut or a “run” happen.
—story by Chester Moore