If you haven’t noticed, numbers are a big deal to most fishermen.

From how much did a particular catch weigh on the scale to what the length and girth of a fish happens to be to how many fish actually got caught on an outing, the simple truth is that fishing trip stories rarely get told without some sort of number being attached.

As 2020 begins — and that’s a big number for many of us — numbers are also a big part of the annual trout fishing tradition in Denison each winter.

That’s especially true at Waterloo Lake Park Pond, a spot where the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has planted an enormous number of put-and-take rainbow trout over the years according to Andrew Means, the recreation manager for Denison Parks and Recreation.

“From 1993 to 2004, when TPWD stocked trout in Waterloo Lake itself, a total of 55,529 rainbow trout were stocked,” said Means. “After that, from 2004 to now, a total of 101,806 rainbow trout have been stocked into the Waterloo Lake Park Pond. By the way, that numerical info comes courtesy of TPWD’s Todd Robinson.”

Add those numbers up and that works out to 157,335 rainbows being stocked at the community lake in D-Town. Those are big figures for sure and that’s no tall fishing tale either.

If the total number of rainbow trout stocked by TPWD at Waterloo is big — and that figure includes the 1,600-plus rainbows being stocked there this week—such figures have worked to fuel another big number that the City of Denison is admittedly proud of.

And that’s simply this, a quarter century of trout fishing fun thanks to Denison’s annual adult trout derby. The City’s 25th such derby is scheduled for Waterloo Lake Park Pond this Saturday morning, Jan. 4 from 9-11:30 a.m.

While the actual event itself is celebrating its 25th edition this weekend, under the derby’s current name, it’s actually the 13th Annual Howard Caylor Adult Trout Derby.

“The event was renamed in 2008 in honor of one of our former Denison employees named Howard Caylor,” said Means. “Mr. Caylor was a former Parks and Recreation Maintenance Foremen whose life was unexpectedly taken on the job back in 2007.”

Means said that after the tragedy, a way to honor Caylor’s life and outdoors passion was evident to city officials.

“Howard was an avid outdoorsman who never missed an opportunity to help out in many different capacities with the fishing derbies put on by the City,” he said. “In honor of Howard, City staff recommended changing the name of the event back in 2008. It became known that year as the Howard Caylor Adult Trout Derby and it’s been known that way ever since.”

According to Means, the 2020 event runs from 9 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. and is open to men and women ages 17 and older. The cost is $7 for Denison residents and $10 for non-resident anglers. Included in the cost is the derby entrance fee, a door prize drawing chance, and a hot dog lunch.

If the numbers of stocked trout and actual D-Town trout derbies are big, so too are some of the prizes being offered this year.

“We’ll award $100 for the largest trout caught, $50 for the smallest trout caught, and $25 for the heaviest stringer of a limit of five trout,” said Means. “There will also be prizes awarded for golden trout that are caught during the event.”

Means also noted that the first 50 registered participants for the event will receive a free derby cap. As noted above, there are also several door prize drawings open to anyone who participates. And TPWD will be conducting a casting contest during the derby hours with both a Men’s and Women’s champion to be crowned.

But while prizes are one lure to the event — yes, the pun is intended — another is just the sheer fun of getting out on a winter day to catch fish that will actually bite during the cold water season.

“The rainbow trout program from TPWD provides our community with a unique wintertime fishing opportunity by the stocking of these catchable size rainbow trout,” said Means.

Able to survive in Texas only during the four-month long stretch of cold water that occurs from November through March each season, Means says that the adult trout derby has always been positioned on the calendar right after the Christmas Day and New Year’s Day holidays have taken place.

“The Adult Derby has historically been held the first Saturday in January,” he said. “Obviously, weather plays a large role in the participation that takes place each year for the event. However, the numbers have been pretty consistent over the years.”

Means said that the put-and-take rainbow trout stocking provides fishing fun no matter an angler’s skill level. In other words, veteran anglers and newbie’s stand an equal chance at achieving derby success.

“With the large number of trout being stocked, it’s not very difficult to catch your limit,” said Means. “Power Bait eggs, corn kernels, and marshmallows seem to be the bait of choice for many anglers. Some anglers find success with artificial baits such as Super Dupers and small Rooster Tails. And we even have some fly fisherman that have success each winter.”

If you are an artificial lure fisherman or a fly angler, keep in mind that a little extra caution should be exercised at the Waterloo Lake Park Pond this weekend. Why is that? Because the act of casting in crowded conditions can be a challenge and then some. Always be mindful of who is near your position — especially behind you — and what the safe casting zones are.

Means said that all state and local fishing regulations apply at the adult trout derby on Saturday as well as at the other youth and family derbies scheduled later on this winter. He also noted that registration is open prior to the event for those who visit the City of Denison website at www.cityofdenison.com/parksrec. Registration and event check-in will also be available the morning of the event beginning at 8 a.m.

For more information about the City of Denison’s 13th Annual Howard Caylor Adult Trout Derby, call the Denison Parks and Rec office during business hours today at 903-463-5116.