Category Archive: Texas Rivers
The winter never seemed to happen, the summer slowly dragging out unto itself. Here we were, knee deep into February and already the stocked trout seemed lethargic after endless 80˚ plus days. The heat not only slowed the fish down, it also meant that waders and boots could be left behind if you wished, this was not the winter trout fishing i’d become accustomed to. Add to that strangeness the fact that the flows off of Canyon Lake were suddenly being cranked up to four times their “new norm” of 300cfs (meaning they were above 1,200cfs) and the bass waters were starting to seem like good alternatives, despite being early in the season for these warm water fish.
The San Marcos
My first recent bass adventure was when i was headed down I-35 and suddenly realized that my wading boots (much needed footwear for the Guadalupe River) were still sitting in my back yard drying out. Equipped with nothing more than a rapidly deteriorating pair of Reef sandals, i decided to seize the last few hours of daylight by pulling off into the San Marcos area to wet wade with my 7’6″ 3WT, expecting to enchant a few sunfish to my fly, and nothing more.
With flows slightly higher than normal and many folks wading, paddling, and rope swinging into the pool i was desperately trying to work, my hope to catch a sunfish seemed like a best case scenario. After a few decent sunfish, i cast tight against the bank, stripped once or twice and felt my hook set into what i was sure was a downed log. After a few roll casts and tugs on my part to set the hook free, my line suddenly darted back and forth across the pool, with whitewater being kicked up left and right. Eventually the culprit, a healthy sized largemouth, came to hand seconds before i felt sure the tiny three weight would crack under pressure.
San Marcos largemouth.
A day later i took a cue from the budding Red Buds and headed out west to the Llano river in hopes of encountering the beginning of the annual white bass run. After slowly sifting my way across the seemingly endless sand i ended up near the junction of the Llano and Lake L.B.J (The Slab area). Although I’d been coming to this spot like clockwork for the last few years, the flows were higher than i was used to, making the deep pockets much less obvious and all but eliminating the sight casting i’d become used to in years previous.
After hours of wading, casting and cursing, i ended up on a familiar sandbar casting into a four foot deep bend working the Hill Country Clouser (from Sportsmans Finest) across the current with precious nothing to show for it. Confused i tried shuffling 15 feet above the pool and casting directly into the opposite bank, allowing the fly to sink enough that it allowed the fly to flow into the pool already scraping the bottom of the river, and just like that…BAM! Fish on!
I was so shocked at how well the minor adjustment worked that i spent the next three hours trying multiple variations on the theme, but unfortunately it seemed to be a one time deal, at least this time.
A few days later i met up with my good friend Nathan in south Austin, anxious to introduce him to some very fishy waters on Barton Creek that are easily accessible but seldom fished. Both of us recently purchased some tenkara rods from Tenkara Rod Co. and eagerly tucked them into our small daypacks before heading down into the heart of Barton Creek.
Making our way past the crowds casting tentative toes into the still cool waters, and the numerous dogs out walking their owners, we made our way to the special spot that i wanted to show Nathan. I was nervous, knowing it was still early for these waters, but still i hoped that we could somehow coax a fish or two out of the shadows just so my friend could see what these waters were capable of.
After a few casts into the shadows of a steep bank were met with little to no fanfare, a 2.5 pound bass (see title photo) visibly lunged out of the shadows, engulfed the wooly bugger and put such a bend in the Tenkara rod that i was convinced the rod tip was going to snap, although a passerby would be hard pressed to notice my concern since i was laughing maniacally. Needless to say, Nate now understands why i was hyping this spot up as much as i was, and i’m thankful to have a spot not only live up to, but exceed, the hype i built up around it.
Now is the time! The waters are coming alive and the fishing for bass will only get better over the next month, so do what you must, but get out there now and enjoy some of the best bass fishing of the year (on the flowing waters) before the heat sets in. They’re out there, and you should be too!
It wasn’t even midnight on my last day of work at Whole Earth Provision Co., the ink still wet on the day when the text from Winston came late in the evening,
“Want to fish tomorrow on the LCR?”
Winston is one of the most unique people i know, harnessing both a fiery intensity and endless curiosity to everything, seemingly all the time. Being a somewhat more laid back introvert its stimulating just to be in his presence where you can practically hear the hum radiating around him.
When he’s not saving lives as a paramedic north of Austin, he swaps the ambulance for a jet boat and buzzes clients up and down the Lower Colorado via All Water Guides here in Austin. Working along side some of the most knowledgeable guides on the water he’s got this water dialed.
Suffice to say, if you get a text from a friend like this on the first day of your month long vacation, asking if you want to sled up and down the Colorado, you’ll want to say “Yes.”
photo by Winston Cundiff
The only other time i’ve experienced a jet boat was once on the Deschutes while fishing for steelhead with my family, where we flew up some up amazing class three rapids, still one of the most thrilling things i’ve ever done. Here on the Colorado though i constantly found myself shaking my head (and bracing my feet) as we jetted up stretches of shallow waters that were barely two inches deep while traveling at warp speed. Adrenaline hit for sure.
Early in the day we ended up at a weir and cut the engine in order to start floating casually downstream while waiting for the other All Water Guides to show up with their Yeti ambassadors aboard. It didn’t take long to land a handsome white bass and just a few moments later a nice largemouth which immediately set our expectations much to high, as we’d find out later.
Hours of this perspective felt unreal.
