I had the opportunity to take my friend Nick and his friend Matt fly fishing on the San Marcos River this past week. Nick and Matt are not your middle aged fly fishers; they are both in High School. Nick will be a junior this coming year while Matt will be starting his senior year. Both attend Westlake High School and are on the Lacrosse team for the school. I have been friends with Nick for a couple years now. He and I had first fished together two years ago on a coastal trip down to Arroyo City in the Lower Laguna Madre. If you are doing the math, Nick was 13 when I first went on a fly fishing trip with him. Not only is Nick busy with school and sports, he is the President of the Junior Board for the Austin’s chapter of CCA . Nick also works part time for Sportsman’s Finest when his busy schedule permits.
Nick and Matt had never been on a raft designed to accommodate fly fisher’s. The San Marcos River was also a new adventure for them. This trip had the feeling of Christmas morning you might say. I had met up with the boys so they could follow me down to our launch site. The meeting location was a Speedy Stop/Gas station, which by the way sells white powered donuts. I wished I would have pulled out my camera so you could have seen Nick with powdered sugar all over his lips and face as I pulled up to meet them. There was enough excitement and sugar to power a space shuttle to the moon.
The forecast for the day was 40 percent chance of thunderstorms with cloud cover all day. This was a bit concerning since once you start the float there is no turning back. The rains never came, but most of the areas in and around Austin did have up to ½ inch of rain on that day. This must have been our lucky sign for great things to come on that memorable day on the water.
I had an interesting conversation with Matt as we ran a quick shuttle of vehicles. He was excited about his upcoming fishing trips this coming summer. He will be trout fishing in Colorado with his family and after that he will be headed to Hawaii. He mentioned that the trip to Hawaii was not all about fishing, but he was going to find the time to hopefully catch a few Bonefish.
We started off the trip with Matt fishing a top water popper and Nick was throwing a streamer pattern. The fish almost immediately responded to the top water popper that Matt was fishing. As the morning went on the top water action only got better. So Nick switched over to a popper since the streamer action was not happening.
We had just gotten through some fast water when all of a sudden bait was jumping out of the water. I looked over at the bank and saw a sunfish flopping on the shore. A sure sign something big was chasing fish and it was hungry. Matt immediately put his popper into the commotion and was instantly hooked up with the Largemouth of the day. The fish measured out at 17 ½” and put smiles on everyone’s face.
The San Marcos River is deep and wade fishing is limited. However, there are several spots that would allow us to get out of the raft. This allowed us to do some wade fishing around the faster moving waters in hope of finding some Smallie’s. However, the Smallmouth Bass continued to remain a stranger to our offerings.
The boys caught numerous Largemouth Bass, Redbreast Sunfish, Guadalupe Bass and a Redear Sunfish thrown in to the mix of fish. It did not seem to matter the color or size of popper, just as long as it went “Pop”.
After lunch we pushed on in hopes of finding a Smallmouth Bass. The trip wouldn’t be complete without the San Marcos River Smallmouth Bass. The Largemouth Bass continued to eat our offerings. Fifteen, twenty and even thirty where the number’s that where coming from the boy’s mouth’s as they continued to set the hook on the over anxious Largemouth Bass of the San Marcos River.
There was so much excitement coming from the raft that day I think even the Long Horn’s on the river bank had to stop from what they were doing to take in Nick and Matt setting the hook on those hungry San Marcos River Bass.
There was even a moment where we thought another heard of cattle that where blocking the river where not going to let us pass so as to not give up their front row seat to the excitement that the San Marcos brought that day.
Things started to slow down as the trip was getting in to the final hour of our float. Then out of nowhere there was a take like no other of the day. Nick’s rod was bent as I went for the net. Smallmouth he yells, awesome I think as I slip the net in the water waiting for the fight to end. The fish tail walked as Matt and I looked on. It seems like an eternity from the time a fish is hooked until it enters the net. Well at least this fish, the San Marcos River Smallmouth Bass. Fifteen inches of an attitude came into the net as high fives where given across the boat.
There is a popular saying that I always like to hear: “Take a Kid Fishing”. Nick and Matt are no kid’s, but accomplished anglers of the “Next Generation of the San Marcos River”.
Keep Austin Fly Fishing!