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Category Archive:   Texas Rivers


In relation to the population of Texas, there are very few folks out there that are committed to not only fishing, but fishing in a manner that allows future generations (many times their own) to enjoy these waters decades down the road. Because of the blog I’ve been fortunate enough to have met many people over the years that align with my personal belief that limited resources mean that selfishness should take a back seat to personal satisfaction and greed, at least a majority of the time. In a nutshell, catch and release will enable you to bring others back to experience the same awesomeness you have.

One of the first people I ever met via the blog that cared as much about not just the fishing, but also the fisheries is Winston Cundiff. Back in the day he was the only person that showed up at Barton Creek, in the midst of the now legendary Texas drought, bucket in hand to help me transfer sunfish, bass, and catfish from ankle deep pools into the deeper pools below the falls after an alarmed call to arms on the blog.

In the interim years he’s gone on to become not only a passionate angler, but also an official member of All Water Guides which is one of the premium guide services in the Austin area.

Thanks to my new job (buying at Gruene Ouftfitters) and one of our key dealers, Patagonia I was fortunate enough to hook up with him on a recent float trip for Texas fly-fishing Patagonia dealers that once again found me hooking with him on his jet boat, zipping up and down the lower Colorado River in search of bass, and much to his chagrin, gar to satiate my desire for catching a prehistoric dinosaur on the fly.

The water was stained for sure, but the flows were just enough to enable us to barely make it up some incredibly shallow (mere inches deep) riffles. In all actuality the conditions made for what should have been a skunk of a day, but through perseverance and luck we managed to land a handful of bass that were of average size (2.5 lbs?) but still a pleasure to fight on the 6WT’s we were armed with.

Regardless of what we caught, it was a blast just to hang out with folks from Patagonia, Sportsmans Finest and Bayou City Angler that are all people just as passionate about fly fishing as we are at Gruene Outfitters. The Texas fly fishing community is gaining strength and will only continue to do so…be a part of and contact any of these fine local folks for information on how to grab a rod and get out there! We’re all in this together!

www.allwaterguides.com

www.grueneoutfitters.com

www.bayoucityangler.com

www.sportsmansfinest.com

A huge thank you to Patagonia for walking the walk and talking the talk and making this whole thing happen!

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.

For all the joyous things about family life (and there are many) the one disconcerting thing you learn REALLY quickly is that personal time is rare, special and unique and simply can not be squandered away on idle chores like paying bills, mowing the grass or showing up for jury duty.

Suffice to say that when you get two angling parents together (myself and my good friend Nathan) and grant them a handful of hours to peck away at, you’re going to bear witness to a couple of folks, hunched and hectic, sucking the very marrow out of life and breakfast tacos as well.

 photo by Nathan Peck

After meeting up and picking up said tacos, plus the usual rations of jerky, wine and beer at Graceland Grocery and discussing his need to be home by early afternoon, we pulled into Pedernales State Park practically humming with anticipation of a beautiful day spent in perfect flows and perfectly cool weather. After a previous trip here trying to lug around a 3WT (bass, sunfish) and a 6WT (gar, drum) i settled on just taking the 3WT and resigning myself to enjoying catching mostly smaller fish, unencombered by both a second rod and the expectation of catching something huge.

Within minutes of making our way down the rocky pathway and trammel crossing Nathan managed to use a size 12 Wooly Bugger to hook into a  small but spastic bass that quite simply was not excited about being punked by a papa. This scene unfolded time and time again as Nathan caught bass after bass interspersed with the occasional sunfish.

For the most part i was somehow coming up empty as Nathan managed to bring in a small collection of fish, despite the fact that i was tying on progressively smaller flies in an effort to increase my odds of landing anything…anything at all.

photo by Nathan Peck

Working our way to the far eastern side of the park, i wandered slightly ahead and found a deep pool, barely wider than a kiddie pool, but still 6 feet deep or so, with two 20 pound drum hanging out, hugging the bottom, little more than dark shadows shapeshifting far down in the quickly moving water.

Arrow casting upstream amongst the tight wall of cypress and wishing for the streamer to sink faster than it physically could, i watched as the sculpin pattern quickly moved passed their heads before a small mysterious dragon, radiant in a coat of grey and yellows shot up from the dark depths and slammed the fly without hesitation, fully intent on making quick work of my fly.

With a nimble 3WT connecting me two the fish and a healthier than normal flow, the catfish ran amok with added leverage, intent on snapping every inch of tippet that would result in its immediate freedom. Steering it away from rough edged rocks and snarls of downed cypress limbs, eventually i escorted it to the net while simultaneously yelling for Nate to come and hopefully capture this this odd catch on film.

After having Nate take the ubiquitous photo, i quickly released the catfish and surrendered the spot to him in order to see what else could be found. Within a few casts he quickly hooked up with yet another in a menagerie of bass that once again brought smiles, whoops and hollers like any take really should.

Glancing at the time, Nate mentioned a little hesitantly that we needed to start heading back so that fatherly duties could be attended to. Had it been any of the numerous recent days of fishing this news would have likely have been followed with hand wringing, nervous shifting, or at the very least some profanities muttered quietly under my breath.

Instead i glanced downstream towards the possible future, glanced back upstream at the past and thought about the many fish and unique characters that had created our day, and finally shrugged honestly and contently.

“Sure! Let’s go.” I was able to say happily without even a trace of regret or bitterness. After all, it’s easy to be at peace with the present when the past has been so generous to you and your friends. Carpe diem indeed.

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!