Osprey with freshly-caught fish

An osprey clutching a freshly-caught fish from Lake Waco. Even when the fish aren’t biting, they’re still vulnerable to bald eagles, osprey, hawks, and other birds of prey.

Courtesy photo — Brian Boyd

Kids today have it a lot easier than we did back in the 70’s. Not only did we have to be near a wall when we talked on the phone, but if we were gonna catch rainbow trout, we had to talk our parents into driving us at least as far north as New Mexico.

Thanks to today’s technology, my daughter and her friends can have live video phone conversations while we’re on the way to catch some trout right here in Central Texas.

Community Fishing Day at Nora’s Pond, located at the Lake Waco Wetlands (1752 Eichelberger Crossing Rd.) will take place Saturday from 9 a.m. – noon, and the pond will be brimming with tasty, scrappy rainbow trout.

Along with good fishing, participants will find hot dogs and drinks, plus a lot of folks to help out with the fish-catching experience. Fish On! Texas (Facebook fishing group) administrator Andre Bravo says his team will be on hand to give out prizes and tackle for participating kids.

Kids 16 and younger don’t need a license to fish, but anglers aged 17 and up are required to have a valid fishing license and freshwater stamp. There’s a limit of 2 poles and 5 fish per person.

Catching trout can be as involved as you want to make it. Fly-fishermen have a lot of success with their whipping-and-flipping techniques, and the old-style method of rod & reel bottom fishing will bring ‘em in, too.

Area sporting goods stores are stocked with salmon eggs, hooks, and rigging advice for catching trout on natural baits – just ask an associate. One good rule of thumb for catching trout using corn or salmon eggs is to figure out the deepest spot in the pond and sink your bait there. Watch for the slightest tick on the rod tip, and start cranking as soon as it begins to bounce.

Thousands of trout will be stocked by Texas Parks & Wildlife biologists throughout the cold months. Check out the TPWD website to find out times and places. The sooner you fish after a stocking, the more likely you’ll leave with a skillet load.

For more information on Saturday’s event, call 848-9654 or visit www.lakewacowetlands.com.

Let me float this by you . . .

The Central Texas Boat Show in Belton culminates today with a host of exhibitors, demonstrations, seminars, clubs, organizations, manufacturers, and others, with the cherry on top being the Tuff Man Championship weigh-in.

Hours are from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the Bell County Expo Center. Guests will enjoy demos and talks on fly fishing, reading electronics/sonar, locating and catching more fish, and more. The 2:30 championship weigh-in ceremony will feature a drive-through format, capping off a series of tourneys that took place on Central Texas lakes through the fall months.

Families are welcome, and youngsters will enjoy the Kids Zone, where they’ll find activities like bowfishing, a catfish tank, and other educational and entertaining things to do.

Fishing runs of crappie an white bass

Cold weather is bound to return, but in the meantime, the moderate temperatures we’ve been enjoying lately are luring more anglers to the water. According to a seasoned crappie angler I talked with last week, the papermouths are starting to creep toward shallower waters, staging up in channels near drop-offs.

The bite has been on and off, but he’s marking big schools of crappie that seemingly can’t wait to get up shallow and start laying eggs. Best baits have been small jigs (chartreuse, as well as blue/white) and ghost minnows.

It’s also about time for the first big spawning event of the year – the white bass run. It’s when sand bass head upstream to make a bunch of baby sand bass, and during this period, they’re concentrated in smaller water, making them easier targets. It’s about the only time when bank fishermen have as good a chance at limiting out as boat anglers. “The run” is the fishing equivalent of dove hunting because of the social value – it’s time to get back outdoors and compete for bragging rights.

A friend from down south told me the run is already underway on the Colorado River near his shack outside La Grange, so it won’t be long.

Speaking of wild hogs. . .

If you’ve read this column over the past month, you’ve gotten a mouthful of information about wild hogs, which are getting to be as big a problem in Texas as fire ants when they came on board back in the 1970’s.

Wild hogs are a growing menace in Texas, especially in our part of the state, but the National Park Service is asking for public input on the inevitable threat from these creatures – as well as the current issue that Barbary sheep (also known as aoudad) are posing to the Big Bend ecosystem.

A 30-day review and comment period begins Jan. 29 and deals with proposals to control the population of these non-native species that pose a threat to Big Bend National Park’s natural and cultural resources.

These creatures are consuming native species, threatening biodiversity, and damaging the park in other ways, including negatively impacting visitor experiences.

To comment or learn more, visit www.nps.gov.

Wildlife photos worth seeing

Central Texas outdoorsman Brian Boyd has the time, equipment, and eye for capturing wildlife photos that make my jaw drop in amazement. If you haven’t done it yet, look him up and follow him on Facebook.

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