Jace Cockrell

Jace Cockrell holds a 16.2 pound striped bass he caught while fishing with his dad Jacob, grandfather Ron, Uncle James, and guide Michael Houston last weekend. The trip was a prize Ron won from a raffle at a recent Toys for Tots fishing tourney, and the fish was submitted as the new Junior Angler Record at Lake Whitney.

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.

$1000 is the guaranteed payout, and awards will go to the top 4 places, big crappie, and youth big crappie. Lots of other prizes will be awarded, and all participants who provide their email addresses will receive an exclusive discount voucher from Academy Sports and Outdoors for an upcoming shopping day.

Food and drinks will be available, and the day promises to be a lot of fun as usual. Over the years, the tourney has seen some dynasties (Charlie Pack and Dennis Hill seemed to win it every year when I was a kid) and competitors have faced all kinds of weather, but the competition was always on fire.

The WBC also gives back to the community through tournament proceeds, supporting organizations like Pack of Hope, Blind Ambitions, Children’s Organ Transplant, providing Christmas gifts for kids in custody of CPS, and others.

Headquarters will be at the Lacy Point boat ramp in Speegleville Park, and flyers can be found at Academy stores in Waco and Temple, plus other area sporting goods stores.

Area angler James Windham, who helped organize the tourney and contributed information and results to the Tribune-Herald outdoors for years, died last year and will be missed.

Ron Company has stepped up as the promoter and contact for the tourney, and he says sponsorships and donations will be gladly accepted. You can reach him at 254-366-6636.

More information will also be coming via this column in the next few weeks.

Blowin’ and goin’ with striped bass

Lake Whitney’s striped bass may not have the space and water flow they need to spawn, but that’s not stopping them from doing what comes natural, and striper guide Clay Yadon (Reel Deel Striper Guide Service) says the upcoming weeks will see bigger fish coming on board.

“Fishing has been strong when we could get on the water,” he said. “But when the wind is blowing a million miles an hour, there’s not much you can do. But when we’ve gotten out, we’ve been catching big ones. Females are full of eggs and ready to go.”

The water is warming and fish are on the move, and Yadon says last week’s catches included a lot of stripers in the mid to upper teens. He’s switched from jigs back to live bait, and says the fish will be moving into shallower waters as the temperature continues to rise.

Lake Waco and its tributaries are heating up when it comes to white bass fishing, with a growing number of good reports coming in from area anglers. Keith Rodriguez says you can count the white bass run as officially on, with sandies being caught in big numbers in the North, Middle and South Bosque – adding that they’re way upstream in the North.

Jigs, small spinnerbaits, crankbaits and imitation minnows are good artificial baits, but if you want to scratch ‘em where they itch, catch some ghost minnows and you’ll stay busy catching and cleaning fish.

Rodriguez reminds anglers to be aware that a lot of hybrids are mixed in with the whites, and knowing the difference (hybrids have a minimum keep length of 18 inches) can keep your encounters with game wardens pleasant.

Tribute to a friend

The first time I went to Cogdell’s back in the 70’s, I soon forgot what I went in for. My dad and I were getting ready for a fishing trip, and we were probably there for some line or lures, but as soon as I spotted the big stuffed bear, I was awestruck.

Bradshaw ran the sporting goods and gun store for decades, and he always took time to stop and talk. He sold me a ton of fishing gear and a couple of guns, and I’d always walk away happy. He even treated an annoying little kid like me in a kind and helpful way.

Bradshaw died last week after a lifetime of helping other folks improve their chances at hunting and fishing success, and contributed to this column on several occasions. I appreciate his kindness and will miss his expertise.

I never got the scoop on the bear, but if I remember right, it was shot outside the tent one night when he was camping with his dad in Alaska. The only question was over which one went out and faced it down.

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