Tag Archives: Aire Rafts


You might be wondering what the title “Fatties” has to do with fly fishing.  Healthy fish, over weight fish, fish that are getting ready for winter.  Yes, “Fatties” refers to fish that fly fishers are excited to catch.

alt = "Fatties - Lower Colorado River Bass"

Fatties – Lower Colorado River Bass

Fall fishing this year on the Lower Colorado River has been frustrating.  Austin, TX has received large amounts of rain this fall which translates to muddy waters for the Lower Colorado River.  Then the rains of Halloween came.  Onion Creek rose 11 feet in 15 minutes and crested at a record 41 feet, sending walls of water into surrounding neighborhoods.  By the way the previous  record for Onion Creek, set in 1869 and again in 1921, was 38 feet.  The rains had Onion Creek at a flow rate of 120,000 cubic feet per second – nearly twice the force of Niagara Falls.  Why all the talk about Onion Creek?  Onion Creek flows into the Lower Colorado River.

alt = "Flood Damage"

Flood Damage

It was 5 weeks since the flood, Josh and Casey met up with me in the town of Webberville, TX just east of Austin for a day on the water.  It was December 2 and finally some fall fishing .  The prior weekend Austin had several days with the highs in the low 40’s.  However, the 3 days prior to December 2, Austin had a string of warm days.  As I sit here writing this report Austin has been on a record with days not making it out of the 30’s.  Although the calendar still say’s fall, winter has arrived in Austin. Winter weather in south central Texas can mean highs from the 30’s to the 70’s, with even an 80 degree day thrown in.  That is what happened on December 2nd, highs in the 80’and we went fishing.

alt = "Upstream On The Fly - Outcast Raft"

Upstream On The Fly – Outcast Raft

Josh and Casey are passionate not only about fly fishing, but also tying up flies.  Josh provided an articulated swim bait fly while Casey tied up a Crawdad pattern.  Everything is bigger in Texas and that was the fly selection for the day.

alt = "Articulated Streamer"

Articulated Streamer

Josh had several “Personal Best’s” for the day.  Starting out with his very first White Bass on the fly.  Josh is originally from Montana and this was the first time he has caught a White Bass.  Lucky for him, there were many more to follow his first.  Casey had caught the trip’s biggest White Bass “aka Fatties”.

alt = "Josh's First White Bass Ever"

Josh’s First White Bass Ever


alt = "Casey's White Bass"

Casey’s White Bass

Casey on the other hand grew up in East Texas, which is famous for trophy sized Largemouth Bass.  Casey is all about catching “Fatties” and today was no different.  He also had a “Personal Best” from the trip, a Lower Colorado Guadalupe Bass.  We thought he had a new state record with the way his 8 weight fly rod was doubled over.  “Get the scale everyone yelled” the anticipation was so thick you could almost cut it with a knife, until it came in at 2lb on the scale.  Nothing wrong with wishful thinking.  But, someday this river will produce the new state record Guadalupe Bass.


alt = "Casey's Personal Best Guadalupe Bass"

Casey’s Personal Best Guadalupe Bass

alt = "Josh's Personal Best Guadalupe Bass"

Josh’s Personal Best Guadalupe Bass

Our trip produced over 45 fish for the day including White Bass, Guadalupe Bass and Largemouth Bass.  Not a bad day on the water when considering it was 40 degrees the weekend prior to our trip.  When an extended warming trend hits us here in Austin, even if the calendar says winter, it will once again be time to go fishing – Upstream On The Fly.

So if “Fatties” are what you are after, then the Lower Colorado River is sure not to disappoint.


alt = "Josh's Personal Best Largemouth Bass"

Josh’s Personal Best Largemouth Bass

alt = "Casey's Largemouth Bass"

Casey’s Largemouth Bass


Keep Austin Fly Fishing!

Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind

When a Texan mentions Fort Worth, we think of the Stockyards host to the world’s largest honky tonk – Billy Bob’sJoe T. Garcia’s Mexican restaurant, the place in Forth Worth to feast on giant portions of good Tex-Mex chow from an era before Tex-Mex was fashionable.  95.9 fm The Ranch – the sound of Texas, home of Texas Country Music.  Not only does Fort Worth have all of that, it also is home to the Fort Worth Fly Fishers , yes a fly club in the land of Cowboy’s , Honky Tonks and world class Mexican food.  The Fort Worth Fly Fisher’s is 200 + member’s strong and still growing.

This past weekend I had the opportunity to guide the Fort Worth Fly Fishers on a San Marcos River outing.  The intent of my guide services for this outing was to take two wounded warriors (veterans) on a guided trip accompanied by members from the club.  However, plans fell through for the vet’s and they had to post pone for another time.   I still ran the trip for the club members that came for the outing.  I had the opportunity to meet new members and enjoyed visiting with members that I have been friends with for many years.

Not knowing how many fly fishers where going to show up, I got to the launch point early in order to make the raft ready for the day’s outing.

alt = "Raft provided by Upstream On The Fly"

Transportation for the day

I had just finished, when here comes a truck with a trailer of kayaks, and another truck with a couple of kayaks on top.  Everyone piled out and down to the river they came, grinning from ear to ear.  The anticipation of the day’s float, a river that most of them have not been on, a new adventure, its game time.  There was going to be a total of 6 Fort Worth Fly Fishers on the day’s outing.  The new faces stepped forward and introduced themselves to me, Mike, Mike and Mandy.  It was great to see my friends Mike, James and Rex.  It is always hard to remember new names when they all come at you at once, but not today.  All I had to do was say Mike and I had the majority of the new faces attention.

