I had an opportunity to take 3 fly fishers out on a trip. They were not from Texas, so this was going to be a new experience for them. Two of the fisherman are from Ireland and the other from Australia. These guy’s fish the world over and they were in Austin, TX for a visit and they wanted to spend a day out on the water. The pressure was on, in a worldly manner you might say.
Of course the first river that came to mind was the Colorado River for a possible big Bass bite. With luck of Mother Nature we had a hard rain on late Friday into Saturday morning prior to our Monday trip. Yes, we need the rain, just not on this day. The Colorado can get muddy fast and is very slow to clear out. The group was interested in a possible “Big Bass” bite, but it is not going to happen when faced with stained and high waters of the Colorado River.
The next best option for a “Big Bass” bite is the San Marcos River. The San Marcos River is one of the most unique and beautiful spring-fed rivers in the world. Home to eight endangered species, the San Marcos River is considered among the oldest continually inhabited areas in North America. These guy’s fish some of the most pristine water’s in the world, I felt like I needed to show them some of Texas’s most scenic water’s. Luckily the San Marcos cleared up fast from the rain, and with it spring fed water’s it provides a constant temperature for the fish.
Since I had a group of 3 anglers, I needed a second guide to accommodate a third person. The Aire raft’s only have room for 2 anglers (in addition to me, the rower and guide for the day). So I sent out 3 messages to the area’s best guides/friends. In case you wonder how this works, the first one to clear his plate and respond will be the selected guide for the additional boat. Kevin Hutchison with Hill Country FlyFishers was able to accommodate the second boat for the day.
I started the day with the 2 from Ireland in my raft while Kevin had the Australian in his. We would fish this way until lunch, then rotate out. There are days on the San Marcos where proper fly presentation is everything, that is if you want to catch fish. When I say put the fly on the bank, I mean on the bank. If you come up short, say 2 feet from the bank, then it is only casting practice. The guy’s had no problem with fly placement; you could say they had skills.
By lunch time we boated a total of 5 fish, one small bass, a nice catfish and the rest where redbreast sunfish. Not exactly what I was hoping for, but at least activity to keep everyone interested.
We stopped for lunch and I let Kevin do his magic. If you have ever fished with Kevin, he is all about presentation with a stream side lunch. You will not find a typical sandwich, but some of the best chicken salad pasta one has ever eaten. And on a day like we were having in regards to the size of fish being caught, a well done lunch doesn’t hurt.
It sure would have been nice to have hung a hammock in the trees for a siesta, but it was time to put some fish in the boat. I took the Australian (Brian) that had fished with Kevin in the morning and his brother from Ireland stayed in my raft. Brian had caught zero fish that morning so the pressure was on; I really wanted him to experience the great fishery the San Marcos can be. By the way his shirt had an embroidered phrase of “Go Big or Go Home”!
We found some back water eddies that had very clear water. I saw a large school of Rio Grande Cichlids and other stray bass and sunfish thrown in. We spent the next hour sight fishing to the Rio’s and it paid off. Brian caught 2 Rio Grande’s with one being a true beast of a fish. I put a tape to the Rio and he had a body width of 12 inches, which was larger than the fish’s length of 11 inches. For the rest of the day Brian kept referring to the San Marcos River as “The Magical River”. I was not sure if it was due to the Rio Grande Cichlids which where his first on a fly rod, or just the beauty of floating one of Texas’s most pristine spring fed rivers. For the rest of the day, both of our boats kept putting small Largemouth Bass and Redbreast sunfish into the net.
We never found the trophy Bass that we where after, but we did find “The Magic”, of the San Marcos River.
Keep Austin Fly Fishing!