National Do Something Nice Day

FlatsWorthy promotes boating courtesy in coastal marshes


While viewing the damage from 2017’s Hurricane Harvey, the founders of a conservation group called FlatsWorthy realized that habitat damage was intensified by unnatural shortcut channels carved by boats through coastal marshes. The group was inspired to move beyond its original goal of promoting boating courtesy and evolve into a more ambitious effort to prove through science that nature can best heal itself without our intrusion. “Without intrusion” doesn’t mean ignoring the problem, but rather entails changing the behavior that causes it.

“We know that some boating habits inadvertently cause damage, while other behaviors show a blatant disregard for and ignorance of the fragile habitats essential to our angling pleasure,” says Chuck Naiser, FlatsWorthy president. “These resources are easily disturbed and easily damaged. Courtesy and respect are especially important in how effectively the shallow flats can be shared. If we anglers are careful in how we access these areas and show respect for these spaces and the efforts of other users, the generations that follow us will be able to share and enjoy these special places long into the future.”

To join this coalition of guides, paddlers, airboaters, fly-fishermen, wade anglers, flats polers and concerned citizens to reverse bad manners that cause destruction of our coastal flats, head on over to

Share this post and invite your friends to subscribe to Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine to get more tips like this. We have an all access subscription offer.



Fall — It's Time to Catch Some Big Bass

Big-bass haven Naconiche is a small body of water (692 acres) not far from Nacogdoches, but the lake fishes big. It’s pretty much a flooded forest. Leaving from the boat ramp, you’ll find safe navigation going toward the dam; if you venture away from the ramp, the channels become narrower, so be cautious.
Lake Naconiche for big bass
The boat ramp splits the lake. The left side (as you leave the ramp) is more open until you pass the fishing pier on the left.
Going to the right of the ramp means traveling in the midst of flooded trees for several miles. A boat lane is staked, but it’s very narrow and winds around with unexpected turns. Even in the lane, you’ll encounter obstacles, many barely below the surface. Expect to bump into stumps with your boat and motors. Many times, you’ll scrape your boat’s rubrail along a tree as you maneuver around tight cover while fishing. You might not mind, because that’s where the fish can be found.
Look for aquatic vegetation — these are productive fishing spots, too.
With so much cover, the bass could be anywhere, right? Not really. Bass are apt to move around in October — they could be shallow or deep — but you can pinpoint likely areas by observing the surroundings.
Watch the shoreline for changes in contours. A keen eye can spot areas that are more open, such as where an old road ran through the area before it became a reservoir. Another trick is to look for places where a row of trees forms a line delineating an edge (such as a channel or road). If you can find a spot where a channel and road come together, you may have found a sweet spot.
Here are some successful techniques and lures.
  • Retrieve swim baits rigged weedless.
  • Flip Texas-rigged plastic worms, creature baits or lizards.
  • Run spinner baits as tight to the tree trunks as you can.

If you spend time looking, you’ll find moderately open areas where you can test other techniques. In areas where it is feasible, a deep crankbait can be very effective. A square bill can be fished around the shallow trees.
If a cold front moves in, try jerk-baiting areas along the dam. Because the lake is small, you can fish a lot of it in a day.
If you want to learn flipping/pitching techniques, Naconiche is the lake to practice on. You can do this all day. Start with heavy line such as 20- to 25-pound fluorocarbon or monofilament or 50- to 80-pound braid. (A medium-heavy rod is on the light side of what you’ll need.) You may hook more bass on lighter line and gear, but if you try wrestling an 8-pounder out of a tree on lighter gear, she will win most of the time. 
Share this post and invite your friends to subscribe to Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine to get more tips like this. We have an all access subscription offer.


Home on the Range

Practice Makes Perfect for Shooting Enthusiasts

After you’ve purchased a rifle, bow and arrow, handgun or shotgun, it’s time to try it out. Where can you go to practice, or compete?

Whether you are looking for opportunities indoors or outdoors, in the city or out in the country, you can try your hand at all types of shooting at a shooting range. Shooting ranges offer a safe environment with range safety officers; many offer on-the-spot help and rent equipment.

One great place to find a shooting range is, hosted by the National Shooting Sports Foundation. The website offers a dandy search filter to help you find a range based on the kind of shooting you’d like to do, describing range features, programs and even special services like lodging and campsites. You can also conduct a general Web search or call your local chamber of commerce.

Let’s take a look at just a few of the many kinds of shooting sports and ranges across Texas.

