Waco resident Will Harkey recently found a 51-inch snake in his yard.

I have said, “I’ve never seen anything like that” a whole lot lately, and here comes another. The first annual Fish On! Lake Waco Catfish Tournament is set for Saturday, and it’s a lot different tourney than you’ve probably ever fished in your life.

Fish On! is a group of folks who came together on social media through a love of fishing and, since organizing, it has not only served as a platform for sharing information, success stories with photo and video backup, and sometimes good-natured hacking at each other over fishing prowess or lack of it.

They’ve teamed up with other organizations to clean up rivers, lakes, and shorelines, and offer merchandise giveaways through their Facebook pages (Fish On! Waco and Fish On! Texas.)

Now, thanks to growing calls by area anglers who primarily bank fish, Fish On! organizer Andre Bravo says he and others decided to give it a try. “We got a lot of requests from all over the area, mostly from bank fishermen, to put together a tournament so they could compete and have a shot at bragging rights.

What makes this tournament different is the how and when anglers will be fishing. Registration begins at 6 p.m. on Saturday afternoon at Lacy Point boat ramp, and the competition runs from 7 p.m. Saturday until 3 a.m. on Sunday morning. Weigh-in will take place at 3:30 a.m.

The tournament restricts the use of boats, kayaks, noodling, limb lines, trot lines, or jug lines. Rod-and-reel bank fishing is the only method allowed, and there’s a 4-pole limit per person. There will also be a “kiddie pole division” – for kids and also adults who choose to fish exclusively with kid equipment.

Bravo says they’re estimating that between 30-50 anglers will compete in the kickoff tournament, but always hopes for more, saying that future tournaments will benefit needy groups or organizations that do good for people.

Entry is $20 for singles and $35 per two-man team, and there’s a 100 percent payout to at least the top 2 teams, and $5 of the entry fees will go into the big fish pot, Bravo said. The winning team will also take home a trophy.

There’s a five-fish limit for weigh-in per team, and fish must be either flathead, blue, or channel catfish. Fish must be alive to qualify, and the slot limit on blue cats is in effect, so bring a tape measure. Blue catfish must be returned to the water if they measure within the slot length of 30-45 inches. Plus, only one fish per angler may be kept measuring greater than 45 inches.

Each competitor will receive a wrist band and qualifies for drawings and giveaways. Sponsors include Bubba’s 33-Waco, Gutierrez Cleaning Services, Yak-n-Bass, Wendy’s, Cottonwood Creek Golf Course, Del Follis of Texas Farm Bureau Insurance, and California non-profit group Patriot Outdoors.

Bravo says they’re planning more tournaments, giveaways, trash clean-up days, and more. For more information, visit the Fish On! Facebook page.

Infamous anniversary

It was almost seven years ago to the day that my daughter Haley and I were walking along holding hands, when suddenly she jumped into the air and kicked like a ninja. I figured she was just reenacting a show she had seen, but then she said something that shook my soul.

She had been bitten by a rattlesnake. Right there in a well-kept yard by the driveway.

If you’d like more of that story, you can check out the Sept. 12, 2010 edition of the Tribune-Herald. It’s available as an online search, or you could probably go down to a library basement and wrangle with the microfiche machine.

Next time we meet here, dove season will be underway, and the likelihood of hunters encountering dangerous creatures will skyrocket. And like my daughter proved seven years ago and Will Harkey did recently, danger can be anywhere.

Harkey, who lives near Lake Waco off of Lake Shore Drive in Waco, found and dispatched a big rattlesnake in his back yard last Friday night. The snake measured 51 inches, had 11 rattles, and was well-fed, Harkey said.

A first-aid kit is a vital part of an outdoorsman’s gear. Even the most aware, experienced hunters and anglers get in a tight spot once in a while.

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