Deer

Zander Windham took his first spike buck on Saturday morning while hunting with his dad, Jason, near Adamsville. Zander is the grandson of Tribune-Herald outdoors contributor James Windham.

Photo by Jason Windham

December is one of pro striper guide Clay Yadon’s favorite times of year to fish. Not only are Lake Whitney’s striped bass strapping on the feed bags, but they’re also turning their attention to artificial baits, meaning he doesn’t have to hit the lake at 2:30 in the morning to catch shad for the bait tank.

“We just had an incredible trip this morning,” Yadon said on Saturday. “I had 3 clients on board and they caught around 60 stripers using jigs. They kept their 15 fish limit and released the rest.”

Yadon said the sand bass are on the “all you care to catch” end of the fishing action spectrum, with 1-ounce jigging spoons bounced off of humps and channel edges being the best strategy. “They’re super easy to catch and there are some really nice ones, but I’m more focused on catching stripers.”

The past week has put the perfect storm of ingredients in place for excellent fishing. “The stripers are building eggs, and that makes it all about calories. They are seriously chowing right now,” he said, adding that the water temperature dropped to 57 degrees after last week’s cold front, making for a perfect feeding environment for the fish.

The migrating gulls and terns have arrived and are chasing the big schools of shad that are being forced toward the surface by marauding predator fish, making it easier to locate where the fish are feeding.

Yadon says that without a stealthy approach to an active feeding scene, anglers will scatter the schools. “Cold water is more dense and carries sound a lot more effectively than warm water,” he said. “Even the sound of a trolling motor can spook a school of fish.”

He advises maneuvering to an upwind position and letting the breeze blow your boat into the feeding frenzy. If you do, you’ll likely be rewarded with a full fish box. “We’re having crazy good trips,” he said. “The lake is full of fish and is in very good shape, and I’m expecting a fantastic December. So far, it’s living up to my expectations.”

Fish and beer

Back in the 1970’s, if a Texan wanted to catch a rainbow trout and drink a Coors beer, it required a trip to Colorado. Today, while there are still some things available in the mountains that aren’t accessible in the Lone Star State, trout fishing and beer are no longer on that list.

Texas Parks and Wildlife fisheries biologists are cranking up their Winter Trout Stocking Program, and over the next few months, more than 300,000 scrappy, tasty rainbow trout will be released into Texas.

A good number of those fish will make it to area lakes, ponds, and streams in places like Waco, McGregor, Temple, Belton, Copperas Cove, Killeen, Lampasas, Meridian, Glen Rose, College Station, Hearne, and Georgetown.

Fishing is free for anglers under the age of 17, but everybody else will need a fishing license and Freshwater Fishing Stamp. One exception to that rule is fishing within a state park, where licenses and stamps are not required.

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