Saturday was my dad’s birthday, and I really miss that old guy. He taught me to fish at an early age – I think I was about 3 when he took me on my first trip to a lake near San Angelo, and when we got back home a couple of hours after dark, I had my first fish still in my hand.

That makes for a good story today, but when my mom saw the dried-out sunfish stuck in my clutches hours after we were supposed to get back, I’m sure there wasn’t much laughter or celebration. I recall spending a lot of time in the tub getting scrubbed, and I wasn’t too pleased at losing a couple layers of skin, either.

Dad put in a lot of time building up my love for the outdoor sports, and we fished together up until just a few months before his death. Our last fishing trip together is burned into my mind with clarity. We were paddling the South Bosque during the white bass spawning run, and it was one of those legendary days when we found fish everywhere we went. We were on pace to boat hundreds of fish, but the Baylor women’s basketball team was playing that day, so we cut the trip short and left the fish still biting.

He made trips a lot of fun, and always brought plenty of sugary drinks and snacks. Most importantly, he had backup plans in case things didn’t go as hoped. I found a lot of arrowheads and fossilized shark teeth along area shorelines and riverbanks, and mastered the art of rock-skipping during slow days on the water.

There’s no doubt that the time I spent outdoors growing up kept me from getting into more trouble than I would’ve otherwise, and like fishing hall-of-famer Charlie Pack used to tell me, “It’s hard to get into trouble with a fishing pole in your hand.”

I keep using Dad’s example to bring more kids and their families into the outdoor sports, and I hope to expand my influence even further beginning in the next couple of months with an outdoors outreach program. In the meantime, if you’re listening, I love and miss you, old man. HB2U.

South 40 Trail tourney

Competition was tight at the South 40 Trail’s kickoff tournament on Lake Waco last week, with the winning team of Jordan and Hayden Grimm edging out the second place finishers, Mark Beckmann and Chuck Maomi, by just 4/100’s of a pound. The Grimms also took big fish honors over Beckmann and Maomi with an 8.54-pounder vs. 8.41. In all, 107 teams competed, 245 fish weighing nearly 550 pounds were weighed and released back into the lake.

The remaining events on the South 40 Trail are Oct. 27 at Lake Limestone, Jan. 19 at Lake Belton, Feb. 9 at Lake Whitney, and the championship tournament March 23-24. The tournament series is affiliated with the Extraco Events Center and has raised more than $100,000 in scholarship money for Central Texas youth.

Head to the coast

Fall is a great time to head to the coast. The off-season rates are kicking in, crowds are smaller, the weather is milder, and fishing is excellent.

Reports from last week indicate good action for trout in bays and passes, and anglers should be using their binoculars to locate gulls and other birds that are following big schools of fish. Be patient and avoid running the big motor into the mix – get within range and make long casts into the schools to avoid scattering fish. Soft plastics and topwaters are top-producing baits.

Bull reds are also running hot at the Port Aransas jetty, with cracked crabs and mullet paying big dividends.

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