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Category Archive:   Texas Rivers


Jeez, us. I’m starting to feel like i may never catch another trout again. I set out for the Guadalupe today. Once again a cold front came in the night before. This morning it was close to 30 degrees as i ventured into the chilly waters intent on catching anything…anything. Of course the water was around 40 degrees and the trout barely move at that point, they’re just trying to not freeze to death. I of course realized this MUCH later.

My day started in a much different place than the fishing did. My day really started at Susie’s Donuts in Sattler. They pretty much have every breakfast option known to man or woman; breakfast tacos, kolaches, donuts and more. If your ever in town i HIGHLY suggest stopping there. By the way, one breakfast taco or kolache there is equivalent to two or three here in the City so place your order accordingly. I ordered far to much and don;t wish for you to do the same, although i did have food to last the whole day for a mere $10.  

I started out directly below the ominous dirt wall that is Canyon Lake Dam. I’ve had the feeling before and it never ceases to freak me out, all that water being held by what seems like a tenuous and nimble thread, p12800012i half expect it to give way the second i set foot on whatever river it might be…guess that’s the pessimist in me. While fishing the waters below the dam i stumbled into a good 18-20 inch-er sitting way down deep in a dark crevice. I was so surprised when i realized that my hook was in a fish instead of a stump that i neglected to set the hook. And that was in the first thirty minutes of what would turn out to be an 8 hour day of fishing. And it all happened in that first 30 minutes. Damn.

At first it stressed me out that i couldn’t seem to catch anything. I had tried various spots along the river and it was always the same thought roaming through my head…where the hell are they?

i eventually ended up at the Lazy L&L pretty much because it’s one of the only spots on this stretch of river that doesn’t have houses lining it’s bank. p12800041It feels distant and removed from the rest of the sleaziness that seems to infect this precious river. While i was there fishing the Devil’s Playground  i started to get that old familiar feeling that brings me to this spot time and time again…i am anywhere…at any time…life and reality just seem to fall away. Texas seems to have a bounty of those spots, places where you are essentially in the middle of it yet somehow so far removed from all of it.

After hours spent relaxing and getting back in touch with my love for the simple act of p1280014_22fly fishing, as opposed to the act of catching fish while fly fishing, i moved on to Hueco Camp. I was hoping to catch a trout or two to bring home and grill, my way of justifying the fly fishing bug to my wife. Although she appreciates the joy it brings me, it brings her a lot more when it pays off in free fish. I loose that expression loosely by the way, obviously the fish aren’t free when you’ve invested hundreds of dollars into you “hobby”. But i figure that for me at least the rewards have already come back in the form of piece of mind. Unfortunately while i was at the Hueco Camp all i caught was some beautiful photos of the cliffs on the opposite side of the river.  The thing that really got me was that i was wading out up to my chest in freezing cold water and tossing perfect casts out to spots that should have had trout lined up to take my fly. Instead the bait caster to my right managed to pull a huge 20″ rainbow from the river without setting a precious toe into the icy depths. It made me realize once again what i already know, fly fishing is an art…if you REALLY want to catch fish you would do it with bait. JE SUIS UN ARTISTE!

As i side note i swung by Cabela’s to try and figure some stuff out and ended up strollingthrough p12800223their aquarium checking out all the fish that i didn’t catch. It’s pretty damn humbling to knock your brains out all day with such a simple set up hoping to trick some fish into taking your fly, or at the very least showing itself in such icy climes, and then you walk into this “aquarium” and there they all are layed out in front of you like some sick dance club revue.

Well, i spent about nine hours on the Guadalupe the other day and didn’t get so much as a bite. I only saw two fish the whole day. One was a 18″ monster that came close enough to examine my strike indicator briefly before heading back into the murky water. The other was another rainbow that i found at the end of a tangled mess of mono filament that had got caught up in a nice run down near Huaco Camp. At first i thought it was possibly a trot line but it was hard to tell, it might have just been a mess of line that got caught in a really strange way. At first when i was dragging all the line in i thought it was some sort of beer can connected to the end. I was surprised to find it was a good 13″ trout. I’m not sure how long he was there, minutes, days…who knows. I felt so bad for him that i quickly cut the line and let him free. 

Since i was so busy trying to catch anything after 5 days of being skunked i didn’t really take any photos. So instead let me share this photo of an old logging truck taken in Tillamook, Or.

Wow. 

What a day. It was around 45-50 degrees today with some nasty wind making casting ridiculously difficult at some points throughout the day. Never the less, it was a beautiful day. It was after all the first day of Trout season for me today. Trout Unlimited and the Texas Parks have been stocking the Guadalupe below Canyon Lake since last Friday. It was my first day off since the stocking and i was hoping that the trout had had enough time to at least get slightly settled into their new place. Unfortunately a cold fron came in late yesterday evening that brought freezing temperatures and even some sleet to our neck of the woods. 

