Paddling  strokes: Wild and wonderful East Texas

by Michael Banks

The cat is out of the bag. People have figured out what a great place East Texas is for recreational opportunities.

We (locals) have enjoyed this well-kept secret but no more. We might as well accept the fact and make the most of our blessed, beautiful outdoor world.

In the past I could quietly and serenely paddle stretches of the Neches River and seldom see anyone. Now kayaks and canoes are a common sight.

I may be partly responsible, as I and Texas Conservation Alliance have helped Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) designate State Paddling Trails on the Neches and Sabine rivers.

As long as these folks take ownership of our God-given natural resources, it’s a good thing.

Don’t tell anyone but we have a new Neches River National Wildlife Refuge smack dab in the middle of East Texas.

We have a bounty of wildlife in East Texas, but this has not always been the case.

After the 1920’s, sustenance hunting nearly wiped out the wildlife just to survive. Kudos to TPWD for their successful efforts in re-establishing game animals to East Texas.

Now, hunters from across the nation come to East Texas to hunt deer.

Hunting lease fees supplement many landowners’ investments in East Texas.

With the help of US Fish and Wildlife, East Texas now has many species of waterfowl that live or winter or migrate through here.

TDWD has been tenacious in its efforts to re-establish the Eastern Wild Turkey to East Texas.

Their recent efforts of super stocking appear to have been successful.

Before long, all over East Texas the classic sounds of mature turkey gobblers seeking mating hens will be heard in the early spring.

Fishing opportunities in East Texas are unlimited.
Most of the best bass-fishing lakes in Texas are located in the eastern section of the state and these are public waters.

More state ShareLunker bass (a bass weighing over 13 pounds) are caught in the lakes of East Texas than anywhere else in the state.

Bass fishermen from all over the world, especially Japan, come to fish the famous Lake Fork.

TPWD’s hatchery bass spawning and stocking program keeps improving the catch, so some day Texas may claim a world record largemouth bass.

East Texas is a prime recreational and wildlife country.

Shhhhh -- can you keep this secret? Enjoy!

Michael Banks is co-chair of the Friends of the Neches River and a charter board member of the Friends of the Neches River National Wildlife Refuge.