A sixth-generation central Texan, Ken Milam spent the majority of his life around the freshwater fishing areas of Lake Buchanan and the Colorado River. Today, he guides freshwater fishing expeditions during the week and hosts two hunting and fishing radio shows on the weekends for The Zone 103.1 FM. Listeners can catch Milam’s shows, “The Great Outdoors” on Saturdays and “The Sunday Sportsman” on Sundays from 6:00-8:00 a.m. Milam hosts his shows as if he’s talking to his buddies around the fire. He also features guides from around Texas and nearby states. Horns Illustrated visited with Milam to talk about the great outdoors and fishing with former Longhorn athletes.
We heard you played a bit of college football yourself.
I started playing ball in Bastrop and finished off my high school career at Llano. I was initially recruited by Texas but they planned to redshirt me. I told coach [Darrell K] Royal that if I wasn’t going to play, I was going to San Angelo State. So I went to San Angelo and played football there. I was a defensive tackle and enjoyed playing nose guard. I loved when that hit would come up on the center. I knew when the center was fixing to snap, and I’d grab the top of his helmet and stick him in the dirt.
Tell me about your fishing expeditions with some of the former players.
Marty Akins played quarterback back in the day and he’s the first to come to mind. We were out on a scorching summer day last year and I told him, “Marty, I think it’s going to be slow.” We’re drifting along and a thousand fish swim by. We’ve got nine rods in the water and suddenly we have eight fish on at one time. He’s reeling fish in just as fast as he can pick up rods, and I’m baiting poles and putting them back down. Marty finally turns to me and asks, “Ken is this slow?” And I responded, “It damn sure is Marty. You’re going to see when it gets fast.” Marty — who’s also Drew Brees’ uncle — and I are good friends and have been fishing together for a while.
I’ve had Dusty Mangum out and a bunch of Marty’s linemen. I can’t recall all of their names. I’ve had NFL players come and fish with me as well. When you run 150 days straight without a day off, names leave you after a while.
Why did you become a guide?
I wanted to turn more friends onto the great outdoors. I also wanted to get as many kids off their butts as possible. My goal is to show kids the outdoors, and make them love fishing and hunting. If I can get them to catch a few fish, there’s no telling how much fun they can have. Kids will start fishing when they hook their fist perch. Give a kid a bucket of worms, put him on the dock and just let him sit there and jerk in a little two-inch perch. I fish with an old judge and he once told me, “Ken, I’ve never put a kid in jail that had a hunting and fishing license in his pocket.” The deal is those kids put all of their extra time into hunting and fishing, instead of getting into trouble.
People’s lives change when they learn how to freshwater fish … it gives them another avenue.
Is May a good time of year for fishing in Texas?
Heck yeah! We start catching our big fish in May. In April we’ll three to seven-pound stripers, but in May we’ll catch 12 to 17-pound fish. You’ll get a lot of largemouth bass in the shallows. Texas offers a variety of fishing: cat fishing, largemouth bass fishing and striper fishing.
May is the beginning of summer and the end of spring. The fish know that the water’s about to get hot, so they start eating while the water is still a good temperature. May freshwater fishing is excellent fishing. We’re coming off of the top water fish and doing more of the deeper slabbing or live baiting.
Where’s the best place to fish within 30 miles of UT?
The answer depends on what type of fish you want to catch. For striper fishing, I’d recommend Lake Buchanan. If you want to fish for a largemouth bass or a black bass, head to Lake Austin. Three ShareLunkers — a 13-pound or larger bass — have been caught at Lake Austin this year. Lake Austin is a good, big largemouth bass fishery, and it’s right inside the city limits.
Tell me about the area’s upcoming fishing tournaments.
The Central Texas Water Coalition Bass Tournament is taking place April 21-22, and it’s a $10,000 guarantee tournament. You can find more information on the Texas Tournament Zone website (ttz1.com), including application forms. We’re also using the I Heart Radio app on our smartphones during the tournament. As fishermen, we’ve learned to use our smartphones to sustain our outdoor resources and save fish. For example, if you’re fishing a trout tournament down on the Gulf of Mexico and somebody already caught and weighed a nine pound trout, we can broadcast it over the radio. Then if other fishermen catch a big trout that weighs less, they can unhook it and throw it back. With this app, they know that the big fish is nine pounds and to claim the prize money they need to reel in something bigger.