So it was time pull out the waders and thermal underwear. Time to string up the tandem fly rigs, and string up the strike indicators. And last but not least, time to fill the flask with a little port for the late afternoon numbness that was sure to set in.
I started off at Hueco Springs which was beautiful, but exceptionally low. This is where the TPWD stocks but i didn’t see any sign of fish except for a medium size sunfish that i coaxed out of one of the deeper pools. Things didn’t get interesting until i headed upstream to the Lazy L&L. It was there that i ran into a nice fisherman that gave me the tip “Midges…midges!” He was catching trout on size 24 midges and then tossing size 10-12 Wooly Buggers and still landing them. While taking a snack break some fly fisherman and an entire entourage loaded down with HUGE video cameras, sound equipment, etc.  showed up and pretty much took over the pools that i was working. It was pretty strange to see this stretch of the river go from two people to twelve people in the blink of an eye. I hope they got some good shots but geez, it was weird watching it be about the video instead of the fishing. At one point one of the guys was on the top of the cliff near me (snacking) pointing out to the “actors” where the fish were.

 

“No, no, no, a rod length in front of you…45 degrees to your left is a rock. There’s a 20 incher hanging out under a ledge.”

 

Hmmmmm….i’m sure it will all look great on the screen but it seemed like blatant cheating to me.

 

Anyway, after they all left the other lone fisher took off and it was just me. I worked my way back up to the pool that i had gotten some strikes on. After casting all day with practically nothing it was a little awkward when it finally happened. One second the strike indicator was there, and then…nothing. SET THE HOOK! Suddenly water shooting skyward with a Rainbow at the epicenter. Next thing i know my 5WT is bowing to the fish as if it was the second coming of Christ! YEEEEESSSSSS! As i brought the fish in close i saw that it was about 18-20 inches and solid muscle. It was probably only thirty seconds but it felt like forever as i stood there staring at the fish on my fly.

 I have no net so it just lay there in the water looking at me as the thoughts raced through my head. They switched from sheer astonishment, to thoughts of fishing limits, from bewilderment to thinking about the case for releasing all fish. And as my gears locked up the fish saw it’s chance and tossed the hook. I plunged my arm after it in the icy water, but he/she was gone. For a brief second i was so upset i could spit nails. But then i cast again and realized what that fish had given me. My cast was effortless and free of tenseness for the first time all day. The first trout had been caught, everything else for the next three months would just be icing on the cake.

Finally it was here. After waiting for close to a year the Patagonia Stormfront pack was here in my hands. Durable, waterproof and (it must be said) a little bit dull. I assured myself that this merely meant it was much less likely to be noticed by intelligent fish and the not so intelligent thieves lying in wait. But the important thing was that it was here and i had a full day off to enjoy it in the wilds where there was nobody around to care what it looked like…AMEN! So this last Wednesday i took it and the 4WT out to fish the incredible Pedernales River.

After spending a good part of the summer on a particular three mile stretch of the river i finally decided to ask the park ranger for their recommendation on the best area to fish.

Only one section i was familiar with crossed their lips. Two other medium sized pools as well as a very large pool at the base of the falls were mentioned. Although i’d explored the falls quite a bit before, i somehow had missed the large pool at the base of the falls that was about 50 yards wide and 80 yards long. It had incredibly beautiful blue/green water and a large sandy beach. I know where i’ll be next summer.

From the large pool i slowly worked my way downstream following the “deer trails”, a series of unofficial trail networks created by both human and animal foot traffic alike. What i originally thought would be a four mile trek in and back ended up being closer to nine miles. A lot of hiking with some fishing thrown in. Even when i thought i was in for a few miles i thought the Stormfront might not be a good idea for such a hike, but after nine plus miles i have to say that i utterly forgot it was on my back except for when i was hauling it through low lying thicket, and even then it fought bravely and came out unscathed.
The main joys of the day were the river banks carpeted in fallen Bald Cypress needles that were shaded of red and brown. Seeing some sort of bass the size of my leg sitting in about seven inches of water. I tried desperately to land him, but you don’t get that big by being caught. Guadalupe Bass working the currents like wise Trout.

Eventually finding the Sunfish that were so hungry they actually jumped out of the water and over obstacles to take a bead head wooly bugger. The crazy clouds that brought winds so violent that standing in place on the moons landscape (the Falls) was almost impossible, my rod actually started skating away from me on the limestone following the winds whims. 

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