Outdoor Notebook — Denison Trout Derby, 1st Day Hikes and ShareLunkers

Lynn Burkhead
For the Herald Democrat

On this eve of another New Year’s Day observance, the city of Denison is getting ready for some bigtime celebrating in 2022.

And why not? The dawn of a New Year also ushers in the city’s Sesquicentennial Celebration over the next 12 months, with a number of big activities to celebrate the 150th birthday of the home of the Yellow Jackets.

That year-long run of celebrating actually starts tonight with the New Year’s Eve Fireworks Show in the downtown region at Forest Park. That show, by the way, is tonight, Dec. 31, at 7 p.m.

But from an outdoors perspective, the first big thing on the calendar in D-Town next year is the 15th annual Howard Caylor Trout Derby according to Andrew Means of the Denison Parks and Rec Department. He indicates that the upcoming event will take place next weekend on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022 from 9-11:30 a.m. at Waterloo Lake Park Pond.

While there will be a full report on the trout derby in next week’s Herald Democrat Outdoors section, in the meantime, call 903-465-2720 (extension 2034) during business hours or visit the city of Denison website at www.cityofdenison.com/parksrec .

New Year’s Day Hikes — With a New Year beginning tomorrow, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is hosting First Day Hikes at 89 Texas State Parks.

Three of those hikes are at Ray Roberts Lake State Park. The first is at 8 a.m. in the Johnson Branch Unit where a park ranger will lead participants on three different hikes based on needs and accessibility. The second is at 10 a.m. in the Isle Du Bois Unit, where a ranger will led hikers on the 2.2 mile Randy Bell Scenic Trail as participants learn about native flora and fauna of North Texas. And the third hike will be at 2 p.m., also in the Isle Du Bois Unit, where the same hike will occur again.

At Eisenhower State Park on the shores of Lake Texoma, hikers can take a self-guided hike through the scenic park bordering the shoreline of the 89,000-acre reservoir in northern Grayson County.

And finally, at Bonham State Park in Fannin County, a guided hike will take place tomorrow afternoon at 1 p.m.

According to TPWD, First Day Hikes drew 2,668 visitors last year for a total of 8,173 miles hiked, biked, and peddled statewide.

“Each new year brings about new opportunities and a fresh start for a new adventure,” said Rodney Franklin, director of Texas State Parks, in a TPWD news release. “Many first-time park users chose state parks last year and discovered the joys of getting outdoors.  We cannot wait to welcome those visitors back again in 2022.  I want to invite all visitors, new and returning, to join us in beginning 2022 with a First Day Hike at your favorite Texas State Park.”

FYI, anyone planning a trip to a Texas State Park is encouraged to reserve a day pass in advance since some parks are expected to reach their capacity limit. Reserve day passes online through the TPWD reservation website or by calling (512) 389-8900.

2022 ShareLunker Begins — With the arrival of Jan. 1, the 36th season of TPWD’s Toyota ShareLunker program will kick off when anglers across the state seek the Lone Star State’s world class largemouth bass fisheries.

The upcoming year-long season will have a hard time topping the 2021 season, which saw 35 Legacy Class fish entered into the program. Last year also saw multiple milestones reached and TPWD’s Inland Fisheries staff is hopeful to see even more success in 2022.

“We are excited to kick off another ShareLunker season,” said Toyota ShareLunker program coordinator Kyle Brookshear, in a TPWD news release. “The Sharelunker program contributes to the selective spawning and stocking of these world-class offspring and also helps us gather vital catch and genetic data to help our fisheries biologists better manage trophy bass populations throughout the great fisheries of Texas.”

In a program that was revamped a few years ago, during the first three months of the season (Jan. 1 through March 31), anglers who reel in a 13-plus pound bass can loan it to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for the ShareLunker selective breeding and stocking program.

If you catch such a largemouth bass in the next three months, keep in mind that the ShareLunker hotline is 903-681-0550. Anglers can report their catch 24/7 until April 1, 2022.

Also, look for other highlights of the ShareLunker program in coming weeks here in the Herald Democrat Outdoors. In the meantime, to see updates on the 2022 Toyota ShareLunker Program, visit facebook.com/sharelunkerprogram/ or TexasSharelunker.com.

Red River Fly Fishers Kick off 2022: The beginning of a New Year will also see the local Red River Fly Fishers return to some sense of normalcy after the COVID-19 pandemic's worst stretch that shuttered meetings until this past fall.

The first meeting will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 4 this next week, with the fly tying portion of the meeting beginning at 6 p.m. and the actual meeting starting at 6 p.m. Additional meetings early in the year include Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022; Tuesday, March 1, 2022; and Tuesday, April 5, 2022. As always, RRFF members and guests are welcome.

In case you didn't catch this location update last fall when the group began meeting again, RRFF meetings now take place at Eisenhower State Park on the shores of Lake Texoma. Go to the state park, then proceed to the Recreation Hall at 50 Park Road 20 in Denison.

Finally, don't forget that the 2022 Red River Rendezvous gets a reboot with a move into February in 2022. This year's event, which draws fly tiers from all over North Texas and southern Oklahoma, will be held in the Eisenhower SP Rec Hall from 1 p.m. until 10 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022.

For more information on the Red River Fly Fishers club — which is one of the region's longest running fly fishing organizations — please visit the group's website at www.rrff.org.