Stalking the White Ghosts

Texas Rivers, Warm Water Fish

**********So Much Stuff Coming This Week. Stay Tuned.************

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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.

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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.

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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.

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  • 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!

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IMG_0013 photo courtesy of www.uncommonangler.com

If you even dabble in tying flies, especially for bass, you’ve doubtlessly read or heard of Pat Cohen. In a world of talented but low key fly tiers he stands out like a rock star sporting his sleeve tattoos, wooly beard, shaved head and ear piercings. While he may not look like your casual fly tier, one glance at his output immediately lets you know that you’re watching an expert at work. Pat’s deer hair divers are such works of art that they frequently sell as exactly that, commanding top dollar for some of his “Display Flies” well the workhorses in his stable catch big bass after big bass (check out his work at www.rusuperfly.com).

Fortunately for those of us here in central Texas, Sportsman’s Finest is bringing Pat in to town for a presentation of his fly tying technique this Saturday.

Come and join us to see the talented and extremely creative professional fly tyer, Pat Cohen, who will demonstrate some of his patterns and share his tips and skills with you. Pats specialty is deer hair bass bugs but he ties everything from streamers to nymphs. The artistic freedom that fly tying offers, is what drew him to it. All of his flies are meant to be fished with the exception of the display offerings. Every piece of each bug – be it the hair, feathers, or weed guards – has a purpose. The final product is a fish catching fly and a miniature sculpture all in one. To his way of thinking, there is nothing like watching a five pound bucketmouth or an 18 inch smallie erupting from the water to crush one of his bugs as it’s drawn across the surface.  Pat is a member of some the following pro teams, Clear Cure Goo, EP Flies, Dr. Slick, Jackson Kayak, Werner Paddles, Peak Vices, Loon Outdoors, Partridge Hooks and Carp Pro Magazine. He regularly demonstrates fly tying at various events and fly shops on the east coast and we are excited get him down to Texas!!   – www.sportsmanfinest.com

This Saturday, May 2nd at 11AM at Sportsman’s Finest, free admission. Hope to see you there!

DSC_0002photo courtesy of www.rusuperfly.com

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It’s that time again, the Fly Fishing Film Tour is making it’s annual appearance here in Austin! If you’ve been before you already know that it’s a hell of a lot of fun. If for some reason you’ve never been, all you need to know is that it’s the second best thing to actually fishing. The night is basically comprised of vendors and free food, with drinks for purchase as well as raffle tickets for some amazing prizes followed by a diverse and stellar line up of fly fishing films that will most assuredly make you want to call in sick on Friday.

If you need more to get stoked or hold you over until the FFFT click here to check out the previews for the night.

P.S. I’m super excited to mention that longtime die Fische fan and supporter R.C. Cone’s film “Yow: Icelandic for Yes” will be showing and it’s definitely one you don’t want to miss!

 

The original “Go-Pro Gangsta” is back after almost a year away from the limelight. That’s right, Yukon Goes Fishing has returned with his classic beats, fish and shots to show us once again, just how much awesomeness you can create when you got mad skills. Props YGF!

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When people hear “Austin, Texas” they always enjoy running through a list of things they know and love about it: ACL, SXSW, 6th Street, Circuit of Americas, Willie Nelson, BBQ, the Longhorns and Town Lake. Luckily the Lower Colorado below Town Lake almost never comes up unless you’re talking to a fisherman or a meth head (if you’ve ever been there, you know i’m not just being flippant.)

Built in 1960 to help create Town Lake (yes it’s now called Lady Bird Lake, but that’s not the name i was given when introduced to her, so forgive me using its historic name) in downtown Austin, the Longhorn Dam is essentially the end of the Highland Lakes chain that starts far upstream from Austin. After many miles of retention and doubtless confusion on its part this is where the manicured and essentially castrated Colorado gets to get back to doing what it likes to do, flowing wild and free, unimpeded all the way to the coast.

While it’s been a while since i’d visited the area below Longhorn dam, i recently had a couple of free hours and decided to revisit this watershed in hopes of a quick fix before returning to family obligations. Within minutes i was parking, stashing extra gear under the seats and making my way down the rough and raw concrete embankment, dodging poison ivy like it was the plague.

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Not that long ago (a year or two) this area below the dam was known as Secret Beach and housed what can only be described as a “colorful kaleidoscope of unique individuals intent on pushing the boundaries of societal norms.” I’m not sure if it’s just to early in the season for them to hatch, or if i just lucked out, but i suprisingly found myself enjoying the cool waters with nary a soul in site, despite the fact that it was a Sunday afternoon.

As mentioned above, the Colorado runs free and mostly unimpeded from here to the coast. As an ichthyologist friend of mine mentioned years ago, this means there is always the possibility of a myriad of species making their way upstream to spawn before running into this giant obstacle and sulking around the deeper pools wondering why they even bothered in the first place.

The fishing wasn’t phenomenal, but it was late in the day, and honestly just the fact that i was fishing water with some BIG potential after just a ten minute drive was more than enough to keep me grinning like a fool.  That grin got extra wide when the 6WT jostled in my hand and i managed to bring a small white bass into the net (after a myriad of bolting runs.) I seriously probably did five or six takes before believing that i did indeed have a white bass (above) in my net, which seemed not only unlikely but also annoying after driving so many hours the last month or two to find them further up in the Highland Lakes.

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Granted, the drives to those spots further upstream are rewarded with many more naturally scenic wonders, but something about being right on the other side of a thirty foot wall of concrete and metal that’s holding back the development, headaches and problems of a city of close to 1,000,000 walled up on the other side while you’re fishing well below the lakes water line, catching fish you didn’t expect, can have a dizzying effect that’s hard to put in words. (Unless i just did?)

Anyway, it’s there and it’s waiting for you to suck it up and realize that sometimes (most of the time) it’s not about spring creeks, snow capped mountains, clear spring waters, or shifting tides. Sometimes it’s just about you and the fish, regardless of the scenery. Other times? It’s just about the fish…and it’s at times like these you’ll do best by checking your expectations and ego at the door. If i did it you can too.

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Don’t be scared, it’s the new issue of This is Fly!