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Category Archive:   Texas Freshwater Fish


HOLY CRAP! It’s a little hard to fathom, but die Fische made it onto what is arguably the most popular fly fishing blog on the planet, the quirky and informative Modly Chum.

Each month they run a contest called Slab of the Month where readers vote on the most impressive catch submitted, one of which happens to be our Blanco gar. At the end of June, once all the submissions are compiled, it looks like there might be the opportunity for you to vote for this awesome specimen. If you haven’t already, be sure to “like” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter to be notified when you can submit your vote!

Maybe you just like our blog, or maybe you’re full of Texas pride and would love to see someone from the Hill Country Posse represent our local waters? Either way, follow us, listen, and when the time comes be sure to show your love!

Moldy Chum!? Still can’t believe it, thanks for all your support folks!

A special shout out to James at Mysterious Waters for “netting” the gar and shooting the photo.

Seriously? Over the last month or so, i’ve attempted to head out to Pedernales State Park three or four times for what should be a mellow day of catching Drum, Carp and at the very least a bass or two. Somehow though, each time i’ve pulled  into the park i have managed to somehow summon the powers of rain and the many mixed blessings that it brings. I’m not talking light sprinklings either, we’re talking enough rain to instantly turn the water from off color clarity to a tea stained mess, in minutes flat.

Today was more of the same with the crazy downpour starting just as i entered the park. By the time i made it down to the water i was able to watch it go from mostly clear to so foggy that i simply couldn’t catch anything, a little bit discouraging.

After wasting my time and energy far downstream, i decided to count my losses and head for the main pool below the falls. With bass, carp, and everything but Gar holing up in the depths, it became obvious that the Gar Flies i had in my flybox were going to come in handy whether or not they (or i) liked it. Tying one on i waited for the tell-tale sign (a snapping, oxygen engulfing jaw) and sent the rope fly lurching forward.

It was nice to catch something that fought like hell, but i’m starting to wonder, is this destined to be my fate? Elusive Gar engulfing everything i toss their way? Seven years of nothingness, and suddenly i can’t seem to NOT catch Gar…what a strange predicament. Almost as strange as the grey stained day itself…

How do you cram an entire day that felt like a walking dream into a few paragraphs cranked out in the twenty minutes you have left before your old man narcolepsy kicks in and you drift off to that place where it all began? You type like hell, fast and furious until your fingers bleed, and the words fill empty screen with imagery to fulfill the senses…but i digress.

The dream began with an encounter and free tacos. The encounter wasn’t random, but the free tacos most definitely were. The plan had been hatched by James over at Mysterious Water years ago, so long ago in fact, that i was going through what i would gently call an “antisocial” period. The idea thrown out way back then was to meet and fish a private stretch of water along the Blanco. Seems simple enough, but because i was so wrapped up in my ego and my issues at the time, i just couldn’t seem to do my part to make it happen. Now, with James visiting from his new home in Washington, the offer was once extended again, and being a much more functional individual now, i accepted with much eagerness and anticipation.

Sitting in the awesome Milagro’s Hill Country Tex-Mex, information was obtained and the day hashed out. James, his long time pal David and i, were getting some tips form the restaurant owner, and all around nice guy, Scott when three plates of free taco dinners showed up “randomly”. Supposedly they were mis-orders, but since James had been a long time employee of the establishment, it seems much more likely that the “accidental” duplicate dishes were more of an intentional gift, either way, free food (and especially tacos) are a great way to start the day.

An hour later the three of us were working our way into a pool the size of a football field, each one of us in a different craft, a kayak (James), a kick-boat (David), and my paddle board (me), hoping that diversity would increase our chances in this deep, cool, flowing water that felt so strange and new (yet oddly familiar). After a good 45 minutes of working the vegetation with my 3WT and some poppers that would have felt more at home on a 7WT, i cast, stripped, and slowly got distracted by my surroundings. By the time my gaze had wandered off to the horizon i heard the familiar “SLORP” sound and turned around just in time to see an easily 24″ Largemouth take my popper down with it like a sinking ship. As it raced to the inner deepness of the pool i called out to the others and had them turn around just in time to see…nothing. The bass (and i) snapped the 3X leader like thread as i worked the line far harder than it wanted to work.

I started to swear out loud, but despair and regret quickly set in causing my vulgar outburst to sound more like a gentle plea for mercy, “FFFFUUUUuuuuuuu….”

The wind was put back in my sails a little later by a decent size bass (Largemouth?) that put up a hell of a fight and took away some of the sting left by it’s much larger sibling. Reenergized, i started making my way downstream towards some breathtaking falls, and the second of two pools we’d hit that day. Enchanted by the amazing beauty that enveloped me, i started feeling guilty for having it all to myself (and my comrades), and thinking how it was to bad it wasn’t a public park. Then it hit me, that was exactly the reason that it WAS so beautiful, i actually saw only ONE piece of trash the whole way ( a beer can that i packed out). It seemed you could have one or the other, public/trash or private/pristine (just look at Barton Creek), and at least for this day i felt privileged to see the other side of the coin.

