SUMMER, FALL, AND WINTER all converge and keep outdoorsmen guessing as Texas starts its dive into the cold weather portion of the year.
Getting ready for winter means digging through the mini-Academy stuffed in the garage, looking desperately for waders, boots, gloves, jackets and anything else necessary for a comfortable duck hunt. This leads to the discovery of leaky waders, missing gloves. Then comes a trip to the store to replace antiquated gear with the latest and greatest in really expensive stuff.
Let’s change gears to flip around between trophy trout hunting and duck hunting on Baffin Bay. November is one of those months that begin to bring out the hard-core adventurer in all of us.
The beginning of the trophy trout season means that water temperatures are dropping, letting all creatures know that winter is coming. When water temperatures drop and stay there, the predator fish begin eating to pack on some fat to be able to survive.
The more these trout eat, the heavier they get. A 28-inch, six-and-a-half-pound trout caught in the summer could, over the course of the winter, easily pack on another pound or two. Double-digit, 30- to 31-inch trout begin to be caught, photographed and released, and social media proudly shows off these trophies.
This breed of angler has studied the facts, know the best locations and understand lure presentations and tactics because they are obsessed with catching these “Baffin Big Girls.” These select anglers have fed their obsessions with expensive boats, rods, reels and gear; to be sure they have the “edge” over their wily prey. No matter what the weather is, these trophy hunters are not just looking for their new personal best trout; they are looking for a new Texas State Record, which is the ultimate goal.
The beginning of duck season brings out all of the hunters who’ve been longing for this day ever since the season closed last year. The off-season is all about new guns, dog training, duck calling and reading any duck magazine or article that can be found. Another addiction, duck hunting means more than life to a lot of outdoorsmen. Put this addiction together with the trophy trout addiction, and it’s magic.
Commonly known as the “Blast and Cast,” duck hunters load up every single piece of gear into a boat—including a dog. Then they head out in the pitch-black dark. After shooting a limit, or running out of patience for that last duck to show up, these hearty souls head for the first fishing spot of the day.
Dogs nap on board and sneak snacks or sandwiches while their people “grind it out” for a trophy trout into the late afternoon.
After cleaning ducks, fish, and the boat, these adventurers eat anything in sight and get a good night’s sleep. Put a few of these days together in a row, and this is the definition of “hard-core” outdoorsman.
Baffin Bay Rod and Gun is the only Orvis-endorsed lodge for wing shooting on the Texas Coast. The resource of Baffin Bay is nothing less than magic, this year, even more so.
Lots of grass will mean lots of ducks wintering over on the bay and on the King and Kenedy ranches. Fresh water ponds keep the ducks moving back and forth.
The best part is the patterns that are established. Guides at BBR&G go where the “ducks want to be.” This means following these freshwater/saltwater patterns. Using portable panel blinds and camo captains chairs, it’s easy to set up on the banks of the King or Kenedy at that place called the “X.”
Commonly shooting over 13 species a year, Baffin Bay is home to almost every duck that migrates through, not just the ever-present redhead, which winters in the Upper Laguna Madre by the hundreds of thousands.
The Baffin Bay Trifecta of pintail, redhead and wigeon can be augmented with a sweet bufflehead drake, mottled duck, spoonie, gadwall, even an occasional canvasback and a stray mallard. As the season wears on, more and more ducks show up to escape the brutal cold of the north to lounge at their Baffin Bay retreat.
On a personal note, to me, duck hunting is all about the dog. I’ve been blessed to hunt with my best friend and big ole black lab, Kelly for the past ten years. This year, she’s developed cancer and will have to sit out the season, which will be very hard for her, and me.
It’s a bittersweet situation because I have a new black lab, Cinder, who looks like she’s going to be a superstar and just a great all-around friend. She’s one year old and will hopefully have a long time to fetch ducks for our clients and me.
Every day without Kelly is going to be tough. Every day with young Cinder is going to rekindle my love for duck hunting and help ease the pain of losing Kelly. Every single dog owner knows exactly what I’m talking about, and it’s the hardest part of loving our pets.
Whether you’re seeking trophy trout or some wall-hanger ducks, Baffin Bay is home base for both activities. Please give us a call to see what this is all about, and to live a five-star experience and adventure at BBR&G. See you soon at “The Last, Best Place on the Texas Coast.”
Email Capt. Sally Black at [email protected]