With all the local creeks and rivers swelling at the banks, like expectant mothers ready to deliver, things have been a little out of sorts around here in central Texas. After years of drought and little to no rain, we’ve suddenly found ourselves bathed in constant waters that read like something out of a chapter on the great northwest. High flows and off color waters have taken what few fish have survived the drought and spread them out in their expansive and murky waters making the fly fishing on local creeks and rivers nothing if not downright challenging.
After days of being stymied by these challenges i decided to seek out waters largely unaffected by the downpours, and took up refuge on the still waters of Lake Bastrop just east of Austin.
Completed in 1964 Lake Bastrop has a long history as a year round fishery due to its being a cooling reservoir for the resident power plant. While the best days for bass fishing are fall and spring, bass can be coaxed out even in the middle of winter thanks to this year round warm water. Though i have yet to check it out in the heat of summer, i’m guessing that its warm water combined with the surface heat means that the alligator gar and carp will be in abundance, something i’ll definitely report on in a few months.
The one thing i can relate from experience about Lake Bastrop is that it should probably be named Lake Windsock due to its almost uncanny ability to magnify any sort of light breeze into a gale force wind that somehow is always coming at you head on. Sitting on my fairly simple paddle board, it was a little unnerving to have the wind waves toss me to and fro while trying to paddle for the closest cove in hopes of some calmness.
No sooner had i made it to the shelter of the cove than i turned around to see an ominously dark and threatening sky, lit on the periphery by bolts of lightning, crawling across the sky towards me. Pulling up to what was assuredly private property as the lightning ripped through the sky above, i tied my board to a pine tree and found a dry spot protected by shrub and pine where i waited out the passing storm. Lying on a bed of dry needles, head on my dry bag, sipping wine and chewing on jerky while staring up through the needles, watching the black clouds and white-hot lightning dancing high above me it felt like that moment right before you fall asleep where the real and unreal seem to blend and merge, and you can never really tell what is real and what is fantasy.
Lying there, waiting out the storm i reflected on my own personal drought with fishing with multiple recent trips resulting in little to no fish despite the many hours of desperate casts i’ve made. As the darkness gave way to bluebird skies i untied the paddle board and headed deeper into the cove with heavy hopes.
Casting the 6WT rod and a deer hair popper that wouldn’t look out of place in a Muppets line-up, i worked the banks with an excitement bordering on fervor. There was no real reason to think that i would catch a fish, but for some unknown reason with every cast i felt closer to ending my trail of bad luck. Cast…closer, cast…closer, cast…CLOSER…BOOM! Before i knew it my line was running circles around the board, causing all kinds of contortions on my part to keep it from tangling on the board as well as the downed brush that now seemed everywhere. Applying pressure i felt a sudden quick slack in the line as the bass shot straight up, leaping three feet out of the water while performing an aerial that would make any gymnast proud. Releasing him a few minutes later, it all seemed so surreal, just like the moments under the pine trees, but i promise, it did happen. My dry spell was over.
I figured that would be the only one, but was astounded to land six more over the next few hours, all without the help of my net that somehow was lost to the fishing gods (a reoccurring theme lately as this happened on my last big trip). Apparently i was doing so well that the gods were unsure whether or not the sacrificial net was enough. Paddling through some thicket in a back cove i heard a strange noise and turned around to notice that my back up rod had fought a limb with it line and been gradually pulled off the board and was now otherwise submerged in the 20 foot deep black abyss except for a tiny stretch of line hanging by the smallest piece of bark on a downed tree. Quickly snapping a photo before cautiously grabbing the line, i couldn’t help but mutter some brief thank you to anyone (or anything) that might care enough to listen to my gratitude.
It’s a given that sooner or later the rivers and creeks will return to normal, the fish will settle down and i’ll return to stumbling along their banks or floating their seams. For now though, while moving waters look more like some chocolate milk disaster area, it’s good to know that spots like Lake Bastrop not only have clear water, they also have fish that are gracious enough to help bolster your self esteem. If your offering to the still water gods is sufficient of course.
Speaking of, i REALLY need to start tying my gear down.
