Well, despite the fact that this trout season on the Guadalupe river was accented by less water and more fishers than years past, it was still a hell of a lot of fun.
This drought, the one that can’t seem to take a hint and leave long after the party’s over, continues to plague Texas with low flows, making fishing, especially (cold water) trout fishing, much more difficult than in years past. The low, slow water has meant that soft and stealthy has become the only productive way to go. Since nymph fishing is my go to method for the couple of months of winter we have, this year has been especially tough, since strike indicators hitting the surface seem to spook fish sitting in 12 inches of slow clear water, strange right?
After hearing story after story about others success on the low water with streamers, i finally tied up some Micro Buggers (size 12-14 Wooly Buggers) as well as some extremely heavy Wooly Buggers to scour the bottom for the big guys. Strangely enough, i had equal success on both streamers as well as the red nymphs I’ve tied and fished in a nymph rig configuration. An equal amount tot trout split almost evenly down the middle when it came to streamers and nymphs, regardless of location, weather and water conditions, read into that what you will.
By far the most positive experience for me this season was to get out on the water and fish with friends on a fairly regular basis. Folks like Egan, Winston, Brittan, Alvin and more were all kind enough to share spots and tactics with me, something i truly appreciate. Even on the days that i was alone i seemed to run into personel friends as well as readers of the blog on a regular basis. Mercifully all run ins tended to be “thanks” to some degree for the blog, or at least encouraging words that made the countless hours spent in front of a monitor sting far less.
My best day on the water though came just a few days ago, while attending Troutfest (a wonderful event put on by the Guadalupe River Trout Unlimited), a day when i had what i can only consider my bookend to the season on the Guadalupe.
After spending quality time talking to many local anglers and fly fishing superstars during Troutfest (Thomas, Gabe, Chris, Greg, Sean, Brandon, and many more) i ran into my good friend and past co-worker Miles (now kicking ass at Orvis in Austin). We somehow managed to chew the fat for a good two hours before things had decidedly wrapped down and he headed back to his campsite at the L and L (still my favorite spot on this stretch of the Guadalupe). Making last minute plans to meet there with just over an hour to go, i hooked up with him and his brother for a little twilight fishing, with the already sad sunlight fading just as quickly as my hopes for a fish.
As the sun sank, and teenagers on private land on the opposite bank heckled us to a ridiculous degree (knowing that any reaction would likely involve us trespassing) the line went tight and i felt the 3WT surge with an authority that i hadn’t felt in a while. The line zipped upstream before going slack as the trout turned towards me and i ran downstream as fast as my waders could carry me to avoid a tossed hook, as the whole time sophomoric sexual jokes peppered the air thanks to the immune teens. By the time i got Miles’ attention and flagged him down the river, i finally had the muscular fish in the net, a full ten minutes after i had first hooked it.
I’m not sure what the deal was this year, but pretty much every fish i caught (30 or so total) was somewhere between 16 to 20 inches, all healthy fish by any standard, but spread over 12 or so trips (one or two a trip was the average). There was something special about this most recent trout (above) though that brought the season full circle for me. It was probably the initial tug to a large part (which was intense), and partly the amazing fight it continued to put up. It was surely also the fact that a friend was there to witness it, as well as chronicle it so i could look back like i do now and think “damn, nice fish”.
With all respect to the GRTU and all their hard work though, i think i’m done with trout for this season. Time to find something new and different, or maybe even hit the old stomping grounds along one of my other favorite rivers nearby. Besides, spring is in the air, and the bass, carp and gar are sure to start stirring soon. In the meantime, a little bird mentioned that the white bass are moving out there against the foothills. Guess i’ll be heading out west in search of these crazy wanderers. In the meantime, to the GRTU, and all my cold water fishing friends…
“So Long, and Thanks for all the Trout”.
-sincerely, die Fische