 

All right. Times short, my fingers are swelling and the Sandman is knocking at the door, so here we go. Fast forward a few magical hours.

Spotting a bunch of Gar an hour before packing out, i off handedly asked if either James or David had ever caught a Gar. Upon hearing that they hadn’t i thought it would be kind of novel to catch one and show them after my recent luck with them. A few minutes later i had landed a smaller specimen (24 inches) and had them paddle over to check it out. They both agreed that it was kind of “neat” and then simultaneously went back to fishing for bass. As i let the gar go i stood up on the board and saw a HUGE Longnose drift by in the shadows, at that moment i felt that i had to show them something grand. Glancing at my 7’6″ 3WT and the 8LB. leader it sported, i suddenly felt that uneasy queasiness i feel when i know i’m going to do something that is both exciting and stupid at the same time.

Moments later i stripped my fly in front of the gar, shaking uncontrollably with anticipation, he glanced, swung his head and attacked as i almost puked with excitement (seriously). The monster was caught and he was not happy. He bolted like a bat out of hell dragging me, my 3WT and the paddle board across the waters surface. Suddenly i felt it hit me like a ton of bricks, i was tied into a whole lot of crazy. The battle that followed was epic to put it mildly. One armed paddling in an effort to get on solid ground while fighting the fish, stepping off the board into a gaping hole and suddenly finding myself swimming for shore with one arm tethered to a prehistoric beast, slipping and slamming various body parts against snot slick boulders.

With David and James slightly mesmerized by the one man show (i don’t blame them, it was quite a spectacle), i eventually mentioned that there was no way i could land this fish by myself (something i’ve never had the privilege of saying before). Suddenly James, high on adrenaline, jumped in the water and gripped the thrashing fish by the jaw and drug it onto the slick rock that made for a crappy piece of terra-firma. Sitting there with 40 plus inches of scary fish between us, we just sort of laughed, a kind of high nervous laugh and soaked it all in.

There’s a lot more to the story, but it’s time for bed. If i didn’t have bruises i’d probably wonder if it even happened, the day was just to amazing, to perfect. The scenery was heavenly, the camaraderie was stellar and the fishing was obviously out of this world. If i didn’t have the photos or the battle scars, i would say it was all a dream…one i’d like to have every night for the rest of my life.

Tying the gar flies for the days excursion, i felt an uneasy confidence build with every wrap of the thread, at the time it felt almost cosmically promised that i would land a Gar before the day was through. Suddenly though, as i was locking the dumbbell eyes down to the shank and whip finishing the fly, i felt utter despair as i realized i had inadvertently left the Fly Head Cement slightly ajar which meant i now had a jar of cement in a semi-solid state. Crap.

Being a resourceful cat, i quickly put two and two together and realized that it was very likely that my wife, a beautiful girly girl (in the best sense) might have some Sally’s Hard as Nails laying around in her makeup cabinet (BINGO, not one bottle, but two!). While the “cement” was drying on the Gar flies  i packed the Element, intent on heading out to what i hoped would be some clear water on the Pedernales so i could sight cast to some Carp and Gar.

 

 

By the time i had the car loaded some unannounced rain set in and i found myself wondering why the little rain we’ve gotten lately seems to consistently poke it’s head out on my days off. Oh well, after last year any rain is welcome, even if it temporarily ruins my plans. Knowing that this brief rain would stain the Pedernales i headed out in hopes of landing ANYTHING, after all, i had the day off, the flies were done, and NOBODY had any expectations of me for at least a few hours, with freedom like that,stained water could not stop me.

 

What followed was a lot of gawking at the recent blooms brought on by the recent rains and the colors that the water had unleashed on the senses. Staring at the display of life, a strange thought suddenly struck me, it was good it didn’t rain like this all the time, there’d be no end to the people suddenly resettling here in the Hill Country.

Suddenly, mid-thought, the experience of simply being out on the water was punctuated by a tug on my line that reeled me back to the original reason for my visit. As my nylon rope fly disappeared into a dark shadow, the line went taught and i found myself working a 20″ Spotted Gar onto the shore.

It wasn’t big enough for the THC contest, and in retrospect it wasn’t even the right species, but what the hell, it was my third Gar this year, and obviously i was slowly figuring out how to fish for these creatures.

They’re strange, ancient, and eerily beautiful, as are the flowers that line the banks they call home. The rain might have been an inconvenience today, but what the hell, it was better than the alternative. Plus, it caused the flowers to feel brash, and kept the Gar from spotting my silhouette on the bank, that alone is reason enough to sing it’s praises.

Thank you rain, thank you Gar, and thank you flowers for spitting some color on the day.