Monthly Archives: May 2013

Magical San Marcos River

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.

alt = "The Group - Alan, Ken & Brian"

The Group – Alan, Ken & Brian

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.

alt = "Kevin and Brian"

Kevin and Brian

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.

alt = "San Marcos River Redbreast Sunfish"

San Marcos River Redbreast Sunfish

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.

alt = "Ken's San Marcos River Catfish"

Ken’s San Marcos River Catfish

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.

alt = "Shore lunch on the San Marcos River"

Shore lunch on the San Marcos River

alt = "Custom Water Bottle"

Custom Water Bottle

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”!

alt = "Brian's Largemouth Bass"

Brian’s Largemouth Bass

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.

alt = "Magical San Marcos River"

Magical San Marcos River

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!

The Llano is Wet

I am frequently asked “Have you been out on the water?”.   Typically the answer is “Yes, I have…”.  This past week I was out on the Llano.  This response will cause a deer in the head lights glare and a very common question, “Is there water in the Llano?”.  Sure, the Llano does have water.  We are still in a drought, but the spring rains have given the Llano a shot in the arm with much needed water.  My good friend and fish’n buddy Andy and I headed west into the Texas Hill Country the first week in May.

alt = "The Llano is Wet"

Llano River is Wet

The fish where not responding on top, however streamers where the answer for the day.  We have had a cool spring this year which I contribute to a slower than normal start with top water action on the Llano.  One of my favorites streamers is the “Matt’s Bug”.  This is a wooly bugger variant that was originally tied from a past member of the Central Texas Fly Fishers  – yep you guessed it, his name is Matt.  What makes the Matt’s Bug so special is the lead tape that is used to both weight and shape the fly.

alt = "Llano River Redbreast"

Llano River Redbreast

We had a variety of species take the fly that day including the Redbreast Sunfish, Largemouth Bass, Guadalupe Bass and the first Rio Grande  of the year.

alt = "Llano River Guadalupe Bass"

Llano River Guadalupe Bass

alt = "Llano River Rio Grande

Llano River Rio Grande

Not only was the fishing good, you sure can’t beat the springtime Texas Wildflowers in bloom.

alt = "Llano River Indian Blankets"

Llano River Indian Blankets

So just in case you are wondering, yes the Llano is wet and is worth a drive west into the Texas Hill Country.

alt = "Llano River Largemouth Bass"

Llano River Largemouth Bass

Keep Austin Fly Fishing!

White Bass Walk’n

The most frequent question I was asked this past spring was “Are the White’s running?”  With the drought still a sad occurrence here in central Texas, we just never had the amount of rain fall needed for a solid run out in the Hill Country.  I fish four spots that will hold a decent run and only one had a run this year.  We have had several good rains this spring, but not enough to allow for consistent water flow down the tributaries for the Whites to make a road trip to the party grounds.

However, the one spot that did produce out of the four this year was at the confluence of the Llano River with Lake LBJ.  This spot is a hard to get to location due to the private land that borders the spawning areas.  I have access through a couple spots which allows for less walking and more fishing.

alt = "White Bass caught on Flashabou Streamer"

White Bass caught on Flashabou Streamer

I had the opportunity to take Shannon for a late trip this past April.  We fished the tail end of the run, which allowed for a few larger fish.  Shannon has attended several fly tying classes that I instruct at the shop and he just happened to be there on a night we tied a white bass fly (The Flashabou Streamer).   This fly was the ticket for the bigger fish.

alt = "Shannon's Big White Bass"

Shannon’s Big White Bass

So even in a drought, the LBJ Whites still had the urge and enough water to make “a run”, or on second thought I will call it “a walk” this year due to the lower than normal flows.

Hopefully next year we have a stronger run of White’s, but at least there might be an opportunity for a White Bass Walk.

Alt = "Llano River White Bass"

Llano RIver White Bass

Keep Austin Fly Fishing!