Squirrel season opens in Land Between the Lakes a week prior to the Tennessee statewide season each year.

Opening day this year will be Aug. 18 and is fast approaching. Bag limit will be same as last year at 10 daily.

All hunters must possess a hunter safety card and all applicable permits and licenses as required by state and federal regulations.

Additionally, all youth hunters not required to carry a hunter safety card by the state must receive basic hunter safety instructions and carry a verification form signed by a responsible adult.

The form and additional information is available on LBL’s website at lblinfo@fs.fed.us.

 

NUMBERS UP AT DUCK BLIND DRAW

Numbers of waterfowlers participating in last Saturday’s duck blind drawsacross West Tennessee were up from last year at most locations.

Locally, the number of participants at Big Sandy — which included Camden bottoms, Big Sandy, Gin Creek and Harmon’s Creek — topped at 2,650. That total was more than 100 more than last year.

Nearby West Sandy, which was held at Henry County Fairgrounds, also had more than 100 participants over last year’s total. The total entry this year was 371.

Dover bottom draw included 1,231 participants which was up 150 over last year’s total.

All areas are in need of rain, especially Camden bottoms, where corn was planted earlier than other units. No rain has fallen there recently.

Light showers did fall last week at Dover, West Sandy, Big Sandy, and Gin Creek. Crops there look pretty good, but more rain is needed.

 

DOVE FIELD LEASING

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is seeking fields to lease for the upcoming 2018 dove season. The first segment of dove season opens at noon on Saturday, Sept. 1.

Mourning doves are a popular game bird and one of the most widely distributed and abundant birds in North America.

More mourning doves are harvested than all other migratory bird species combined in 39 of the continental states.

In Tennessee, an estimated 25,000 hunters harvested about 408,500 mourning doves last year.

Landowners can earn up to $3,600 through providing a dove field for public hunting. These fields must be available for a minimum of three priority hunt dates in September. 

TWRA began its leased dove field program in the late 1980s, and the program has been very successful in providing quality hunting opportunities for hunters.

In addition to leased fields, many public dove fields are provided on wildlife management areas in each TWRA region.

The TWRA website will have specific information about WMAs and leased dove fields in each region by Wednesday. 

The standard fall leased field is a harvested grain field to which TWRA leases the hunting rights for three priority dates.

The hunting access rate paid to landowners for fall leased fields may be up to $75 per acre for a maximum of 40 acres. Fields that are top sown with wheat are eligible for an additional $15 per acre.

Interested landowners must sign up their fields in August.

Anyone interested in leasing a dove field to TWRA should contact their TWRA regional office. The TWRA has four regional offices across the state that interested landowners can contact: Region I (West Tennessee) 731-423-5725 or toll free 800-372-3928.

 

HIGH SCHOOL CHAMPIONSHIP

Keying on the coolest water they could find made winners of Grayson Morris and Tucker Smith during the Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School Series National Championship at Kentucky Lake.

The Briarwood Christian School anglers caught an 18-pound, 9-ounce limit of five bass in Saturday’s final round to clinch the championship with a three-day total of 50 pounds, 2 ounces.

The Alabama anglers were fishing shallow all three days in the back of a major creek and keyed on a spot they thought was a spring or cold-water run-in because it featured bubbling water and water temperatures about 10 degrees less than the surrounding water.

“The water dropped about a foot last night, which was really shocking to us,” 17-year-old Morris said.

“Going into today, it was really weird,” Morris, a high school senior, said.

“We thought we had beaten the bank really hard where we had been fishing the past two days because we would go up and down it about four times a day. We didn’t know if there any more fish in there.”

They began each morning by catching a few keeper bass in lily pads with a watermelon Stanley Ribbit toad, but when the sun got higher, they targeted shady banks with brush.

Morris flipped a green pumpkin 1/2-ounce jig tipped with a black-and-blue Strike King Rage Menace spilt-tail grub inside the bushes while Smith, a 16-year-old junior, worked the outside of the bushes with a white Z-Man ChatterBait. 

“Each day we had different bites; some were where it was shady up under a tree, and some were on the outside of the shade,” Morris said. 

“We knew there was brush under some of the trees we were fishing, so we skipped our baits up under the trees.

“If we felt brush, we would drag it through the brush all the way out,” Morris said. “If not, we would hop it a few times and pull it out.” 

They missed some bass early on the buzz frog and before moving to their cold-water spot, which Smith said was about the size of a tire.

“Those fish were just stacked in there,” Smith said. “Every 20 minutes, we would come back through and there would be another 3-plus-pounder on it.” 

On their first stop at the spring, the Alabama anglers caught a 3 ½- and 4 ½-pounder. They returned later to complete their limit and clinch the championship.

“This win means everything because fishing is all I do,” Smith said. “We don’t do any sports any more. We are all just fishermen.”

“We worked hard to get here,” Morris added. “The win is a big confidence booster, but it is also a humbling experience, because we got to see all these other great anglers here representing their schools and states.” 

The tournament included 670 anglers on 337 high school teams from across the nation and three countries. 

The high school competitors were awarded $22,000 in scholarship funds from B.A.S.S. and its sponsors.

Bethel University presented $96,000 in scholarship money to the top two teams if they choose to attend the school in McKenzie.

Morris and Smith each earned $2,000 in scholarship money from B.A.S.S. and sponsors and $28,000 scholarships for four years from Bethel University.

A pair of Abu Garcia Revo baitcast reels were awarded to Leominster High School anglers Teddy Peznola and Nate Smith, who weighed in the big bass of the tournament, a 9-6 largemouth. 

 

SPORTSMEN’S CALENDAR

Aug. 11 — Hummingbird banding, TNWR Visitor Center.

Aug. 18 — Squirrel season opens at LBL.

Aug. 24-26 — Archery antlered deer season private lands only.

Aug. 25 — Free hunting day and statewide squirrel season opens.

Aug. 25 — Hummingbird banding, Cross Creek NWR, Dover.

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