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!

Campaign for Texas State Parks a Success!

Sunset over Blue Mountain

Sunset over Blue Mountain, taken from the top of Skyline Drive in Davis Mountains State Park. (Photo credit: G. Elaine Acker)

For the past month, Camper Clinic II has been celebrating Texas State Parks and as promised, we’ll be donating $1 for every new Facebook fan who joined us between September 25 and October 31. That’s $527!

We appreciate all of our fans who stopped by the Camper Clinic II Facebook Page, and we want to give a shout out to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department staff and volunteers. We know you work long hours to keep the parks clean, well-maintained, and open for all of us RV campers to enjoy, and we can’t thank you enough!

We also want to congratulate the people who won the one-year Texas State Parks passes!

Galveston Island State Park

Galveston Island State Park. Photo by Robyn Ball.

Our first winner is Robyn Ball, who shared her photos of Galveston Island State Park and a female collared lizard she discovered in Caprock Canyon State Park. Thanks to all of you who sent your photos! We loved seeing them, and shared several on Facebook during October.

Our second winner is Heather Amaro – one of our most recent Facebook Fans!

We’ll be in touch with both of you shortly and will send you the details on your passes.

Speaking of photography, we also need to thank Earl Nottingham, Mike Sloat, and my very own hubby, Bill Reaves, for sharing their wildlife and parks photos and photo tips and generally brightening the pages of this blog for the past month.

Keep camping, and I’ll see you in the parks!

~ G. Elaine Acker

Meet Texas Parks and Wildlife’s Chief Photographer, Earl Nottingham

Earl NottinghamThis week, I talked to Earl Nottingham, chief photographer at Texas Parks and Wildlife. He shared a few thoughts on his favorite places to shoot photographs. He also offered a quick photo tip for our readers.

“If I have one favorite place to shoot in Texas, it’s the Big Bend region,” says Earl. “Specifically, Big Bend Ranch State Park. This is photographer’s country and there is everything to shoot here from grand landscapes to wildlife to flowers. I find it is a very addictive country in that it keeps drawing you back.”

I have to agree with Earl on Big Bend. I find myself hitching up the travel trailer and heading back there time after time. I’ve written articles for Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine about four-wheel drive trips with my sisters, hiking the South Rim, and rafting on the Rio Grande, and I never get tired of it. You could literally spend a lifetime there and never see it all.

Earl also reminded me that we’re approaching prime time for the fall bird migration. “If you’re a bird photographer, the Texas coast is the place to be during migration,” he said. “From the smallest hummingbird to the graceful whooping crane, the variety of birds along the Texas coast draws birders from around the world.”

Whooping CranesTo learn more about all the birding hot spots and activities at the parks, check out Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine’s article written by the agency’s Nature Tourism Manager Shelly Plante. The article includes guided bird walks, talks, bird banding and much more.

Whether you’re a serious birder adding species to your life list, or simply enjoy exploring the colorful diversity of birds in Texas (a whopping 638 species!) There are plenty of great places to take your camper and hang out along the coast.

Earl’s photo tip of the day

“The three most important things that make a good photograph are light, light and light,” says Earl. “To be more specific, regardless of your subject, the quality of light is what makes a beautiful photograph. Typically, shooting during early morning or later evening hours produces a more eloquent light. Also, days with unique atmospheric conditions such as fog or even rain adds interest to a photograph. Try to avoid harsh noonday light, which is typically the time most photos are shot.”

Don’t forget to email us YOUR photos from the parks, or photos you’ve taken of wildlife! You’ll be entered to win a one-year Texas parks pass!

What’s YOUR favorite Texas State Park?

This week, Camper Clinic II kicked off its campaign to raise money for Texas’ state parks, which are facing an unprecedented budget shortfall.  Camper Clinic II fans can help by doing two things: 1) Go to the Camper Clinic II Facebook page and clicking “Like.” For every like up to $1,500, Camper Clinic II will donate another dollar to the parks. 2) Share the campaign with friends. It’s important to raise money for the parks, but it’s also important to raise awareness about the challenges being faced by these Texas treasures!

From now through the end of October, we’ll use this blog to explore the parks, discover the wildlife, and remember our outdoor heritage. Be sure to join us on this journey!

~G. Elaine Acker