Feeding eagles with fish

Brian Boyd (left) and Rachel Sine of Wildlife Rehab Lorena help an injured bald eagle rescued from Lake Waco after falling from its nest. Boyd has been collecting donated fish from local anglers to provide meals for the birds.

It is time for rippin’ lips and fish & chips.

Whether you’re targeting largemouth bass, crappie, white bass, stripers, hybrids, catfish, or sunfish, Central Texas anglers are finding the fish feeding like stoners at a donut place on 4/20.

Warming water temperatures trigger spawning, and fish are on the feed to build calories for their increased metabolism and reproductive requirements.

Lake Whitney striper guide Clay Yadon (Reel Deal Striper Guide Service) says with the water temperature at 65 degrees, it’s prime-time for topwater fishing. “It’s best early and late in the day,” he said, “but when the cloud deck holds together, you can catch them on top all day long.”

Live bait is producing consistent limits and quality-sized fish, with stripers in the mid-teens coming aboard in recent days. “They’re gathering up into big schools again after being scattered for a while,” he said. “When a school gets under your boat, they’ll eat everything you’ve got in the water.”

He expects the topwater bite to hold together for another two or three weeks.

Waco angler and Fish On Texas! organizer Keith Rodriguez says Lake Waco white bass and hybrids are at their peak, citing a Saturday morning trip that found them with their limit of 50 in less than an hour. “They were still on fire when we left,” he said. “They’re chasing the ghost minnows and shad in the early mornings and in the evenings after 6. You can find them in 12-20 feet of water, and once you find a school, more schools will join up.”

Rodriguez said the fish were so thick that they foul-hooked a few, and every fish they caught was being chased by at least one or two other fish trying to steal away the bait.

Tony Montoya has been back on the river, and he said that Friday night, the blue cat bite turned red hot. He was fishing with Cody Cox and Willie Davis, and the trio ended up catching four fish weighing in the double digits, including a couple of 31-pounders.

They were using small shad that had been cut and turned inside out, and Montoya says his tricks include changing bait location if there has been no bite after 30 minutes. “Plus, every 10 to 15 minutes, we crank three or four times to move the bait and trigger strikes,” he said.

Lake Waco crappie guide Greg Culverhouse (thecrappieking.com) says the spring spawn is on, with most fish having moved from the main lake to the tributaries, coves, and marinas – adding that marinas are producing especially well.

He says crappie seem to be spawning deeper this year. “If you’re not catching in 2-3 feet of water, find some structure in 8-12 feet and give that a try,” he said. Live bait and black/chartreuse jigs are working well these days.

Crappie King Kids Fishing Day

The 2nd annual Crappie King Kids Fishing Day benefitting Autism Awareness will happen on May 18 from 10:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. at Lake Waco’s Twin Bridges Pavilion. There will be more than just fishing – with features including a rock climbing wall, inflatables, snow cone machine, face painting, lure making, food trucks, and live music courtesy of the Gordon Collier Band.

Sponsors and boat captains are welcomed. For more information, call Greg Culverhouse at 254-722-2931.

Feeding little eagles

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.

Boyd was on hand to help get the birds to a rehab center in Lorena, and has stayed in close touch with the staff there to keep up with their progress. After learning that the eagles weren’t eating on Friday, Boyd went to Lake Waco and told some fishermen about the situation, and they donated their catch to him.

He told me the fish dinner did the trick, and he even got to do the feeding. Plus, he’s gotten other offers from anglers who want to help provide fish meals for the injured birds.

I imagine Boyd never thought he’d be face to face with a bald eagle while giving it a mouthful of catfish – or want it to be under these circumstances – but it’s a lucky thing for those eagles that he was there.

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