We started out with Mandy and James in the raft.  After going over the plans with the group, we took off down the river so everyone could spread out with their kayaks.  There was going to be a total of four kayaks in the water behind us, while we were leading the way from the raft.  We all had radios so we could keep up with one another’s catches or lack of so as to help with fly selections if needed.

alt = "Fort Worth Fly Fishers getting ready for the San Marcos River"

One Kayak at a time

Within minutes of being on the water Mandy had a big blow up on her black and white top water popper.  The fish missed the fly and it did not come back for more.  Fishing started out slow and James kept changing up his flies in hope of getting the fishes interest.  I told Mandy to stay with her Texas sized black and white popper.

Within an hour of being on the water, Mandy’s popper was attacked by another hungry bass.  She had caught the bass of the day.  It is always fun to watch a bass eat a top water popper.

alt = "San Marcos River Largemouth Bass"

Big Bass of the day

We all met up for a stream side lunch.  During lunch we all compared notes on the fly patterns used for the morning and swapped stories of the fish caught.

alt = " San Marcos RIver Redbreast"

San Marcos River Redbreast

As we were finishing up lunch an armada of kayaks came down the river.  After close inspection this was only a group of recreational paddlers and no fishing rods where present.  The group pulled over for a break and I had an opportunity to speak with their tour leader.  It was Stacey with Texas Pack & Paddle out of San Antonio, TX.   We let the group go on ahead of us before starting our second half of our outing.

alt = "Fort Worth Fly Fishers with Upstream On The Fly"

Group picture

James was going to paddle a kayak so his seat in the raft was open for a taker.  After everyone flipped coins and drew straws, Rex had the opportunity for the available seat in the raft.

I had plans on hitting up a spot that allows for sight casting to record sized Rio Grande Cichlids.  North Texas does not have Rio’s available for the catching so this was going to be a great chance at catching a unique fish that is native to central/south Texas, a Rio Grande Perch.

alt = "Rio showing it's turqoise spots"

Rio showing it’s turqoise spots

We pulled into the spot and I showed Mandy and Rex the Rios.  Rex was hooked up on his 3rd cast.  It was a nice one.  Mandy had one on and it got off.  So Mandy was more than ever determined to catch a Rio.  She hooked up with another Rio and it happened to be a very healthy one with nice colorations.  Mandy was telling me that she had never caught a Rio before, so this was a first for her.  Rex landed the Rio of the day, a trip maker as he referred to it.  Within a short period of time the two fly fishers had boated 5 Rios that all brought smiles to their face.

alt = "San Marcos River Rio Grande Cichlid"

Mandy’s personal best Rio Grande Cichlid

alt = "Texas Sized Rio Grande Cichlid"

Rex’s personal best Texas sized Rio Grande Cichlid

The San Marcos River is one of my summer time favorites.  When the air temperature is in the 100s, the spring fed river makes for a great place for a swim.  Also, the banks are linked with shade providing trees, which does allow for numerous breaks from the sun.

Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind, well it sure did this past weekend!

alt = "Fort Worth Fly Fishers on the San Marcos River"

Fort Worth Fly Fishers bringing up the rear

Keep Austin Fly Fishing!

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!

5 Pound Bass

“Up this morning
Before the sun
Fixed me some coffee and a honey bun
Jumped in my pickup
gave her the gas
I’m goin’ out to catch a 5 pound bass”

That is how the song by Robert Earl Keen starts out.  I can’t think of a better way to kick off “Upstream Reports”.

I offered to take Dac fishing for his last day at Sportsman’s Finest, Dac has his sights set on Alaska, where he will spend the summer working as a fly fishing guide.

My 14 foot Aire raft is equipped with an Outcast fishing frame which allows for 2 anglers and one rower.  I needed to fill the other seat.

alt = "14 foot Aire Raft with Outcast Fishing Frame"

14 foot Aire Raft with Outcast Fishing Frame

Winston was in the store that week prior to our trip and he was elected to join us for fishing, rowing and fun on the water.

alt = "Winston Fishing"

Winston Getting After It

Every hour we rotated through the 3 seats so we all had the opportunity to fish and power the raft down the Lower Colorado.

The month of April started off strong, but then the rains came.  Not a lot, but enough to put that brown stain in the river.  With frequent late arriving cold fronts throughout mid month, April became a month of timing.  It had been 2 weeks since the rain and it was time to hit the water.  The river had been fishing slow, and we knew the fish where going to have to start eating some time.

Second cast of the trip Dac hooked up with a White Bass.  Winston landed a small Largemouth.  For the next 4-5 hours small bass kept sucking down the top water flies.  Not big numbers, but enough to keep us interested.

alt = "Dac's White Bass"

Dac’s White Bass

I stayed with the meaty flies in hopes of landing the fish of the day.  There are times that you can go for quantity or quality.  I chose quality for the day.

One hour from take out, the bottom fell out around my top water fly, “Umpqua’s Pucker Lips”.   After 3 jumps, and several strong runs, the Sage Bass series had her in the net.

alt = "5 Pound Bass"

5 Pound Bass

“I see a ripple
I hear a splash
Lord have mercy, It’s a 5 pound bass”

Keep Austin Fly Fishing!