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Category Archive:   Texas Rivers


As any fan of this blog will know, gar are hands down one of my favorite fish to catch on a fly. So imagine my delight to see that Texas Park and Wildlife is now treating at least one of the gar (the Alligator Gar) like an actual respectable gamefish. To see these prehistoric creatures suddenly go from an unwelcome, unloved trash fish, discarded on riverbanks to die a slow death to a species venerated as a “game fish” is mind boggling, but also deeply satisfying for not only me, but also the many others that know the exhilaration of catching any gar on a fly. Fisherman, and especially fly fisherman, constantly seem to look down on “trash fish” like gar, carp, freshwater drum, etc., but if you’ve ever hooked into one you’ll know that gar and carp are capable of bending an 8WT into two and putting up a fight that resembles saltwater fishing much more than your typical freshwater fishing.

TPWD has set up a special site for the alligator gar at https://tpwd.texas.gov/fishboat/fish/management/alligator-gar/index.phtml and they are looking for folks like you and I to try and shape the future of gar fishing in Texas by taking a survey to see where they should be devoting their resources. If you are interested in helping fly fishing in Texas progress please take a moment to check out this website.

P.S. “Yes” these are long-nose gar photos. I have yet to catch an alligator gar, but don’t worry, that’s my summer’s goal.

Fly fishing is not magic. Like many things in life it can be magical, but it in and of itself is not magic, or at least that’s been my mindset for the last few months as I’ve suffered through some sort of “big fish ” deficiency while everyone around me has seemingly effortlessly racked up big fish after big fish.

Then I hooked into the first gar or the season, and as the water around it exploded with unruly frustration, the line went tight and the rod bowed slowly as remembering how to play a fish far outside of it’s capacity, I recalled that fishing IS magic.

Five days later (and still high from the first gar) I was at Pedernales State Park with my good friend Nate when we spotted a plethora of carp feeding aggressively in pool after pool. We spent a lot of time hiking but eventually turned our attention  to the waters inhabitants where we proceeded to collect a vast array of sunfish and Guadalupe Bass. Eventually I moved over to a black wooly bugger and started casting to the endless array of common carp, feeding and muddying the waters. After having my heart broken by having a Jurassic Park three foot carp pounce on my fly only to somehow miss the hook-set, I eventually snuck up on the beauty below, watching in the skinny water as it went for it and ended up running me out to my backing three times before eventually working it in to my net.

Landing that carp and lifting it from the net into my hands I felt like a magician suddenly pulling a rabbit out where before there had been nothing. It felt like absolutely pure magic, the way that fly-fishing should feel.

I love Texas. I also love wandering.

Unfortunately less than 2% of Texas is public land, which makes wandering and exploring almost as difficult as trying to explore a distant planet. As a reminder to those that venture to far to far, barbwire is an ever-present deterrent around here. There are also a wealth of signs that practically beat one over the head with suggestions, warnings or out right threats that might or might not be enforced. All of which is to say, you never, ever know in Texas. You are equally likely to be greeted by a hand squeezed lemonade as you are a salt rock shot in the ass.

Unless you’re connected to wealth some of the best spots to meander in Texas are the state parks, which is exactly why I found myself at one of my favorite spots, the South Llano State Park.  I was here alone, in search of a couple of days of relative solitude in an effort to re-charge my batteries and squeeze in some fishing time that wasn’t book ended on either end by drives to and from the water. I’ve camped / fished here for years and have always found the park to be one of the more mellow parks, likely because of its rather limited amount of campgrounds as well as its distance from any major cities (it’s 3 hours from Austin).

Upon arriving  I started wade fishing the stretch that any person visiting the state park would decide was the obvious route. I ventured from the low water crossing (most upstream access at the park) all the way down towards the “Tube Exit” sign without landing a single fish. We’re talking hundreds of yards, all with no observable foot traffic ahead of me, multiple flies tried and not a single bite. However, immediately after passing the aforementioned sign I found myself hooked into the beautiful bass above that instantly put the 3WT through its paces and made the entire evening worth it.

