If your football team disappointed you last week as much as mine did me, you might decide that Saturdays this fall could be better spent being a participant rather than a spectator.

Competitive bass fishing was pioneered by the late, great Earl Golding, who worked the Tribune-Herald outdoor desk for more than 50 years, and today, competitive anglers number upwards of 40 million people.

Right here in Central Texas, there are a number of bass clubs and tournament trails, and one of the up-and-comers in recent years is the Heart O’ Texas Fair and Rodeo South 40 Trail.

The South 40 Trail offers a series of qualifying tournaments through the fall and winter that culminate with a championship weekend tourney in March, and the kickoff takes place a week from today on Lake Waco.

Entry for each qualifier is $200 per two-person team with a guaranteed payout of $3500 for first place, and subsequent events are scheduled for Oct. 28 at Limestone, Jan. 20 at Belton, and Feb. 17 at Whitney. The championship takes place Mar. 24-25 at Lake Waco.

Jerry Maddox and Nathan Donnell won the 2017 championship with a two-day combined weight of 37.78 pounds, earning them a brand new Nitro Z19 boat from Waco Motorsports.

The South 40 is in its 6th year, and provides scholarships for McLennan County and other Central Texas youth. So far, nearly $200,000 has been awarded in scholarship money.

For more information on the South 40 Tournament Trail, call Morgan Smart at 254-224-8288, e-mail morgan@hotfair.com, or visit the South 40 Trail Facebook page.

Keep Waco clean

The 1970’s commercial featuring an American Indian with a tear running down his cheek while overlooking a vista covered with litter was the first powerful anti-littering message I remember. In the 80’s, our state took a different tack to attack littering with its “Don’t Mess With Texas” ad campaign, and both raised awareness and a sense of pride in keeping trash where it belongs.

But there are still some among us who either don’t think about or don’t care about leaving their garbage behind, and for a city that could use a reputation boost, Waco is leaving a bad impression on visitors.

A lot of the trash that tourists to the downtown area see floating in Lake Brazos didn’t come from fishermen – most of that garbage was dropped on the ground or tossed out a car window in various parts of town, then washed down creeks and drainage pipes into the river.

If you want to fight back and help clean up some of the mess, you can join the Lake Waco Corps of Engineers, Fish On! Texas, Group W Bench Litter Patrol, and other groups on Saturday at Airport Park beach from 9 a.m. – noon for a cleanup day.

Pickers and garbage bags will be provided, and the first 50 people who show up will get a free Chipotle burrito. Door prizes will also be awarded. Organizers urge volunteers to bring garden gloves for protection.

For more information, visit the Group W Bench Litter Patrol Facebook page.

Places to hunt

There are still plenty of shotgun blasts crackling through the Central Texas air, but a lot of dove hunters have gotten their itches scratched and are eyeing archery season, which is slated to open less than three weeks from now on Sept. 30.

I’ve gotten some texts lately from people looking for places to hunt, and if you’re in need of a place, there’s always the $48 public hunting permit, that, in combination with your hunting license, opens up roughly a million acres of private and public land (a good bit of which is within a relatively short drive from Waco) for hunting a variety of species.

Check the TPWD website for more information on this affordable option.

Licenses available

Thanks to Gary Payne of Brazos Feed & Supply for the heads-up on a story that’ll be featured in next week’s Tribune-Herald outdoors. Some anglers from the Longview area went to his store to weigh a monster-sized gar from the Brazos on Friday that measured more than 7 feet in length and weighed nearly 200 pounds.

If you haven’t bought your hunting/fishing license yet, purchase it at Brazos Feed & Supply (1505 LaSalle in Waco) and you’ll be registered for the Nov. 4 drawing for a Yeti cooler.

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