TPWD’s Youngest Elite Angler

Keatyn Eitelman of Pottsboro became Texas’ 25th Elite Freshwater Angler—and the state’s youngest—on August 2, 2013, less than two weeks before his eleventh birthday. He finished this task when he caught a 21.25-inch, 5.5-pound largemouth bass from Lake Texoma on July 23 and submitted it for a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Big Fish Award.

11-year-old Keatyn Eitelman is Texas's youngest elite angler. (Photo by TPWD)

11-year-old Keatyn Eitelman is Texas’s youngest elite angler. (Photo by TPWD)

An Elite Angler is a one-time achievement award for an angler who catches trophy-class fish of five different species, and it’s the perfect pursuit for those who enjoy RV camping in Texas State Parks. There are freshwater and saltwater categories. To be eligible, an angler must earn five freshwater or five saltwater Big Fish Awards. A Big Fish Award is given for a fish meeting or exceeding a minimum length for each species.

Keatyn began his quest on November 28, 2012, when he caught a blue catfish measuring 39.25 inches from Lake Texoma.  Encouraged by his father, Nailen, Keatyn proceeded to collect Big Fish Awards from Lake Texoma for white bass (16.5 inches, December 2, 2012), smallmouth bass (18.5 inches, December 11, 2012), and his largemouth bass.  He also caught a white crappie (18.25 inches) from Lake Fork on March 10, 2013.

The fishing can be good at South Padre. And the sunrise isn't bad either. Photo by Earl Nottingham, TPWD

The fishing can be good at South Padre. And the sunrise isn’t bad either. Photo by Earl Nottingham, TPWD

TPWD offers plenty of prime RV camping spots statewide, and many ways to be recognized as an angler: state and water body records by weight, catch and release records by length, First Fish Awards, Outstanding Angler, Big Fish Awards, and Elite Angler. Visit http://tpwd.texas.gov/fishrecords for all the listings and an application.

 

If you catch a fish you think qualifies, remember to take good pictures of the fish to aid in identification. If the award is based on length, one of the pictures must show the fish on a ruler. Don’t forget to take pictures of yourself holding the fish, too. You’ll want them for TPWD, and it would be fun to post them for your RV friends on Camper Clinic’s Facebook page too!

Your local TPWD fisheries biologist will be happy to help you obtain forms, identify your catch and weigh it on a certified scale. Search for the biologist nearest you at http://tpwd.texas.gov/fishboat/fish/management/biologist/.

Some grocery stores will weigh fish for you, and bait shops or feed stores may have certified scales. Locations of certified scales can be found at https://tpwd.texas.gov/fishboat/fish/programs/fishrecords/scales.phtml.

Official Toyota ShareLunker Program Weigh and Holding Stations also have certified scales; locations are listed at http://tpwd.texas.gov/spdest/visitorcenters/tffc/sharelunker/holding/. The fish must be weighed within 3 days of the catch. However, weigh the fish as soon as possible to prevent any weight loss due to regurgitation or dehydration.

If you’re working on your saltwater categories, be sure to visit Camper Clinic in Rockport for all your RV needs. Or if you’re fishing the Hill Country lakes, drop by Camper Clinic II in Buda. We’re here to help you with all your RV needs so you can stay focused on the fish!

RV Camping at Goose Island State Park

Enjoy RV Camping in Texas at Goose Island State Park

Deer at entrance at Goose Island State ParkFor the past four days, I’ve spent my evenings enjoying Gulf breezes in the shade of oaks, and waking up to the sounds of cicadas in Goose Island State Park.

Located on Aransas Bay just 15 minutes east of Rockport, the park offers hiking trails that wind through oak groves, RV camping in woodland or bayside campsites, fishing from the park’s piers (or even from your campsite!), and extraordinary bird watching opportunities in the marsh areas.

Pelicans at Goose Island state park

Goose Island State Park Fishing Pier

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fishing from RV campsite at Goose Island State Park

 

While you’re in the area, be sure to visit Rockport. You’ll find great places to eat, like Charlotte Plummers, Moondog Seaside Eatery, or  The Daily Grind, which is the best place for a coffee or lunch break when you’re exploring the art galleries in the Historic District. (Hint: the quiches get rave reviews!) For more ideas on places to go and things to do, visit the Rockport-Fulton website!