Families especially might enjoy archery and air gun ranges. Communities are adding archery as courses in their parks and recreation departments. Youth in the Texas-NASP (National Archery in the Schools) program know the safety rules for archery, so range time is great as a follow-up for the family or after-school activity. USA Archery clubs can prepare Olympic competitors. Some ranges offer 3-D targets and training for bow hunting. Air guns are an economical opportunity for marksmanship, and competitions are available from the local level up to international contests.

Handgun and rifle ranges are popular both indoors and outdoors. You’ll find fellow shooters in target practice, sighting in or trying out a new firearm. Watch some of the many excellent videos on range safety and etiquette so you’ll know what to expect and what’s expected of you at a range. Be sure to check out the Project ChildSafe video to learn how to talk to children about gun safety and discover tips on adjusting your conversation to the age of the youth.

No shooting skills journey is complete without trying moving targets. Shotgunners enjoy trap shooting, where a mechanical thrower flings a clay pigeon (a saucer-shaped disk like the one under a flowerpot) at different heights and angles. Skeet shooting ups the ante with two throwers at different heights and different shooting stations to vary the shot. Five-stand shooting and sporting clays offer courses with multiple shooting stations and throwers to provide a variety of challenges.

“Three gun” competitions — where you compete with a rifle, shotgun and pistol — are growing in popularity. Ranges offering these competitions are set up with obstacle courses and use different firearms for a high-action experience.

Enjoy living history? How about trying muzzleloaders or cowboy-action shooting? Cowboy-action shooters often sport period costumes and use firearms (or replicas) of the Old West. These friendly clubs welcome novices and new members. Competitions at the national level demand shooting and moving skill as competitors dash between shooting stations in a period setting.

With so many shooting sports choices and ranges available, you’ll have years of enjoyment and a very impressive checklist of adventure! Get inspired at

Share this post and invite your friends to subscribe to Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine to get more tips like this. We have an all access subscription offer.


What Are All These Green Bugs?

Texans report large numbers of beetles this year

You don't have to look long or hard to see reports on social media about masses of flying green beetles in their yards right now. No need to worry — they're harmless. The Green June Beetle (Cotinis nitida) is one of three Texas species. (C. texana Casey is a similar species that is also recorded from Texas.) They are at the peak of their late summer/fall emergence right now. They feed primarily on nectar, fruit and flowing sap and can sometimes be found in large numbers, as has happened this year. Larvae are infrequent pests in lawns and feed on roots of other plants. Luckily, there’s only one generation of Green June Beetles per year, so there won’t be a reoccurrence anytime soon for those who are a bit overwhelmed by their abundance this season.

Share this post and invite your friends to subscribe to Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine to get more tips like this. We have an all access subscription offer.


World Fishing Day

Woolly Buggers and Stealth Bombers

Have you ever thought you could build a better mousetrap? Many fly fishers feel the same way. 

Rather than purchase flies, they find satisfaction from tying their own flies and catching fish with them. Aside from the pride of creating something beautiful, tying your own flies allows for small changes that can bring better results.

Tied flies are lovely to watch in action, all feathers and fluffs floating magically over the water. Their names are whimsical and amusing: Golden Comet, Woolly Bugger, Sneaky Duck, Llanolope and Goober Bug. Let’s wade into the water and learn a little more.

Fly tying takes a little practice, but it’s well worth the effort. The equipment is pretty basic. Many people use a vise to hold their flies in place, while others tie by hand, holding the hook as they wrap the materials around. To hold the thread, you’ll need a special bobbin, found in most sporting goods stores. You’ll eventually need other tools, but you can be creative. Some fly-tying friends make a few of their own tools out of popsicle sticks. 

What you are fishing for will determine the size of your hook. Each fly has a different pattern. After deciding on a design, you’ll need to purchase specific materials. Fly shops have a wide variety of tools and materials; craft stores carry many useful supplies as well. Choose from a rainbow of specialty threads or just use sewing thread. Depending on the pattern, you may need thin foam, feathers or dubbing (soft fluffy stuff that can even come off your dog or cat).

It’s not hard to find feathers on the ground, but you can’t use just any of them. It’s illegal to use a feather that doesn’t come from a game bird, pigeon, Eurasian collared-dove, starling or sparrow. Check the TPWD Outdoor Annual for information about birds that are unprotected by state or federal law. 

I learned to tie flies during a fly-fishing event. Also, fly fishing clubs and stores across the state meet regularly and are thrilled to include beginners. Some clubs and fly shops even offer classes on basic skills. Other educational tools to help you learn to tie new patterns are books, YouTube videos and even Facebook groups. 

Be sure to check out the TPWD online calendar for places and dates when people are gathering to tie flies across the state.

Share this post and invite your friends to subscribe to Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine to get more tips like this. We have an all access subscription offer.