Cooper Wright deer kill

Cooper Wright made his debut in the Tribune-Herald outdoors back in January after taking a 225-pound feral hog, and he’s following up with a 9-point white-tail he shot Nov. 10 on an afternoon hunt on his Grammy’s place in Valley Mills. He was hunting with his dad, Chris Wright, and Pepaw, Larry Raborn.

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.

Plus, if you fill out your tags by mid-November, you’re finished deer hunting for the season, so a lot of hunters want to leave that option open. There’s no catch, photograph, and release when it comes to hunting.

Fishermen are also protective of their spots, baits, techniques, and other secrets, but are generally less tight-lipped than hunters, which I’m grateful for, because there wouldn’t be much to read about without them.

Waco anglers Keith Rodriguez and Andre Bravo are leaders of a group called “Fish On Texas!” — which exists both in the cyber world and the real, boots-on-the-ground world. They fish for food, fun, friendship, and to do good for the community. They regularly team up with other organizations on litter clean-ups, kid fishing tournaments, and more.

Bravo says the group is organizing a tourney on Lake Waco slated for Dec. 1. It will feature 3 divisions — boat, bank, and kid. However, since it’s unclear whether any public ramps will be reopened by then, the boat division will be cut. He told me they had been in touch with the Corps of Engineers to help clean up a park and ramp to allow reopening by the tourney date, but as of press time, there hasn’t been any agreement.

The tourney, benefitting Toys for Tots, is sponsored by KWTX, and a number of other businesses and organizations are also supporting the effort, including prize donations from Del Follis at Texas Farm Bureau, Bubba’s 33, Rock Ready Printing, Hooters, Rudy’s BBQ, Ace Fence Supply, Honey’s Roofing, Avila Apartments, Lowrey’s Flooring, Tom’s Burgers, Boen Plumbing, Gutierrez Cleaning Services, and more.

Plenty of raffle prizes will be awarded, and a kayak will go home with the grand prize winner. Championship belts will be presented to the winners from each division. The headquarters location will be determined during the week leading up to the tournament. Stay tuned to the Tribune-Herald outdoors or visit the group’s Facebook page for more information.

Hungry, hungry fish

Rodriguez says that when anglers hit the water, they will find the lake receding back to near-normal elevation level — and more importantly, big, hungry fish. “The catfish and hybrid bite is really hot right now as the fish are feasting on yummy-tasting shad,” he said. “Morning and evening trips alike have produced several big slot blue catfish from all around the lake and up the rivers. Colder water temperatures have got them moving.”

Bravo agrees, adding that the blues can’t resist a hook baited with shad gizzard and cut bait. Make sure you’ve got heavy line in good condition, and get ready for a pulling contest that’ll leave your arms tired.

Lake Whitney should be amazing

Speaking of catching big, tasty fish, Lake Whitney striper guide Clay Yadon (Reel Deal Striper Guide Service on Facebook) says all the elements are coming together for a perfect storm of amazing fishing through the end of the year.

“The water level is dropping back down to normal level, and after we get a big influx of water from Possum Kingdom, Granbury, and Pat Cleburne, where they aggressively stock hybrids, we get just as big an influx of fish,” Yadon said. “Once the water settles out, the fishing should go from great to amazing.”

The winter pattern is settling in, so Yadon has switched from live bait to artificials, with jigs and swim baits topping the pop charts for striper. He predicts that it’ll be a couple more weeks before the Corps ramps open, but added that a number of private ramps around the lake are already in business.

He also said he’s got dates available through the end of the year, and if you’ve got an angler on your shopping list, you can’t go wrong with a striper trip gift certificate.

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