Herbert Mollett with catfish

Herbert Mollett with his Lake Waco record flathead catfish he caught at the Lake Waco spillway. It was caught on shad fished on the bottom and weighed 64 pounds.

Big cats are on the prowl in Central Texas.

I’m not talking about mountain lions or bobcats. The cats I’m referring to are catfish, and both records and personal best catches are becoming a regular thing this spring.

Herbert Mollett is the latest to add his name to the record book after catching a 64-pound, 52-inch yellow catfish last week at the Lake Waco spillway. It broke the record that Richard Parrett set in May 2003 with a 59.5-pounder.

He said he caught it on shad that he had netted earlier in the day from the same area, and after the fish sucked it up and a 15-minute fight later, it took three other people to help him maneuver the fish into position to get it in hand.

There’s no fee to fish at Bosque Park, but a valid fishing license is required for anglers aged 17 and up.

When the rain comes . . .

Back during the last drought, when I went outside and kicked the ground and only dust kicked up, I swore I’d never complain about rain again. I’m holding to that promise, but a lot of folks in Central Texas are saying, “Enough.”

Lakes and rivers are swollen with water, and with many area boat ramps closed, it looks like even more will be added to the list after this weekend’s rains, causing fishing tourney organizers to start resorting to plans B, C, and D.

There are still ways to get on the water, but unless you know the right people with private access, a lot of boaters will be shut off from launch sites for a while to come. Even after the floodwaters recede, tons of debris will have to be cleared from launch ramps and parking areas before the gates will reopen.

Plus, any roads that become inundated will require time for drying out before traffic is permitted again to avoid damage. If you’re fortunate enough to have a boat stored at a marina, you’ve got better odds of getting your boat out consistently, but, as I experienced during a rainy May a while back, you might have trouble getting out to it if the ramps to the docks are underwater. A few times, I had to swim out to my boat with fishing gear in tow to even get to the slip.

On the bright side, the massive infusion of water means more habitat, less fishing pressure, and other factors that will promote fish growth in both numbers and size. Plus, if you fish from a kayak, canoe, or other small craft, you can launch from pretty much anywhere you can reach a shoreline.

There will certainly be a lot of debris – both floating and submerged – that will pose hazards to boaters for a while, so if you get on the water, keep a keen eye and cautious approach.

Beware homeless critters

When the lakes and streams are flooding, they’re washing out the burrows and other places where wildlife take up residence, so we’re likely to find snakes, raccoons, skunks, and other animals in places they’re not normally found. If you’re launching a small boat or if you live near water, keep an eye out for scaly and furry weather refugees. They’ll be under stress, and some of them aren’t pleasant to deal with.

Honoring former teachers

Not many people can name their mayor, county commissioner, state representative, and so on. But everybody knows the names of their teachers and coaches growing up.

The annual Stilwell Retirement Residence for retired educators is holding its annual fundraiser breakfast on June 8 from 8 – 10:30 a.m., and here’s your chance to pay back some of the efforts and sacrifices that your former educators made for you.

The annual pancake breakfast features delicious flapjacks and sides, and they’ll be served up by area personalities from television, radio, newspaper, entertainment, politics, and more.

The event features a silent auction that will include valuable merchandise and services, including a number of outdoor-related items. Regular Tribune-Herald outdoor column contributor Clay Yadon, who guides striper trips on Lake Whitney, is among this year’s outdoor donors, with a striper trip for 4 people valued at $450.

Lake Waco crappie guide Greg Culverhouse is also putting up a trip for 2 valued at $300.

For more information on the event, or to donate to the auction, Call Bob Lauck at 254-299-7133. Visit Facebook for Yadon’s and Culverhouse’s pages at Reel Deal Striper Guide Service and The Crappie King, respectively.

It’s always a good time and it’s for a great cause, and who knows – maybe you’ll learn your representative’s name while you’re there.

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