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Category Archive:   Texas Rivers


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:

tpwd.texas.gov/publicat…/pwdpubs/media/pwd_rp_t3200_1692.pdf

Good luck!

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

Thank you Gruene Outfitters and Lazy L & L!

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I’m pretty sure we all have those peculiar waters that we simultaneously loathe and revere. For me one of those bodies of waters is the San Marcos, specifically the stretch between Martindale and Staples near the wonderful town of San Marcos.

If you’ve ever spent any time on the San Marcos, you know how magical it can be. It’s a spring fed river whose beginnings bubble up from Edwards Aquifer in downtown San Marcos and run for a mere four miles before joining up with the much more temperamental Blanco river.

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If you could somehow take away the private houses and development that line its shores, appearing like teen age scrawls on a Van Gogh painting, it is truly timeless and sublime stretch of water. Rushing rapids are followed by braids of water covered by canopies of endless amounts of bald cypress along with many other plants and trees that call this river home. Long slow pools play hosts to a variety of turtles, egrets, herons, king fishers and the like, all of them hunting, stalking and subsisting on these luminous azure waters.

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It was the same stretch that i had ventured on years ago with another good friend, and once again i felt the pull, the need to make the float and try to understand this river that seems to mystify me so.

My friend Nate and i put in at Highway 1979 after briefly leaving one of our vehicles down below at highway 1977 further downstream and then consuming some amazing local barbacoa tacos. As we made our way back to the starting point we experienced a small town traffic jam (above) that involved 20+ heads of cattle and an aging farmer that rightfully waved us down and indicated that he was more concerned about his cattle on the road, than us making our float trip in the allotted amount of time.

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In a sign of the times (and not the best, i might add) it appears that “Put-In” and “Take-Out” areas that had existed just a few years ago are now a thing of the past. Water access at both our put-in and take-out were virtually non existent, an uncomfortablle trend I’ve noticed with every new “Bridge Development” that happens in this part of Texas (and i imagine the bigger picture.) Instead of pulling under the 1979 bridge, where there used to be access, we opted to pay and park at Spencer Canoes right across the river which provided at least an allusion of safety, all though there seemed to be nobody around (which makes sense since it is the off season.)

The focus of the trip was obviously to catch fish, and glancing around, every bend and braid seemed to be the logical holding spot for the biggest Guadalupe bass known to man, or at the very least, a small sunfish. I’m not sure if it’s just me, but once again i threw the kitchen sink (floating lines, sinking lines, massive streamers, micro poppers) and nothing seemed to be effective despite glancing all around and seeing waters that seemed to scream “FISH!”

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After three hours of paddling and getting zero bites, we rounded a bend and i went through all the motions that i had for the last few hours, except, this time…there was a bite. Sure it was just a sunfish (above) , but it was a relentless little bastard that easily fooled me into thinking i had a three pound bass on the other end of the line. Within the next handful of casts two more equally sized sunfish came to hand for me while Nate was also landing serious sunfish.

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Then, as quickly as it started, it likewise came to a definitive stop with nary a bite seen again. Realizing we were just a little more than halfway through the float we ushered our crafts onto a gravel bar and broke out the wine, meats and cheeses. Leaning back on my camp chair (which doubles as my seat on the Versa Board) with the wind suddenly picking up drastically, i watched the clouds start to hustle, scurry, and meld into each other in a hurried and very un-cloud like way.

Knowing how far we had to go, and noticing that the wind was shooting straight upstream at about 30MPH and aware that we had hours of paddling to go, i sipped down some Pinot Grigio, turned to Nate and mentioned that this was a lousy fishing trip, but a wonderful paddle.

The shock to my system wasn’t so much that i said it, but that i REALLY and TRULY meant it.

Despite the fish, i was truly happy, likely because of friendship, clear water, blue skies, cheese, salami, wine and good conversation. Just goes to show that sometimes it’s not even about the fish.

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