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.
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.
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.
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.
A lot of things in fishing (just like life) are pretty concrete. If it’s cold, the trout will be biting on the Guadalupe, and if it’s warm the gar will be lurking just below the surface and the carp will be tilling the shallows with their Hoover mouths. This predictability is remarkedly comforting, mostly because it enables the angler to make educated guesses and feel good about himself (of herself) when a fly is cast at the appropriate time and the expected fish is brought to hand.
However, in between are the moments of uncertainty, those portals of chance that seem to open and close based on the slightest change in temperature or the most diminutive variation in water flows. It’s within these ever changing windows of opportunity that the white bass seem to move up and down the current, calling every shot on a minute by minute basis.
If you’ve never fished for white bass, the most basic thing you need to know is that when a myriad of conditions are right, they move from deep water into feeder creeks and rivers in schools. The upside of this means that if you find one, you’ll probably find many, many more in that same spot. The obvious flip-side is that if you didn’t find one, you probably won’t find more. Because of this, half the battle with white bass is just knowing where they are, or at the very least, where they should be.
The unfortunate truth is that even if we were having normal water flows around here the best spots to find these bruisers would be guarded like they were national secrets. Add on top of that the fact that we’re currently in the worst drought on record and you’ll understand why the few spots that white bass are moving through are considered taboo to even talk about.
Over the last week i’ve had opportunities to check out a few spots and have had the opportunity to see that there are more opportunities to catch these fish than people might realize. While some of these spots are so small and overcrowded that i’m keeping my lips sealed to honor the folks that have put int heir time on them, there is one that has consistently had so few anglers and so many fish that i feel safe spilling the beans. Turkey Bend is an LCRA park that due to low flows happens to be the spot where Lake Travis and the Colorado river meet has had a phenomenal amount of white bass moving through it in the last few weeks. The most exciting aspect of this particular spot is that due to low flows and shallow water, schools of white bass are easily spotted when the ambush prey close to the surface and form some fast moving wakes that look more like saltwater activity than freshwater. If you’ve never tossed a streamer ahead of a quickly darting v-shaped wake only to suddenly feel your fly get slammed by two pounds of fury, you’re in for a treat.
Other than that all i can do is give you some information and let you figure it out:
- White bass males move from reservoirs (Travis, Buchanan, L.B.J., Granger, etc.) into shallow tributaries to get their game plan together.
- The females (larger than the males) follow the males a couple of weeks later.
- The only fly you need is a Hill Country Clouser (above) in chartreuse, red or grey.
- White bass love to school up in deeper holes of the river. Sinking lines are a must.
- Look for the deeper “guts” in the river and fish those.
- If you see surface activity, cast into it, especially if you are in bigger, more off color water.
If you need more information stop in one of our friendly local fly shops (Living Waters, Sportsman’s Finest, Orvis) and let them know your obsessed with the thought of double digit days and they can get you in the right gear and pointed in the right direction.
One final note, if you’re going to do it, do it now! There’s probably only one week, maybe two, of this left before they all head back to the deeper water of the reservoirs. Good luck!
Alright, this is not an adventure yet, but in 24 hours it will have been one. For years i’ve tried in earnest to fish large pools of Pedernales State Park down from the falls for the massive fish located there, but have always been limited to the tree lined banks that produced little, if anything at all while massive splashes teased from opposite banks. The hike in is far to miserable for kayaks…but wait…i seem to recall buying a pack raft years ago for a specific trip in Colorado. That raft has been rediscovered, is now patched and ready to go in the bottom of my pack to ferry me down the deep waters of Pedernales State Park tomorrow, hopefully for many fish (gar, carp and bass) before pulling out at the youth camp, deflating the vessel and hiking back the two and a half miles to basecamp (the Element). Wish me luck, and wave from the shore if you happen to be there (which you should.)
Running a blog takes an inordinate amount of time and energy, there is no doubt. So time-consuming in fact is it that fly fishing blogs, once as abundant as tricos, have quickly fallen like a spent hatch, victims of time, responsibility and sometimes simple exhaustion. After all, there’s not a lot of reasons to spend hours almost every night creating graphics, editing photos, and pouring over carefully chosen words other than the simple passion to create something (hopefully) new and unique.
Every once in a while though there is something that re-stokes the coals, causes a smile, and gives you the renewed energy to keep on going. Today that was a slightly thick, nondescript envelope all the way from France that was soaked in interesting, hand scrawled text. Inside was a stack of awesome stickers from the creative folks at www.rivière.com. I highly recommend checking out their site and if (like me) you don’t speak french, use Google translate to convert the site in to words you’ll understand (like this).
Obviously passion transcends cultures, borders and language, and for that i’m eternally grateful.
Merci amis! Très cool!
The boys from Geobass are back for season two of epic bass fishing around the globe with the help of Costa. Episode one finds them armed with the culminated knowledge of their previous seasons exploits and heading into the amazon for peacock bass (though in classic Motiv style they still have stuff go wrong almost immediately). Check it out, feel the rush of new adventure, and get out there and make it happen for you, even if it’s just new local waters.
Note: The first 4 minutes and 20 seconds are a recap of season one, with the new season starting at 4:21. Strange, right?
It’s easy as one, two, three.
- Go to our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/diefische.
- Look for the contest post at the top of the page.
- Leave a comment on where you wish you could travel and take this duffel
The small print: One random winner will be selected from all of the comments on the contest post on our Facebook. To enter you only have to leave a comment, but if you decide to share the post that is awesome and we thank you! Contest entries accepted from 03/21 until 03/29, winner will be announced 03/30! The prize is a North Face medium duffel in red.