Rockport may be best known for its annual HummerBird Celebration. This year, the event celebrates its 25th Anniversary, and is scheduled for September 12-15.

Here are a few tips for RV camping at Goose Island State Park:

1. The oaks grow close to the road and close tightly around many of the campsites. (You’ll see lots of reflectors marking the branches that are likely to nip your RV.) Call the park in advance and make sure you’re comfortable that your rig will fit.

The Big Tree at Goose Island State Park2. Take a bicycle. Goose Island State Park is large, and it’s fun to cycle along Lantana Loop, Warbler Way, or Redfish Road.

3. Don’t miss the “Big Tree.” It’s located about a mile east of Goose Island State Park. It’s the State Champion Coastal Live Oak, and it’s more than 1,000 years old.

Whatever your favorite coastal activity may be, Goose Island State Park is a great home base for RV camping. Be sure to stop by and say hello to to the team at Camper Clinic if you need any supplies for your trip!

~ G. Elaine Acker

 

Go Fishing for FREE in Texas State Parks

father_and_son--Camping in your travel trailer is all about making memories: long walks, time by the campfire, or sitting along the bank of a lake with a fishing rod in your hand.

If it’s time to teach the kids or grand kids how to fish, you can head to one of Texas’ State Parks and do it for FREE. There are lakes and parks conveniently located all across the state where you won’t need a fishing license, and some of the parks even have loaner gear.

 

Near Dallas, check out Cleburn State Park and spend a few lazy hours on Cedar Lake. Or, if you live near Houston, visit Sheldon Lake State Park and Environmental Learning Center, which just stocked one of their ponds with rainbow trout.

DipNetWherever you decide to take your RV, it’s the time spent together that counts! Go make a memory and savor every moment!

~ G. Elaine Acker

Wade Fishing along the Texas Coast

If you’re camping anywhere along the Texas coast this Labor Day weekend, you may be interested in trying a little wade fishing.

I found this helpful video from Texas Parks and Wildlife, which explores some popular fishing spots, and I talked to my photographer buddy, Mike Sloat, who owns Texas and Southwest Outdoor Photography, for a few tips.

Surf fishing photo

Surf fishing on Mustang Beach. Photo copyright Micheal Sloat.

“When I was around 8 years old, my Dad took me wade fishing and surf fishing along the coast,” said Mike. “We used to fish the flats of Keller’s Bay, Red Fish lake, Swan Lake, Carancahua Bay and Menefee Lake.” Like many anglers, Mike and his dad always wore blue jeans and tennis shoes, but with the water quality somewhat iffy these days, a good pair of waders can be a good idea.

And when they caught a keeper, Mike added it to his long stringer, which he clipped to his belt and pulled behind him.  It’s not common for sharks to come and feed from your stringer, but it’s not unheard of, either. The further away from you the fish on the stringer are, the better.

You’ll also want to learn the “stingray shuffle.” “Be sure to slide your feet along the bottom to bump stringrays,” Mike added. “It’s hard to enjoy a holiday weekend with a stingray barb in your leg.”

Kayak photo

Sometimes a kayak can get you to that perfect fishing spot. If you’re taking pictures, be aware that the reflections off the water can fool your camera into thinking the scene is much brighter than it really is. Photo copyright Micheal Sloat.

I asked Mike about tips for photography in and around the water. “I recommend a waterproof camera, or at least a water tight housing,” he said. “You can get away without one for a short time, but if you’re using a expensive camera, one day it’ll happen: there’ll be a large wave, you’ll step off in a hole, or you’ll just drop it.”

When you’re taking pictures, also be aware that water reflects a tremendous amount of light. Double check your settings and be sure your camera is properly metering on your subject. Then, play with reflections on the water, try for that perfect sunset shot, or freeze the action as your kids splash in the water and chase away every fish in the vicinity.

Holiday camp outs and fishing trips are about family fun! When you take your travel trailer to the coast, even when you leave the water without a fish, those photos and memories  last a lifetime!

Care to share your fish stories??? And, if you take photos this weekend, be sure to send us one!

~ G. Elaine Acker