Nineteen teams, battered by wind, rain, and hail, braved Saturday morning’s wild weather to vie for the top prize and bragging rights at the 49th Annual Waco Bass Club Lake Waco Crappie Tournament.

Director Ron Company said the turnout was significantly lower this year than in previous years, but the folks who did show up to compete were die-hard crappie anglers, and by late morning, none of the teams had hung up their rods and headed back to tourney headquarters to weigh their fish.

The morning started off nice enough, giving competitors a good window of time to fish before the opening act of storms arrived. As the morning edged towards noon, heavy rain, hailstones, and lightning bolts – plus reports of a tornado to our south and the likelihood of wrap-around rain – kept a lot of folks indoors.

The team of mother and son Diane and Stephen Richter, in their 23rd year of fishing the tourney together, took first place with a total weight of 20.90 pounds. Jared Talbert and Reid Carlisle placed second at 20.21. and Clinton and Cainan Joseph came in third with a sack weighing 18.52.

Jason and Zander Windham (family of the late James Windham, who was my point of contact on the tournament for years) landed in fourth place with a total weight of 16 pounds. Zander, James’ grandson, won the youth division with .83. Three teams tied for the big crappie with fish that weighed 1.48.

The legend of Montoya

When Tony Montoya talks catfishing, people listen. The Waco angler has built a reputation over the years, and has made numerous appearances in this column for his big-fish prowess.

Last December, Montoya added to his legend by setting two Lake Brazos blue catfish records on the same day. He and Cody Cox were fishing on the morning of December 2 when Montoya hooked and landed a 40.8-pounder, which knocked aside the previous record of 39.5 pounds.

Later that afternoon, the pair headed back to the Brazos for round two and broke the record Montoya had set that morning. The fish weighed 52.6 pounds and measured nearly 4 feet long.

Not one to sit on his accomplishments, Montoya continues to prowl the banks of the Brazos, and was generous enough to offer some tips on how to catch river monsters.

“The bite is on and we’re catching them in 8-15 feet of water,” Montoya said. “I don’t own a boat, so it’s all from the bank, and sometimes we have to walk a good ways to get to the right place.”

Montoya targets points on the river and uses shad chunks, saying that lately, the fish wouldn’t hit the bigger pieces of bait (he caught his record on a 7-inch cut bait), so he’s cutting them smaller and having good luck.

On recent trips with Cox and Willie Davis, the group has caught a good number and a good variety of big fish. “When the catfish move out of an area, the hybrids and stripers move in,” he said. They’ve kept some for the dinner table, but have thrown most back – including some up to 15-pounds.

Montoya fishes all along the river, but says the Mouth of the Bosque has been good to him lately.

Crappie King

The 2nd annual Crappie King Kids Fishing Day benefiting Autism Awareness will happen on May 18 from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. at Lake Waco’s Twin Bridges Pavilion. There will be more than just fishing – with features including a rock climbing wall, inflatables, snow cone machine, face painting, lure making, food trucks, and live music courtesy of the Gordon Collier Band.

Sponsors and boat captains are welcomed. For more information, call Greg Culverhouse at 254-722-2931.

Your friend, the snake?

It’s that time of year when more people will be heading to the lakes, parks, working in their gardens, cooking out in the back yard, playing golf, hiking, biking, and just spending time outdoors.

It’s also the time of year when snakes, lizards, and other creatures that spent the winter in low-power mode will start to become more active. These two facts will obviously mean more face-to-face encounters between humans and reptiles.

Some folks see a snake and automatically assume it’s a rattlesnake or water moccasin. Rat snakes have a reasonable resemblance to rattlesnakes because of their patterns, and diamondback water snakes make people wonder if they’re seeing a cottonmouth or swimming rattler or some cross between the two.

There are a lot of snakes in Central Texas, but just a small percentage of them are venomous. Rat snakes do a whole lot more good around your house than traps or poison when it comes to controlling bugs and mice, but some people’s first reaction to seeing a snake is that they’ll try to kill it.

There are plenty of credible websites that will help you identify what kind of snake you are seeing, and most will either move on or stick around and help you out with pest control. I don’t like the idea of venomous snakes being around my place, and I have dispatched a few over the years, but if you can contain a dangerous snake, there are organizations around the area who will pick it up and relocate it.

I am always glad to see a rat snake around a shed or out-building. They may be nasty-tempered, but they’re a whole lot more useful to me than a bunch of mice trying to set up housekeeping in my painting supplies or camping gear.

Recommended for you