Water seems harmless. We control it by turning on faucets, pushing buttons on water fountains, and spraying it on our gardens. Even when a pipe breaks, we call a plumber and get it back under control.

Just because Central Texas boat ramps are flooded and parks are closed doesn’t mean the fishing stops. Anglers are some of the most adaptable folks you’ll find, and a lot of people are out on the water fishing shorelines, banks, and from small watercraft – in addition to those resourceful enough to find a spot to launch their boats.

Tony Montoya reports that the big blues are still biting strong on the Brazos, and the multiple record-holder, unlike a lot of anglers who try to keep secret their locations, baits, techniques, etc., generously shares information so more people can find success.

It’s almost summer and the Texas coastline is about to be bombarded with tourists. The sand and salty surf attracts hundreds of thousands of people every summer, and if you’ve never had freshly caught and cooked seafood, you need to make the trip.

Fishing used to be in the recreation rotation for a lot of people. Back when I was a kid, pretty much everybody I knew went fishing once in a while, but today, if you survey a room full of kids, not many will say they’ve ever fished more than a couple of times, and even more report that they’ve ever been at all.

Brian Boyd has spent the past decade documenting the lives, through photos, of Lake Waco’s bald eagles. Recently, he’s been photographing the two juvenile eaglets nearly ready to leave the nest, but last week’s winds damaged the eagle nest and sent the birds plummeting 50 feet to the ground.

When Cameron residents and longtime fishing buddies Mark Vorn Kahl and John Williams set off in their boat on the Brazos River near Millican on Sunday morning, they were looking to bring in some catfish. Little did they know they’d end up with something a lot larger than a typical catch.

Science is an amazing thing. Systematic observation and analysis isn’t perfect, but overwhelmingly, it trumps gut feelings.

The annual white bass spawning run is in motion, with good numbers of fish being reported traveling in schools numbering in the hundreds. A couple of scouting trips I took last week (they’re called scouting trips when you don’t catch much) started out hopeful, as I caught a fish on the first few casts and spotted good schools traveling through, but the whites were skittish and turned off the bite switch.

The Waco Bass Club is the oldest competitive bass club in the nation, and it’s hosting its 49th Annual Lake Waco Crappie Tournament on April 13.

I smacked dead my first mosquito of 2019 on Friday evening. It’s only February, but you can smell freshly-cut grass clippings in the air instead of fireplace smoke, and people are walking around in shorts and flip-flops like it’s summertime.

Back when I was a kid, if you were going to catch a trout, you had to load up the station wagon and drive to the Rockies. Same with Coors until Dallas Cowboys legend Bob Lilly retired and started a distributorship in Texas.

If you’ve spent the last couple of weeks (or years) watching cable television or on social media, the hatred you’ve seen will dampen your hope. But when you get out and interact with folks, those negative impressions are easily eroded. Generally, most people agree about what’s right and wrong, and most people, when situations present themselves, will step up and do the right thing.

When we first moved back to Central Texas, we’d regularly see and hear wild critters, including deer, wild turkey, quail, coyotes, opossum, and more at our place – including skunks that way too often gave our dogs a dose of warning from their business end.

The 32nd Annual Fishing Event for Very Special People is etched into the calendar for Feb. 2 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Heart O’ Texas Fairgrounds Creative Arts and Exhibits Building, located at 4601 Bosque in Waco. Admission, food, drinks, and all activities are free.

Central Texas is about the ideal place for an outdoorsman to live. It’s covered with lakes and streams full of fish, offers fields and woods full of wild game, has a golf course within about a 15 minute drive from anywhere, and features plenty of places to hike, bike, camp, and enjoy other pursuits.

After all the holiday sweets, fatty meats, Ro-Tel dip, and other Christmas fare, a lot of folks will shift into eating more vegetables and fruits, low-fat snacks, and trips to the gym.

Grilled trout isn’t typically part of Central Texas table fare at Christmas, but if you’re tired of turkey or other traditional meals and snacks, there are thousands of tasty rainbow trout waiting for your hook at community lakes and streams across our area.

Centex outdoorsman and wildlife biologist Josh Sears says the reports he’s heard on white-tailed deer hunting have been good, and those reports are supported by his first-hand encounters with some trophies in McLennan County in recent weeks.

Social media can be a great and powerful tool. Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms connect people who have similar interests, went to high school together, family members who otherwise would never see or hear from each other, and entertain and inform us on subjects ranging from the silly to the profound.

On the plus side of Saturday’s Fish On Texas! Toys for Tots fishing tournament at Lake Waco, the temperature was above the 20s — unlike last year. On the minus side, the breezes were well above the 20s when it came to wind speeds.

Outdoorsmen are well-known for being innovative. When you’ve realized that Plan A isn’t playing out the way you drew it up, you’d better have a couple of backup plans ready to avoid having to stop by the grocery store on the way home.

Hunters are finding big-bodied bucks with massive antlers throughout Central Texas, and conditions should keep things that way for the foreseeable future. But most reports I got came on the promise of being “off-the-record” — and I always keep the confidence of folks giving me information. Many hunters are still waiting to see what turns up on trail cams and while they’re in the blinds, and are holding off on harvesting until they’re sure which deer they want to shoot.

It’s supposed to be cold and rainy this time of year. Thanksgiving is around the corner, football season is red-lining, and the cold weather – teamed with the whitetail deer rut, or mating season – has got both deer and hunter alike energized and ready for action.

As I drove down a service road near Lake Waco last week on my way home from work, I saw a big bird fly from a stand of flooded timber and land in the roadside ditch. I slowed to a stop, readying my phone camera to capture video of a hawk or eagle flying out of the soggy ditch clutching a rabbit or squirrel that had ventured into the open at the wrong time.

I could’ve sworn I heard Johnny Cash’s voice last week, asking, “How high’s the water?” In the course of seven days, Lake Waco’s water level has risen more than 20 feet – and rising.

Saturday was my dad’s birthday, and I really miss that old guy. He taught me to fish at an early age – I think I was about 3 when he took me on my first trip to a lake near San Angelo, and when we got back home a couple of hours after dark, I had my first fish still in my hand.

Hunters and anglers are pretty particular about products they use. Some folks will only use one particular type – or even type and brand – of fishing line, lure, ammo, or other gear. In fact, I once heard a guy say he’d just give up fishing if they quit making chrome crankbaits. That’s why it’s smart to just get a gift card for your outdoorsman’s birthday or Christmas present.

The north wind came in like it had been watching the calendar as the first day of fall really felt seasonal on Saturday. My morning sabbatical to watch night turn into day didn’t find any dove hunters in the wet fields — at least within earshot — but as the skies lightened, copious numbers of dove were on the wing.

Shots started cracking through the Central Texas air Saturday morning at sunrise, and from the sound of it, some folks were seeing lots of birds flying. Of course, on opening day, it’s hard to tell whether there’s a bounty of birds or just a bunch of folks wanting to blast some shells after a long off-season.

When you’re at the coast, you owe it to yourself to get your toes in the surf and have a seafood dinner. A trip to Washington, D.C. isn’t complete without a trip to see our nation’s monuments, memorials, and famous buildings. And if you’re in the pine thickets of eastern Texas with a travel pole and fishing tackle, you’re bound to get a line wet.

It’s a great time of year for sportsmen — preseason football season started last week, and area hunters have also been busy, from the increasing sounds of gunshots in the area, taking target practice in preparation for opening day of dove season Sept. 1.