Tag Archives: San Marcos River

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!

Next Generation of the San Marcos River

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.

alt = "Hungry for Yellow Poppers"

Hungry for Yellow Poppers

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.

Alt = "Poppers and Bass"

Poppers and Bass

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.

Alt = "San Marcos River Bass"

Matt’s 17 1/2″ San Marcos River Bass

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.

alt = "Next Generation"

Wade fishing the San Marcos River

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”.

Alt = "Hatch Reels and Scott S4S Fly Rod"

San Marcos River Guadalupe Bass

alt = "San Marcos River Redear"

San Marcos River Redear

alt = "San Marcos River Redbreast Sunfish"

San Marcos River Redbreast Sunfish

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.

Alt = "San Marcos River Bass"

Nick and a San Marcos River Bass

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.

Alt = "No Place but Texas"

No Place but Texas

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.

Alt = "Happy Cows"

Happy Cows

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.

Alt = "San Marcos River Smallie"

Nicks 15″ San Marcos River Smallie

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”.

Alt = "The Release"

The Release

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!