Stalking the White Ghosts

Texas Rivers, Warm Water Fish

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Gar. I first caught one by accident many years ago on the Pedernales (story here). At the time i was new to fly fishing, and therefore didn’t know to be in awe or appreciate the random fish luck that the Fates were throwing my way. Despite the acrobatic fight and near puncture wounds inflicted by a surprising snap on the beach it all seemed relatively easy, i was sure i could do it again whenever i felt like it.

Right.

Years would go by before i ever brought another one of these creatures to hand. Countless flies, leaders and hours were gone through with wild abandon before it all clicked and i could hook one of these elongated dinosaurs with any sort of regularity. A majority of those empty hours were spent at Pedernales State Park stalking the sandy shallows and bathing in the shade of the abundant bald cypress that border the river. I found the shadows of their needle like leaves and the rawness of their bark so alluring that eventually i planted a cypress in my back yard years ago in effort to bring some of that serenity home, but also because it makes an excellent barometer for what’s going on around the Pedernales.

When that cypress shoots out its first buds i start tying up the gar flies, shaking in anticipation. A few weeks later when its chopstick like branches start to become bathed in green it’s the sign that it’s time, they’re back. The gar have returned.

Checking in on my cypress, i knew it was time. After a brief drive and hike and i was suddenly soaking in the green-ness that the shores of the Pedernales provided. Not only were the trees active and energetic, much like the one at home, but the gar were here as well, albeit slightly lethargic, but present none the less. The gar seemed to be in the same boat as i, trying to remember our dance steps without stepping on each others feet. Eventually, after a few hours of half hearted strikes and bumbled hook sets, we both remembered the dance and glided around the floor.

Walking back to the car i initially felt annoyed that it took twenty or so gar to finally land one of them, even though it was my first day of the year fishing for them. Then i recalled the YEARS of trial and tribulation it took to land a second gar, the scowl quickly turned into a smile, and my low groans into a whistle as i made my way up the trail with nobody but the cypress to hear.

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The folks at Living Waters obviously have the same kind of affection for Brushy Creek that we have for our local Barton Creek. They’re throwing a cleanup and crawfish boil this weekend that will surely be a good chance to obtain lots of information about this fishery while cleaning it sense-less. Visit www.livingwatersflyfishing.com for more information.

Saturday, April 18th – BRUSHY CREEK CLEAN UP AND CRAWFISH BOIL

This is our annual Brushy Creek clean up. There will be representation from the Austin Fly Fishers and possibly even more local clubs! This is going to be a HUGE EVENT! Nothing is as close to our heart as our home water – Brushy Creek. We are going to clean up the creek and then come back to the shop and chow down on some crawfish! Bring work gloves, trash grabbers, and wearing jeans/long pants is recommended. We will have food (crawfish) and drinks at the shop following the clean up! See event schedule below:

EVENT SCHEDULE
8:30 A.M. – Doors Open/Round Rock Donuts present
9:00 A.M. – Clean Up Briefing
9:30 A.M. – Brushy Creek Clean Up BEGINS!
1:00 P.M. – Eat Crawfish!
2:00 P.M. – Eat MORE CRAWFISH!
6:00 P.M. – Everyone leaves…except the people who need to eat more crawfish.

Information from www.livingwatersflyfishing.com

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Under bridges on the shoulders of urban creeks. In the nooks and crannies of every spillway. On the furthest stretches of local park waterways. Always on the water later than the rest, headlamp burning bright with shadows dancing in the periphery.

Returning home sunburned, wind burned, sore and exhausted this is the soundtrack that pumps from the headphones directly into his subconscious. The beats swelling and subsiding in the skull as it all slowly comes together.

Don’t like hip-hop or feel offended by the occasional profanity? Then this one isn’t for you. If on the other hand you’re curious what’s being listened to as the midnight oil is burning and all of these words and images are all coming together, then here it is. Enjoy dF#004.

 

A two minute treat of trout for the work day from Zangs Films. Tell your boss that watching it once an hour makes you a more productive person. Kick back and enjoy!

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We (and by that i mean most of the people in America) seem to have an habitual problem of living a majority of our lives in the future, a small portion of it in the present, and very little of it in the past. For most people i come into contact with on a regular basis, the previous day, much last the previous week, seem to be shrouded in a fuzzy haze of sitcom jokes and vague problems they encountered at the grocery store “way back then.” Curious about a year ago, or even a decade?! Forget about it (no pun intended.) Maybe it’s the constant hope that our big break is around the corner, or that we’ll win the lottery soon and all of our problems will be over. I’m not sure, all i know is that this mindset exists and i interact with it in retail on a minute by minute basis.

I’ll be the first to admit that when it comes to the “details of yesterday” i’m more or less in the same boat, unless of course we are talking about fishing…and by extension: the temperature, humidity, possible chance of rain, the actual rain, water flows, sunrise, sunset, what was blooming, what flew overhead, how many cool rocks i saw, the number of people i encountered, and finally, what did or didn’t bite.

