After a late spring and early summer of heavy rains and flooding, Centex boaters and anglers are finally seeing parks, campgrounds, and boat ramps reopening — just in time for Independence Day.

Ramps are crowded — sometimes to the point of overflowing — with folks trying to get back on the water for the first time in months, but as more facilities begin to open up, the traffic pressures will be dispersed and waiting in line to launch won’t take so long. As of Saturday morning, Lake Waco’s Flat Rock and Lacy Point boat ramps were reopened.

Last week’s fishing reports were mixed, but overall the good outweighed the bad. After being off the water for so many weeks, it takes a little time to figure out bite patterns, but targeting the old stand-bys like points, submerged structures, shoreline vegetation, and other reliable areas is a good bet for kick-starting your summer action.

Lake Whitney striper guide Clay Yadon (Reel Deal Striper Guide Service) has been putting his clients on fish and limiting out so early that he’s already posting the day’s results on social media before most people get settled in at the office.

“Fishing has kind of turned around,” says Yadon. “It was a tough period after the flood. The water got really dirty and covered the vegetation, which ended up taking oxygen out of the water, but we’re turning the corner.”

He said the typical summertime pattern is setting up, and the past few days prove it. “The water is back to that nice blue color again, and we’re whacking them. We’re catching good numbers and good-sized fish in about 25 feet of water over humps and channel edges,” he said. “As fast as you can get your baits down, they’re gobbling them up.”

Michael Houston (Houston Guide Service) is also catching stripers on Whitney, advising anglers to fish humps and points above the thermocline. He reports good catfishing, with bigger fish being caught on freshly-cut shad in 2 to 9 feet of water.

Guide John Gilbert (Brazos Kayak Fishing) has been off the Brazos due to high water and stream flow, but has switched gears and put in on the South and Middle Bosque rivers, where he’s been catching largemouth and a good number of spotted bass using chrome crankbaits.

He’s also been fishing the bubbles near the Lake Waco Dam, where he found plenty of largemouth and white bass going head-first at silver/white spoons. He expects to be back on the Brazos soon, barring any more flooding rains.

Lake Waco guide Greg Culverhouse (The Crappie King) says crappie are on brush piles in 15-20 feet of water. “The bite is fair to good,” he said. “Live bait is best, but black and chartreuse jigs are a close second.”

Waco angler Keith Rodriguez (Fish On Texas!) says he and his nephew/fishing partner Jordan Colvin are finding a lot of hungry blue and channel cats in Lake Waco. They’re anchoring and also drifting with a drift sock using cut bait and ghost minnows, and they’re also loading the boat with white bass in the evenings using silver slabs.

Teaching children

It was great to catch up with my long-time friend Nora Schell at the Lake Waco Wetlands last week. I helped out on a summer school field trip with some kids from Waco ISD’s Lake Waco Acceleration Academy, and in addition to water sampling and other scientific activities, we wrapped up the day with a fishing trip to Nora’s Pond, which had recently been stocked with channel catfish.

We caught a few fish and introduced the sport to some kids who had never (or rarely) been fishing before.

In a related story, if you’re looking to take some kids fishing, Buena Vista Park Lake was just stocked with another load of catfish, and the infusions will continue every two weeks through October. Nightcrawlers, chicken livers, shad, minnows, and other natural baits fished either on the bottom or under a bobber should yield some bites.

Beach news

If you’re headed to the coast for July 4 week, you’ll want to pay attention to beach warning signs before splashing into the foamy brine. The upper Texas coast, from Matagorda on up through Freeport, Galveston, to Bolivar Peninsula, have many areas with recorded high levels of fecal bacteria, making it hazardous to be in the water.

Coastal beaches south of Matagorda, from Port Aransas through Corpus and down to South Padre Island, are clear (with a few spots registering a medium risk).

Winds have been high along the coast, and surf fishing has been a struggle, but cuts and bays have been yielding some good catches of a wide variety of fish.

For more information on water quality warnings along the Texas coast, visit the Texas Beach Watch website.

CAST for Kids

If you’re an angler or you’ve got a soft spot for kids with special needs, you need to find yourself at one of the upcoming CAST for Kids events on July 5-6.

There’ll be a fishing tournament, celebrity auction and dinner, silent auction, and gala to raise money to support kids with special needs and their families.

Anglers can bid on celebrities from the pro fishing and entertainment industry, and this year’s lineup includes Jimmy Houston, Gary Yamamoto, Wade Middleton, Alton Jones (both father and son), and more.

Visit www.castforkids.org/waco for more information and to bid in hopes of fishing with a pro.

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