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Category Archive:   Trout


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On the hour and a half drive from Austin to Castell, TX i noticed that i seemed to be throttling the steering wheel with an increasingly tight grip, eager in anticipation for the fishing possibility that laid at the end of this seemingly endless stream of asphalt. This was after all a spot that offered up trout in the double digits in years past, being as they were, uneducated and farm raised trout, naive enough to swallow almost any threaded concoction that crossed their path. Oh the sweet memories of cast and take on the beautiful Llano.

The Llano river flowing through Castell, TX is just as dramatic and scenic as any stretch of the Llano, replete as it is with well worn limestone, sand bars, shallow riffles and deep well worn holes that hosts a variety of species during the warmer months. Twice during the winter though it is a heavenly repository to a small amount of TPWD (Texas Park and Wildlife) stocked trout that temporarily turn this warm water fishery into a rainbow trout run that is not only challenging but also a visually stunning testament to the unbridled scenery that is the Texas Hill Country.

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Running into a fellow fly fisherman, we struck up a conversation that included all the key points that fellow anglers usually discuss, flows, weather, and what is or isn’t working. In a wonderfully kind gesture however, the gentleman offered me one of his hand tied flies to try, a fly that was honestly quite beautiful in its simplicity. Parting ways, i strode from rock to rock with well selected care, my feet hardly protected from needles and abrasion due to the fact that it was eighty degrees and i was wet wading with nothing more than Chacos providing the most shallow of protection between sharp things and my already cracked and cut feet.

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It was a far cry from days of yore, in fact it was a major victory when i eventually enticed one especially gullible trout to go for a nymph just about the size of a clipped nail. Still, it was an incredible feeling to be on “trout waters” so remote, beautiful and far away from the throngs of well intentioned anglers that lately have overpopulated the Guadalupe.

Sure the TPWD stocked trout are significantly smaller than the GRTU stocked fish on the Guadalupe, but one can easily downsize to a 2-3WT (or a light Tenkara) and experience some wonderfully playful moments in some of the most scenic waters and scenery that Texas has to offer.

Note: TPWD was scheduled to re-stock the Llano with trout yesterday (01/12/17)  and though i was there from 12-2PM i never saw a tanking truck. I assume they stocked it later, but if you have any information please leave a comment to this post!

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TPWD Stocking Trout on the Guadalupe NOW!

guadalupe_mapimage from www.tpwd.texas.gov

It’s that time again everyone! Grab your dry flies and midges, dust off the thermal underwear and air out your waders before heading out to the southernmost trout waters located near Sattler, TX. This year Texas State Parks is once again stocking the Guadalupe River each week from now until the end of January and providing free access at five participating locals along the river.

For more information visit the TPWD Guadalupe River Trout Fishing site. See you down there!

grtu_tf_2017png-294x300After taking a year off, the Guadalupe Trout Unlimited chapter is bringing back the annual Troutfest. This year finds the festivity relocating to the Lazy L&L campgrounds (secretly my favorite spot on this stretch of the water) from February the 17th thru the 19th.

Whether you’ve just taken up fly fishing or are a seasoned veteran, this event is a great way to learn new skills, try out gear, or simply catch up with fellow anglers from all across Texas.

For more details on the event or volunteer to help make it the best year ever, visit the GRTU Toutfest site.

Steelheading’s patron saint has got to be Sisyphus, the ancient king of Ephyra who was punished for his vanity and deceitfulness by being forced to roll a giant boulder up a hill, only to have it come rolling down the hill again, an action that he would repeat for all of eternity. Lamenting his struggle and the obvious connection, i cast, raising the tip abruptly, tracing the outline of the “D” with the 12′ rod, followed the imaginary rim of the sombrero, and set my anchor before launching the streamer halfway across the Deschutes. After the tell tale splash i watched the line like a hawk, making sure to keep all of the bends out of the line, just as my brother had instructed me. It was an action i repeated over and over ad-nauseum like Sisyphus, the only change in pattern being that i worked my way downstream a few feet after every cast, in hopes of covering every last bit of roaring water between me and the next riffle or bend.

It’s an extraordinary thing, fishing for steelhead. It’s about the polar opposite of fishing in Texas where you can usually avoid a “skunk” just by tying on a smaller fly and targeting a panfish, Rio, or what have you. Steel head fishing is all or nothing…period, there is no hedging your bets, you either get one or you don’t.My brother David, a first class steel-header who also happened to be our local guide had informed me on the drive in that the fishing was at an all time record low. Up until this trip he’d fished 10 days in a row without a bite, and he knows what he’s doing. Upon hearing this i immediately tossed any chance of catching a steelhead right out the window, it’s hard enough when things are perfect, and apparently conditions were far from that.

Strangely enough i managed to hook into one of the quarry midway through the first day, but was foolish enough to allow it the luxury of the deep water and fast current. Breaking it off and glancing at my brother who had been trying to wave me to shore i suddenly had the sinking feeling that i had royally screwed up. Reeling in the taut-less line with ease all i could think was “Ten days of nothing leading up to this and i let that one slip away.”

Fortunately our luck turned around the next day, starting with my father hooking into a 40+ pound salmon that quickly let him know that it wasn’t in the mood to play by breaking him off. Encouraged by the simple act of a hook up, we scoured all the best spots for the rest of the day, eventually making our way back to the parking lot as the sun retreated to the other side of the hills. Making our way back after a long day and within minutes of the parking lot i scurried down into one of the more popular runs, spey rod in hand and quietly hoping to at least feel a tug after a day of nothingness. Shooting the line half way across the river i felt like a matador, constantly leading the line to the left in a graceful arc of posibility. I worked it out of the main current, fleetingly along the seam and towards the submerged rock. As it passed through the cushion in front of the submerged boulder the line shot out of my guides, the surprised reel humming and my knuckles getting smacked relentlessly by the blur of a knob.

My eyes scanning the implied direction of my line, i was surprised to see my steelhead jumping like a madman 50 yards upstream from where i thought it was. Panicked and wary of repeating the previous days mistakes i called to brother for guidance. Like a pro he delivered, walking me through the steps to help land a fish that was easily eight times the size of anything i ever catch around here. A memory to be sure.

Fortunately my brothers generosity was repaid on the third and following day when he landed a steelhead minutes after we hit the water, and a second shortly before leaving. It was incredibly gratifying to see all his work in making this trip possible for my dad and i come to fruition in front of our eyes. I’m lucky to have such a wonderful brother / steelhead guide.

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It’s hard to explain to non-anglers how one fish in three days can be seen as a success, but that’s the world of steel-heading. It’s a universe where the odds are inherently stacked against you, every failure or success is exaggerated, and where days can be compressed into minutes.

On the flight back, after a couple of complimentary Chardonnays loosened the gears, i put pen to paper as i ruminated on the experience. There were pages of thoughts, but this one seemed to sum it up best.

“Hundreds of meaningful but empty casts for one fish. One muscular, wild, screaming fish that felt the connection and tore the water asunder.”

Thank you David, dad, and the Deschutes.