By JIM FOSTER
Special to the Parade
How many times have you said, “This summer we will do some camping”? Well, it’s October, and you say the camping gear is still in the garage? The heat and dry weather may be an excuse; however, fall is here and the temperatures are falling, so let’s dust off the gear and get outside.
Yes Virginia, cooler weather’s just around the corner and cabin fever’s taking its toll on those of the outdoor persuasion. People are ready to start enjoying the outdoors again.
Traveling north to Meridian State Parks would be a good idea because they are offering fishing opportunities with excellent hiking and camping as well, not to mention the cooler weather.
The lake has ample shoreline access for those who prefer to relax on dry ground while waiting for a bite. If you have a boat to float, both parks have boat ramps. With drought conditions being what they are, call ahead to make sure the boat ramp is useable. This lake is a “no-wake lake,” so boats with outboard motors must only idle while moving from spot to spot. This rule, though, makes these lakes ideal for paddle-powered crafts, so bring your canoe or kayak.
Meridian State Park’s 505 acres are located about three miles southwest of the city of Meridian off State Highway 22. The park is scenic and heavily-wooded with many campsites. On weekends with good weather, the park can be a popular place. Call (512) 389-8900 to make reservations if you plan on camping.
You can also just access the park for the day and take advantage of a surprisingly diverse fishery. The 50-acre lake is surrounded by campsites on the lower end, so respect the camps of others. Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPW) has placed large piles of brush within casting distance of some of the more accessible shoreline areas in order to improve angling opportunity and provide valuable fish habitat within the lake.
Bass, crappie, catfish and sunfish can be targeted and anglers will be pleasantly surprised by the quality of bluegill, redear, longear and redbreast sunfish. Here is a place where fly fishermen can shine in this fresh water lake.
My favorites are still the little plastic worms from CREME Lure Company in Tyler, TX – yes sir, that’s made in the U.S.A. Drop me an email and I will share how I use these with a fly rod.
Of course, night crawlers (earthworms) or crickets under a bobber-on-light tackle can also set your kids up for some fast-paced fishing.
A few of the closer parks offering the chance of free fishing are Benson State Park, which is listed as a free fishing park. But with the establishment of the World Birding Center, camping and fishing have been reduced drastically. Calling ahead could avoid a long drive.
Lake Casa Blanca International State Park consisting of 371 land acres, and Falcon State Park is 572.6 (144 developed) acres located north of Roma at the southern end of the 98,960-surface-acre International Falcon Reservoir in Starr and Zapata Counties
Anglers can fish without a license in lakes totally enclosed within a state park. Check the TPW website for a complete listing. However, it is important to remember that length, bag limits and other regulations still apply.
Park entrance fees must be paid in order to gain access to the lakes. Both Meridian and Cleburne State Parks charge $5 per day for every person 13 and older; children 12 and under are free.
For more information, visit http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/freefishing.
Editor’s Note: To see more of Jim’s writing and photography, visit http://fosteroutdoors.blogspot.com/. If readers have comments or news for Jim Foster, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.