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I mention this because the one thing i can tell you about my recent past (since the start of 2015) is that every week, Thursdays (my fishing days) have consistently had the temperature either rise or fall considerably (dropping temps. bad for warm water, rising temps. bad for trout,) or had some sort of lightning storm, crazy downpour,  or near flood that has stained the water darker than a scalded pot of 7-11 coffee. While most folks might register these fluctuations in some vague manner, it’s hard not to be pinpoint (and lament) changes like this when you’re standing in the elements having these things put a massive wrench in your fishing day.

Because of all those fading memories of toilsome days, i distinctly remember the first recent day that i saw a warm water fish cruising the shallows. I remember the 50 CFS flows, the clear and cool water, the warm sun on my face, the vulture on the opposite bank, the cast, the bite, and sudden tug and run. I remember the carp was decent size, especially for being the first one of the year, but more than anything else i remember that there wasn’t a single soul in earshot. This is carp fishing at Reimers Ranch.

If you happen to live in the Austin area and are looking for some shallow / warm-water fishing without driving for hours to experience it, Reimers Ranch is the perfect place. It’s part of the Travis Parks system which means you’ll have to pay $10 to get in, but once you do you’ll likely feel as though you stumbled on a hidden park of your own.

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Reimers is a HUGE spot for rock climbers, so don’t be alarmed when you see 40 or so Vanagons parked in the same lot, with most of them sporting “Black Diamond or Hueco Tanks stickers”,  these people are your friends. Climbers likely contribute more than any other group to the ongoing funding and preservation of this park, and conveniently for us, all  of them are far more interested in rock walls than the numerous carp, bass, gar and drum that inhabit these waters. With the ranch occupying part of the Pedernales river upstream from the point that it dumps into Lake Travis you’re just as likely to hook into a 6″ sunfish as you are a two foot carp (especially after a good week of higher flows). So get out there, get your toes in the sand and try your luck. If it’s a good day you’ll never forget it. Promise.

The information on fishing Reimer’s Ranch:

  • Information on the park and fees here.
  • Spring and Fall are the best times to fish here, especially if there are any decent flows.
  • You can expect to find numerous carp and gar in the backwater pools. Various bass inhabit the deeper pools and runs.
  • For fishing excursions, we recommend the North Bank parking and trail. Less folks.
  • There is no camping here, but it can be the perfect day excursion, especially during the weekdays when almost nobody is out here.
  • Sinking lines (or tips) are ideal this time of year along with crayfish and sparse bait fish patterns.
  • Food: Carmela’s Pizzeria has some pizzas that taste AMAZING after a full day of hiking and fishing in the heat.

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The idea seemed absolutely brilliant the day before. A simple hike down to the river at Pedernales State Park with the pack raft in a backpack, inflate and float downstream, fishing all the while. Once done catching an embarrassing amount of fish, i’d deflate the boat, pack it up and hike the three miles back to the car recalling all the giant fish i caught in the deep pools previously unavailable to the wading me.

Yeah right.

Being the stubborn fool that i sometimes have the amazing capacity to be, i was so overcome by the idea of this particular adventure that i tried to flagrantly ignore the weather forecast of 40MPH gust of winds and the cold front they rode in on, somehow feeling that if i refused to acknowledge that possibility it would never materialize.

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The hike in was cake, mostly because it was all downhill and anticipation. Pumping up the raft and getting situated every bone on my body was informing me that this would be a great day, after all, the sun was out and i was about to float waters that i’d never seen a sole on in my many, many, many visits to the state park. Right about then the wind gusts picked up and scattered my hopes for the day as it lifted my boat and gear off of the shore and dropped it into the main current, leaving me to sprint like a mad man after my days adventure.

Catching up with the inflated bathtub i quickly hopped in and felt the wind carry me swiftly downstream (the only good thing about the wind that day) towards what i expected to be countless strikes and photos. Unfortunately, in addition to the hellish winds, the temperature had also dropped 20˚ essentially meaning that any idea of early spring fishing was temporarily suspended.

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The only fish i saw all day were some massive gar (four feet +) that ignored every fly i lobbed at them, as well as a few carp that were so wrapped up in doing whatever it was they were doing that they didn’t even give my flies a second glance.

Suffice to say that the “fishing” was downright horrible, luckily the adventure boosted the days ratings through the roof. I’m sure i’m not the first person to run this stretch of water (not by a long shot), but considering that i’ve never seen anyone floating it in my 50+ times on this stretch of water, i’m guessing it’s not a regular thing.

There are times when the fishing is the reason, and then there are times when the adventure is everything. Fortunately, most excursions are a combination of the two, but today adventure held all the cards, and in the end it was something i was okay with. Yes, the full on dunking at the end of the day was inconvenient, along with the three-mile “Death March” back to the car racing the sunset, in wet clothes, with two heavy, awkward packs was a trial i don’t necessarily want to repeat, but what the hell, it’s not really an adventure unless something doesn’t go like you plan.

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