By TODD NAFE
Mother Nature needs to take her meds back and stop with these wild temperature swings. Last week he lived up to the ‘Texas weather’ saying we had to wait for a day and a different season would come along, and planning a spring fishing trip was hard to do with winter coming. stuck his head out the window and breathed his icy breath on us.
I managed to get in the water one morning last week, and even though the majority of sunfish, largemouth bass, and white bass don’t spawn in Lake Waco yet, I managed to catch and release some fish from the South Bosque before the lunch bell rang.
It was not yet daylight when I set up a few light action rods and reels with crappie rigs, and before I left I called a store where I usually buy minnows to make sure that they had a few dozen.
Now I don’t want to be like that bitter old man who complained about the size of treats when he was a kid, or how far he had to walk to school in the snow, but when I was growing up , bait shops were as numerous as Baptist churches. That morning, just before leaving for the river, all the places told me the same thing: the truck will arrive after lunch.
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This news knocked my confidence down a few notches because I had already set up my game plan, with minnows, and I had visualized my cork disappearing under the surface a few dozen times, followed by me in cooking skillets of crappie fillets for us and the neighbors. It was a nice plan until the tanker driver overslept.
But I rewrote the game plan, re-rigged the poles with jigs and swim bait, and went down to the river to play. When I got there I saw a few people fishing on the shore, as well as a few guys wading and fly fishing, and both of them dragging a line of fish behind them.
Fly fishermen are much like the canary in the white bass fishing coal mine. If they don’t catch anything, then there are probably no sandies running around. But they each had four or five fish, and that was motivation enough for me to get in the water.
I worked my way downriver to the main lake, thinking the whites would stage near the mouth of the river, and hit some crappie habitat along the way. It wasn’t exactly a successful day in terms of fishing, with only a handful on board, but it would have made a decent lunch for one.
Warming water temperatures over the next few days should get the fish going, but the missing ingredient needed to trigger white bass spawning is stream flow, and with water levels low and no rain expected for the coming week, whites may end up spawning in the main lake along rocky, sandy points instead of migrating upstream.
There is a minimum length restriction of 10 inches on crappie and white bass, and each has a daily bag limit of 25 fish per angler. It’s a good idea to have a tape measure handy because “looking at it” can cost you dearly if your fish are short.
In any sport, fundamental skills are essential for success, and the most important skill in fishing is casting. Casting a lure badly into a tree or other hazard is a great way to not catch a fish. As you attempt to free the hook from the limb, the fish below will likely sense the commotion and move to a less threatening environment.
Over the years, I’ve kept my casting skills honed by practicing the craft of setting up targets in the yard — and even around the house — and throwing, flipping, and throwing bait at them. I’ve honed my hand-eye-equipment coordination to the point that even though I’m not catching the most fish, it’s not for lack of amazing casts.
This Saturday, Allen Samuels Dodge, 201 W. Loop 340 in Waco, will host a Kids Casting Competition event for kids to learn and compete in skill and accuracy challenges for bragging rights and prizes.
Saturday’s event is one of 12 scheduled in Waco and attendance is free. All equipment is provided, and you can register and learn more at fishkidathearth.org.
Answer: This is the best time
I’ve been lucky enough to fish a few times with Charlie Pack on his Fishin’ Country TV show, and every time I let my friends and family know the air date and time, I always got the same question: “Why is it on at half past five in the morning?”
The answer is that if fishing shows aired at 8 a.m. on Saturday mornings, most of the target audience would already be fishing. Those pre-dawn shows also serve to keep those fishing juices going – watching someone catch fish while you’re having lunch and loading up your gear is almost like a dynamic rally, and by the time you hit the water, you have your face game.