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The anticipation had been building for days. The shop had been receiving shipment after shipment of the flies that my co-workers and i had ordered, large poppers and meaty streamers that practically begged to be sacrificed on the Lower Colorado River’s banks. On top of that, the demo 6 WT rod from Douglas Outdoors arrived just before leaving work the day before. Fishing needed to happen.

It was like every star was aligning to make my day off spent on the Colorado River below Austin some sort of transcendent life experience. Then i saw the water, six inches of visibility, stained like a politicians past and rising quickly, bringing in fresh layers of trash and detritus that caused me to hang my head in disappointed sorrow.

Still, it was my day off, already noonish and an annoyingly long drive to any water that might provide the same possibility that the Lower Colorado had to offer. One way or another this was going to work.

Putting in at Big Webberville park i immediately headed downstream where i quickly found a few pools that were literally bubbling with gar action, imagine a pod of trout during the height if a hatch and you’ll totally have it. Despite the endless “CLACKS” (the sound that i imagine the long nose gar make when breathing at the surface) they were skittish as could be, disappearing into the murkiness immediately after drawing a fresh breath. After an inordinate amount of mis-hooks i finally brought one to the board, the first this year, and felt the same rush i felt years ago when i landed my first one.

Paddling back to the ramp at sunset i observed hundreds of Hexagenia limbata suddenly emanating from the water, with a few being choked down by bass that eluded anything i had to offer.

Pulling into the ramp i floated under a low hanging limb that at one moment seemed barren and the next was flush with hundreds of huge Mayfly’s that brushed against me like small bats high on Red Bull or cocaine (i assume there’s a difference?). I’ve always heard the expression “Inhaling mayflies due to the hatch.” but had never had experienced it until now as they flew up my nose and pants and down my shirt.

Classic Lower Colorado. Despite the horrible fishing conditions it was still a phenomenal day.

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If you’ve been wanting to get yourself (or possibly a friend or significant other) into fly fishing, here is your chance. The fine folks at Living Waters are putting on their legendary class covering casting, fly selection, local waters and even basic fly tying this Saturday. Visit www.livingwatersflyfishing.com for more information!

Saturday May 27th – Intro to Fly Fishing at Living Waters

FREE OF CHARGE AND NO REGISTRATION REQUIRED – Bring a notebook/pen!

Event Schedule:

9:00 A.M. – Doors Open/Round Rock Donuts/Coffee

9:30 A.M. — Introduction to Fly Casting
(Traditional and Tenkara)
We’ll be kicking things off with a casting class catered towards beginners. Join us for a clinic on the basic principles of fly casting. Casting traditional and tenkara fly rods will be demonstrated and discussed, with plenty of interactive learning opportunities!

11:00 A.M. — Basic Rigging for the Hill Country
(Traditional and Tenkara)
This presentation will explain the how’s and why’s behind rod, reel, and line selection for fly fishing our local waters. We’ll also discuss the advantages and disadvantages of different fly line tapers, and show you the knots you need to get rigged up and ready to fish!

2:00 P.M. — Local Hot Spots – Llano River, San Gabriel River, Brushy Creek, and more!
Come find out where, how, and when to fish our local fishing hot spots. We will be giving a presentation on multiple hill country rivers and will discuss fishing techniques and flies according to each river. After this presentation you can consider yourself to be armed and dangerous from a local fly fishing standpoint! If you’re new to the area, this is a presentation you won’t want to miss!

4:00 P.M. — Fly Tying for Beginners
This class is designed to walk people through the essential basics of fly tying. We will walk each attendee through tying a couple basic fly patterns that fish well on our local water, as well as discussing the uses of the many fly tying tools out there! This is a great class for beginners as well that those who want to brush up on their fly tying and tool knowledge. If you already have a vise and tools, feel free to bring them! We do have a limited amount of loaner vises and tools as well.

6:00 P.M. – Doors Close

 

Always stellar. Always tempting. vimeo.com/hooke

Since starting my new job in Gruene, TX. i’ve desperately been trying to find spots on the way home that could not only be accessed quickly, but possibly even hold fish that might satiate my desire to catch something more than small and eager sunfish.

Having hit up the Blanco river, and specifically Five Mile Dam Park numerous times over the last few weeks with little to no success wading or kayaking i was starting to wonder whether maybe i might be chasing windmills? It didn’t seem entirely implausible (as a customer mentioned in conversation) that the flood of 2015 could have stripped the river of not just plant cover, but possibly a majority of the fish as well.

 

Dragging the Versa board down to the water, navigating the throngs of folks camped out on the flood ravaged boat launch, it seemed to me that even if fish did survive the flood they probably wouldn’t have stuck around here with this carnival atmosphere going on in their own backyard. Regardless, i was going to give it one more chance before writing off the park and seeking out other possibilities along the I-35 corridor.

Weaving through the tubers and floaties, i paddled about twenty yards up from even the most adventurous swimmer, tied on a green splattered popper loaded the rod with a false cast and landed the popper directly between two large submerged boulders. So mesmerized was i by the sudden splash and instant disappearance of my fly i almost forgot to set the hook into the bass (above) that just seconds ago i was convinced wasn’t there.

Within the next 30 minutes i managed to land 20 plus sunfish of various type and size. With every strike it felt like the fish were announcing that not only were they present, they were SURVIVORS and had the fight and will power to prove it!

Enjoying the activity i eventually tied on a much larger deer hair popper in an effort to focus on the bass that were surely snaking up and down the steep, muddy and foliaged banks. With nips and nibbles from the sunfish causing the fly to dip and resurface when they realized their appetite outsized their mouths it was a constant game of waiting for just the right take.

Eventually the fly disappeared without immediately re-surfacing which meant a quick strip, a dipping rod and eventually a good size long ear sunfish that was big enough to wrap its jaws around a bass fly that theoretically was out of its league. Not to be out done, shortly after a fly change the bass were back to make sure that i knew who really owned these waters.

This culminated in the bass (below) that took a popper, swam down and out and immediately pulled the tip of my 4WT into the water and started guiding both my board and i around as though it were leading us around on some strange waltz that only it could hear the music to.  Being an easy three pounds, the fish had me not only anticipating my next return, but also knowing that the relationship between me and these waters would be a lasting one.

Paddling upstream, content in the fishing, i found spots of the Blanco that not only felt far removed from I-35, and the crowds downstream, but also from life in general. One only paddle far enough and the traffic noise, housing tracts and political pandemonium seem to be drowned out by the calming noise of water stubbornly forcing its way around, beneath and over rocks, and the sweet, sweet sound of survivors slurping flies off the surface with the confidence of those that have seen some shit and aren’t afraid to let you know that they never disappeared.