To cut to the chase, the rest of the day was fruitless, with hundreds (?) of casts going unnoticed, or at the very least being ignored. Eventually we switched roles and i found myself on the sticks (oars for those not in the know) and constantly being coached on how to position the boat, work the current, and set the boat up moves ahead as though playing a chess game. In all honesty, being given the chance to row a boat that many in the scene refer to “The Most Bitching Boat in Austin” was an honor of far greater reward than any fat ass bass could provide.
Eventually the Yeti crew arrived with David Mangum and his crew in tow, but unfortunately, as mentioned, things had long since shut down. I wish the day had been more amazing, with 5 pound bass constantly being netted for our visiting ambasadors, but that wasn’t the case. Hopefully they each found something amazing about the experience to take home with them despite the difficult day. For me i just enjoyed catching up with a good friend, learning a new skill, and taking in the glory of the day.
Just one day into my time off and here i was lying across the bow of the boat, watching the ospreys circling high in the sky, soaking in the sun and humming a tune we all know…
Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream…
David Mangum casting like a pro at my camera!
Good news for the family angler or anyone looking for a change of pace! As mentioned in their press release below, Guadalupe River State Park has stocked the park with trout for the first time ever! It’s a little confusing since TPWD has stocked the Guadalupe River below Canyon Lake (along with the GRTU) for years, but this stretch is in the Guadalupe River State Park proper, which is quite a few miles upstream from Canyon Lake. Sure the trout might be smaller than their friends further downstream, but the setting alone more than makes up for it. Check out the press release below from the Guadalupe River State Park Facebook page.
Attention Everyone! For the first time in the Park’s history, the river in the Park will be stocked with Rainbow Trout! Approximately 1,250 trout will be stocked and ready to be fished this Saturday, February 4th.
We will be at the river with a limited number of rods and reels for loan beginning at 8:30 a.m. Saturday morning — you need to bring the bait which can range from trout dough (get the kind that smells) and worms to corn. Small spinners can also work. If you bring your own tackle, make sure the hooks and weights are lightweight.
Please note that when fishing in the park, no fishing licenses or stamps are required. The daily bag limit is five trout.
For more information on trout fishing in Texas, either click on the link below or copy and paste it to the search bar on your browser:
Pulling into the megalopolis that is Buccee’s i stopped the car, and entered the massive Temple of Convenience, making a B-line to the piping hot croissant sandwich waiting specifically for me. As i took it in my hand and brought it intimately close to my nose to savor its smell, it seemed to let out a small sigh of relief through its reflective foil coat as though it were free to be chosen, much like a mutt in a kennel.
Between bites and making my way back to the car, i glanced at my newly acquired “Rod Vault” perched on top of the car, keeping rods and reels locked safely away from prying eyes and folks that might otherwise be inclined to break some glass to relieve me of my “tools of the trade.” It took less than half a bite for me to suddenly feel like i was hit in the gut as i realized that the same security that kept wayward youth from accessing my rods also kept me from accessing them now as well…the key you see, was back in my pants pocket at home.
In the past this is the sort of situation that would have sent me into a tailspin of frustration and anxiety, but in light of all the craziness and anger facing the world at large i’ve decided to try (hard as it may be for me) to try and put a little more stock in things just “kind of working out.” The hard part of this is realizing that you will never be totally in control no matter how hard you plan things. It also means opening yourself up to others to ask for help and being willing to take that help graciously and return it with an equal heart.
Pulling up in front of Gruene Outfitters, i approached the door with all the positive thoughts i could cram in my head. Immediately i spotted my friend Jacob and explained my situation, nervous with equal parts embarrassment at forgetting my key as asking for a loaner reel for a few hours.
Being the Southern Gentleman, and all around cool cat that he is, he didn’t even hesitate before digging around the shop to find a lined reel used for test casts and encouraging me to take it and return it whenever i could, more concerned about me catching fish than him having the reel in his hand. Kindness: Score 1
Pulling up to the L and L half an hour later i slowed at the entrance before turning off the ignition, grabbing my wallet and grabbing a $10 bill (the day use fee for the RV park). Walking in to the general store it was the same kind woman that has run the desk for at least the last eight years that i’ve been fishing here.
“You haven’t got your annual pass yet?” she asked.
“No, it’s still in the mail, but I’d love to pay to fish for the day.” i replied.
“Don’t worry about it darling, I know you, go on in.” she said warmly.
Kindness: Score 1
Fishing the waters that day, i landed trout after trout on flies that i had feverishly tied the night before, in an effort to supply the foam slots in my box with creations that they longed to cradle. There seemed to be a limitless end of takes, tussles and pink cheeked warriors that were rallied to the net that day mostly by hot pink worms.
Plodding back up to the car with many pounds of extra water inside my waders (i really must find that hole) i plopped down on the tailgate, exhausted and watched the sun set over the cypress, creating a warm pink glow across the sky that strangely oddly seemed to be the same color found on the trouts’ cheeks.
It was a day of cold weather, gray skies, and fog that seemed to cast a dreamy sort of state on everything in sight. Still, there was a warm feeling that pervaded every action and exchange, whether with locals, or with fish. It was as though the entire day had been processed through some a warm. pink filter. Looking it up later, i wasn’t surprised at all to find that pink is the color of compassion, nurturing and love. Pretty much sums up the day.
P.S. They always say “It pays to have friends in high places.” and that obviously is important to a lot of people (like recently elected politicians, and other various cogs and stooges) but i’m thankful as hell to just know GOOD people in GOOD places.