We’ve finally received our fresh new batch of trucker hats featuring both the new “Gar Bros. Collective” graphics as well as the classic “Typography Logo” style that has consistently sold out and won’t last long. Thanks to a special deal we scored they are only $15 plus shipping for a hat that is sure to set you apart from the masses while also showing your love for this blog!
Order yours now at diefische.myshopify.com before they run out!
Note: Until the end of the month we’ll even include a genorous handful of our top notch vinyl stickers with every order!
New post coming on Monday! In the mean time enjoy this awesomeness from the guys at www.hooke.ca.
Another fresh installment of the always awesome Geo Bass series courtesy of Costa Sunglasses. This time our friends are in Guyana searching for large peacock bass but also finding some giant arapaima which i’m sure didn’t bum them out to much!
On a side note, i was recently lucky enough to interview the entire Geo Bass cast in person and have to say that they are some of the coolest most down to earth dudes on the planet that still live up to their personas in every way. Stay tuned for the interview as well as your chance to win a free pair of Costas and other schwag, coming soon!
Do you like watching trout slam flies? Me too! Enjoy this latest high quality piece from the folks at www.montana-wild.com featuring some great hits and spectacular scenery.
One or two bad times on a particular body of water can easily be chalked up to bad luck. Three or four? Well there’s probably something more going on with the angler that needs to be corrected. Beyond that? Well, there you’re getting into the land of the jinx. I know this because i have spent numerous trips on the Lower Colorado (the Colroado River below Austin, TX.) and landed only the random smallish bass or gar, while local guide services like All Water Guides continually put not only experienced anglers, but also newbies on bass the size of my right leg. I’m putting in my time though while being sure to spread my bets out by trying different stretches of the river in hopes of some day cashing in.
I’ve routinely fished the areas around Little and Big Webberville but was excited to find that through a lease obtained by Texas State Parks, some river access was now available down river at some property run by the Texas River School. Obtaining access to this private land requires little more than calling a private number the day before to get the thumbs up and the gate code to gain admittance to the shore front property. Once in it’s a simple matter of filling out your usual day pass and dropping it along with $5 in a slot.
A few years ago when Austin was fortunate enough to have MOC Kayak (R.I.P.) around, i had the good fortune to put in behind their shop near Longhorn dam, float and fish the day away, pull off the water at this spot and be shuttled back to the shop for about the same price as a decent inexpensive bottle of wine. With this public access available, it could be done again by putting in at Roy Guerro Park (albeit with some huffing and puffing down the hill) or below highway 183 (just don’t be there after dark).
As it was, i paddled a ways upstream to mess around before heading down to check out the almost mythical weir, a spot that i had heard of many times, mostly with the descriptor “big fish” attached to it. I didn’t manage to catch any big ones, but i did get a nice medium size largemouth that put up a hell of a fight by pulling the old trout trick of using the current as leverage. It wasn’t the goliath i was expecting, but than again this was more what i would consider “recon”, which really is probably just a way to justify a lack of big fish, but it works for me.
On the way back out i did get treated to a deep pool of gar, where i managed to land three beauties before the sky quickly went from a grayish-milky color to an almost “Hell hath no fury” black within minutes. As the wind kicked up, thunder rumbled and lightning cracked the sky, i paddled like a madman back to the camp, the rods low and the rain falling on the river’s surface, audibly sighing, as though it were back home after a long and arduous trip abroad.
It was over for now, but packing up, soaked to the bone i couldn’t help but think that my odds of that “epic day” were improving. The table was hot, i knew all the tips and tricks, now i just need to get dealt a winning hand.
- The information:
- Information from TPWD on the access is available here.
- Additional information on Texas River School is here.
- Current Colorado River flows can be found via USGS here.
- This is a great take out point if you start your day float below Longhorn dam.
- If you head downstream from the camp be cautious, there is a weir a short distance down that should be portaged. There is a large sign alerting you as you approach.
- Camping is available if you’d like to stick around and explore.
- I would highly recommend taking only what you need for your float and leaving everything else at home so as not to tempt the Fates with a break in.
- Get out and go!