The next morning I was on the water early, sliding the paddle board into the river at the second crossing, visions of an epic day of thigh length bass and endless pools of gullible, gaping mouths ready to inhale anything I through their way. The downstream wind quickly assaulted and aggravated, turning a leisurely upstream paddle into some sort of death march that if paused, even for a second,  would send me downstream faster than the current could carry me. The day was not what I was hoping for, the one or two fish landed were a small reward for hour upon hour of relentless paddling against a headwind.

Still, at least I was experiencing the illusion of wandering even if it was hemmed in by a limestone cliff to my left and a two lane highway a few yards over my right shoulder. I have to say though, if I’m going to spend my time constrained to a space of flowing water between two opposing banks of private property, Texas is where I want to do it. Warning signs be damned.

Hello friend. It’s been a while, right?

Not only has my current job consumed all my extracuricular energy (everyone should be so lucky to have their “job” be something they love to pour all their heart, soul, and time into) but the “trout season” down here on the Guadalupe has been nothing short of a punch in the gut for me, meaning many days of skunks while everyone around me cleans up like janitors. As both my job, and the trout lie in a southernly direction from Austin, I’ve spent countless hours on I-35 listening to an endless streams of podcasts while trying my best to no become some sort of unwilling collateral damage in one of the many “Fast and Furious” showdowns that I’m party to at least twice a day.

All of which is to say that when I pointed the nose of my motorized chariot west for the first time in a LONG time there was a exaltation of the spirit that had been missing for many months. The giddiness arose from the simple notion that I would be seeing a good friend I’d not seen in months, my confidant, my shrink and the provider of numerous days of adventure that fill the recesses and folds of my psyche. I refer, of course to the holiest of holies, the Pedernales River.

As any angler worth his salted cod knows, between trout and bass seasons around here there is a special time known as “The White Bass Run”. It doesn’t get the airplay that the previously mentioned seasons do, it’s more of the “second chair” in the orchestra, or the EP release of your favorite band that is just about ready to drop their LP anyday now! Suffice to say, it doesn’t get the love it deserves as most folks are pining for trout or yearning for the largemouth behemoths that lurk just around the chronological corner of time.

The odds weren’t in my favor, the internet being largely devoid of any recent reports of runs other than the Nueces, and the word at Sportsmans Finest (where I was picking up some of the obligatory Hill Country Clousers) sounding at best, pretty damn bleak. Still, just the fact that I might be able to get skunked on some different waters sounded like a wonderful change of pace.

Pulling into the north parking of Reimers Ranch I was beside myself to see that there wasn’t a single soul in the area. I hurriedly made my way down the ancient steps and hustled off down to the banks of the river trying to keep my expectations in check. Sitting there rigging the sinking tip and fuddling with knots I struggled to recall, I was suddenly shocked when the waters just a few feet away from me erupted in a violent display of baitfish being hammered by something strong, hungry, and ferocious…white bass.

Working the waters from the banks, the fish slowly came to hand, approximately one fish for every four casts. Sometimes it was an eruption of fury that was quickly cast into where an aggressive bass might be summoned, but more often than not it was just working though pools of activity and getting the “random” hook up that would bend the 3WT towards the muddy flats and have me practically choking in reverential laughter at the sheer amount of joy that this day was providing. After an hour or so of watching the bass slash the surface just beyond my reach I set aside my flip flops and worked my way barefoot through the mud and out to the main channel, easily sinking to my knees in spots, but still coming closer and closer to the rustling waters previously out of reach.

In short, shit was epic. Forty fish easy.

After so many months of some strange trout curse that seemed to suck the joy out of the air around me it was an immensely amazing display of the potential that a day could possibly proffer. I suggest you head there soon to partake of this wonderful, temporal, diversion which as for now is still devoid of human distraction.