nafe with crappie

The writer, Todd Nafe, happily shows his quality crappie he caught last week on Lake Waco while fishing a feeder stream using a red jig head with a chartreuse tail. That’s Todd on the right.

When outdoor legend Earl Golding was writing this column, he’d occasionally file one that was titled, “Long Shots and Short Casts” or “Short Shots and Long Casts” – I can’t remember which.

But what it amounted to was that all the pieces of his column had roughly the same length and priority, and so there wasn’t really a lead story that stood out.

That’s how this week’s Tribune-Herald outdoor column ended up. I think all these pieces are relevant, but they took about the same amount of space. So here’s to my outdoor writing mentor and hero.

Young Turks opening

It has been over a month since the last meaningful football game, and longer than that since the last meaningful hunting season closed, but springtime is a season of hope, and with the NFL draft coming up, football fans have a little taste of football on the way.

Hunters, however, get a little more than just a taste, as this weekend marks the opening of the Spring Turkey season. But hold your horses – before you grab your shotgun and head to the blind, this is Youth-Only weekend. The general season opens on Mar. 31 and continues through May 13 in the North Zone.

If you’re planning to scratch your hunting itch, make sure to check the TPWD Outdoor Annual for specific regulations that might apply to the county or area you’re hunting.

Outdoor Expo-sure

The 2018 South 40 Outdoor Expo continues Sunday from 11 a.m. through 5 p.m. at the Heart O’ Texas Fairgrounds’ Extraco Events Center. The Expo features about everything an outdoor enthusiast could want, with vendors, exhibitors, seminars, and demos featuring an array of products and services.

Sunday’s lineup of events includes a car and motorcycle show, along with the South 40 Shootout Championship bass tournament weigh-in. The bass tourney is the culminating event in a series of qualifying competitions held throughout the fall and winter months on Central Texas lakes.

Guiding at Whitney

Lake Whitney striper guide Clay Yadon (Reel Deal Striper Guide Service on Facebook) says it’s a great time to be a guide on the big Centex lake. “Spring has sprung on Whitney,” he said. “We’ve got about a 60 degree water temperature, and some big females are starting to move shallow to spray their eggs.

Striped bass require a lot of water to reproduce naturally, and Whitney rarely has enough water volume to support their upstream spawning runs, so Texas Parks & Wildlife fisheries biologists bolster the striper population through an aggressive stocking and monitoring program.

“We’re killing them on live shad from one end of the lake to the other,” Yadon said, “mostly on main lake humps and channel edges.” Live shad is still the top producing bait, and Yadon says they’re ranging from anywhere in the 25-35 foot depths all the way up to 4 or 5 feet.

“They’re day to day on topwaters,” he said. “When they’re surface feeding, it’s a rodeo. There’s not much more fun than catching them like that.”

He’s catching limits every day, often culling after a short time on the water to improve the average size, and they’re catching some quality-sized fish, too, with some pushing the upper teens and 30-inch lengths.

Crappie mania

April 14 marks the 47th annual Waco Bass Club Lake Waco Crappie Tournament, and it’s shaping up to be a perfect time to host a crappie competition.

Reports and social media posts are indicating that crappie are moving into the shallows to spawn, and some folks have caught impressive numbers over the past week. But it’s not just the numbers getting people’s attention – Lake Waco is yielding a lot of big crappie, sometimes referred to as “slabs” – and most reports say females are carrying mature eggs, meaning that when competitors motor off to their spots on the 14th, there should be plenty of big ones waiting.

Headquarters will be at the Lacy Point boat ramp.

For more information, text James Windham at 254-495-2772.

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