The annual white bass spawning run is in motion, with good numbers of fish being reported traveling in schools numbering in the hundreds. A couple of scouting trips I took last week (they’re called scouting trips when you don’t catch much) started out hopeful, as I caught a fish on the first few casts and spotted good schools traveling through, but the whites were skittish and turned off the bite switch.

The number of anglers along area riverbanks swelled last week, and although some reports came in of decent action, the heat of the annual spawning run isn’t here yet. One of the success stories came in from guide John Gilbert (Brazos Kayak Fishing), who has been finding good action on the Middle and North Bosque, along with the Nolan and Navasota rivers using 1/16 ounce jigs tipped with a Berkley Powerbait white paddle-tail minnow.

Other baits producing for him include silver or white Rooster Tails, small silver crankbaits, and Roadrunners. He and others have reported catching some whopper crappie mixed in with the whites.

The run normally hits its peak in April in Central Texas, with males moving upstream in February and March, followed by the egg-laden and larger females. Thanks to timely and substantial recent rainfall, river conditions are right for a quality spawning season.

Blue cats are plumping up

Catfishing legend and Tribune-Herald outdoors contributor Danny King ( has been under the weather and off the water recently, but he’s kept his eyes and ears open, and that, teamed with his long-standing knowledge of catfish behaviors and patterns, reports that you should find blue catfish in the shallows getting pumped up for the spawn.

“They’re getting their bellies full to build up energy for the late spring or early summer spawn,” King said. “Blue cats normally spawn in late May or early June in Central Texas whenever the weather stabilizes at 70-75 degrees for at least two weeks.”

Hope you’re back on the water soon, Danny.

The coast is clear

Area anglers are already eyeing the coast for springtime fishing, and former Central Texas broadcaster Tyler Thorsen, who now resides in the salty coastal sands, says big black drum in the laguna are the ticket right now. “They’re catching 35-45 inchers on mantis shrimp, crab, shrimp, and Crab Fishbites,” he said, adding that fishing is best around the intra-coastal waterway.”

Thorsen caught a nice speck last week from the seashore that measured 25 inches and weighed 5.25 pounds, but said for the most part the surf was blown out. Other species caught include whiting and pompano.

Guide Arthur Toscano has been catching nice trout and reds coming from the North Jetty at Port Aransas on pink soft plastics.

Recreational saltwater anglers are excited for the upcoming and expanded red snapper season, which starts June 1 and runs for 97 days. It’ll be the longest season in more than a decade for the prized red snapper, a favorite table fare among sport fishermen.

Starting Sept. 1, there’ll be a 5-trout per angler per day limit on the upper coast to make the limit regulation for trout uniform all along the Texas coastline. Another added restriction coming along then will require anglers taking an alligator gar to report the date, location, size of the fish, and method used to TPWD’s website or an app that’s still under development.

The gar regulation is in response to a growing number of anglers targeting these impressive fish, which can grow to more than 300 pounds. Apparently, the monster-sized throwback to the dinosaur age is attracting tourists from all over in hopes of snagging a trophy. Biologists will use the data gathered to monitor gar populations and pressure on their numbers.

South 40 Outdoor Expo

The 2019 South 40 Outdoor Expo continues today 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 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.

Tasty tidbit?

The entire body of a catfish is covered with taste buds. The average catfish has over 27,000 taste buds, while humans have about 7,000 – all in our heads.

Maybe we humans are just not refined enough to appreciate the true flavor of stink bait.

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