Can it get any better than This?

Non-Trout pursuits

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Jimbo Roberts
Posts: 1326
Joined: Fri Nov 08, 2002 8:26 am
Location: San Antonio, TX

Can it get any better than This?

Post by Jimbo Roberts » Sat Jun 04, 2011 10:03 am

Well it's June and we're in the middle of a drought. Last year's high flows and Rainbow Trout Bonanza has turned into a trickle and a fight for survival below Canyon Lake. As much as I want to throw some hoppers at our Rainbows, you just have to walk away and hope a few make it through the summer somehow.

It's time to turn my attentions to the west and a return to fishing other stretches of the Texas Hill Country's rivers. It's a good thing I've been wandering out here for so many years. Bud Priddy pointed the way for us and with his guide and a Mapsco Roads of Texas companion, there is more water than a man can cover with an endless string of yardpasses.

I didn't have to think long to figure where I would like to start my chase for the Guadalupe Bass. TPWD has been working on the restoration of our state fish for 3 years now stocking them in critical habitat to restore them throughout their native range. And I know some of those places very well.

So Thursday I finished up a little work left dangling in the office by 10am and threw some gear in the back of the Escape. I pointed the truck west out IH 10 for a spot I know on the middle Guadalupe. I was hoping to get into some private water I know but upon arriving their Ranch house was empty. Here in Texas one does not venture onto another's property unannounced so I would have to settle for another crossing downstream.

No matter it's all good here.....
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On these hot Texas summer days there's no better way to spend it than wading up the center of a Cypress Tunnel. Here the water is low too, only 14cfs or so by the nearest USGS guage, but at least these fish are bred for it.

My first instinct, especially in low flows is to tie on a topwater bug.
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It was greeted almost immediately with a flushing of the water's surface and a steady tug at the end of my line. These green sunfish with their oversized mouths can swallow almost anything. And it's amazing how fast these little fish can disappear once they are released. They touch the water and then a flick of their tail puts them 30' away back in the security of the Cypress root balls..... Gone!

Subsequent casts were lacking the participation that the first fish had inspired. I worked upstream, but there was a distinct sense that these fish were not wanting to come up to the surface. It was too quiet for the noon time hour. Not much a breeze and no Cicada songs to fill the trees. I switched to the next best thing a Cat's Whisker. It too went sideways almost immediately as a little Bass thought he had found his chicken fried steak. But like the first fish it was just a pretender and not the real deal. The following searching casts to the bases of the Cypress trees went unnoticed. And after about another 15 minutes of this it was time to switch flys again. Channeling Bud I tied on a Cypert Minnow, this one made exclusively with mylar tubing giving it a flashy blue-green sheen in the water. The next hole wallowed out behind a big root wad proved Bud was right. I caught Redbreast, Longear, Green and Guadalupes.
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Moving up out of the Cypress Tunnels and the next drop I caught something very unusual.
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This Longear dressed up for a wedding, or at least a wedding night, with a double operculum. I've never seen this before. We've talked at lenght about how Longears develope unique colorations in seperate drainages, but a double operculum is something I've never seen anywhere.

Catching was still spotty as I moved upstream quickly looking for biters. Here in this stretch of the Guadalupe the Cypress thinned out. But any little spot of shade on the surface would be where the fish were located. The breeze finally started to pick up and just in time as this June the sun has been a cruel master. The Cicadas began to sing and Redtailed Hawks cried out as they floated overhead. All good signs. And as a student of nature I knew that she was beginning to wake up.

One last Green Sunfish on the cypert minnow.....
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Back on with my popper, and the lunch line was open again.
Guadalupes......
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Redbreast.....
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They all were ready to feast.

I had been moving upstream faster than anticipated and arrived at the big bend in the river ahead of schedule. Here there were very few trees on the west side and sunny side of the river, but there was a high bank on the inside of the bend was casting a shadow several feet out. The water was several feet deep here too. Normally with flows of 50-75cfs you couldn't wade upstream here without a snorkle. But today it was just bellybutton deep and perfect.
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This slow moving water was also the favored habitat of the Largemouth Bass, and sure enough I caught a few.
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The good news was there were only 3 that I caught here today. The Guadalupes would outnumber them by almost 30 fold.

Yes it was turning out to be an fabulous day. Here the Bass far out numbered the big Redbreats. And there were some bigger Guadalupes here to be caught.
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It was getting to be unbelievible. At one point I caught 5 Guadalupes on 5 casts. And it wouldn't be the only time either. This happened 3 times today as incredible as it sounds.

As I left the big bend and back into the Cypress tunnels I was wondering, Could I wade all the way upstream to the next crossing? I've never waded from crossing to crossing here in either direction. But these low flows made it possible to get through the deep water in the bend, so I decided to go for it instead of turning around. I'm glad I did.

The trees started to cover the bank here and I was glad to be entering the shade again. This is normally where I wade down at the end of a long day from the crossing upstream.
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And the Cypress tunnels begin in earnest here.....
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The water is too shallow on the edges in this stretch, but the middle of this limestone slab is rutted and the Bass hold in these deeper slots. It was a Guadalupe Free-for-all. The Bass would come slashing at my bug from every direction, out of the shadows, and exploding on my bug. I caught 5 on 5 casts again. I was giddy.

There is a point where a dry creek comes into the river here forming a slough. There is a long line of roots anchoring the bank and creating a deep edge with cover.
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I cast my bug hugging the line of roots and popping it downstream. This fish came up turning just against the surface and going down with my bug. The rod bent deeply. I started to think I should have switched to a heavier tippet as this fish bulldogged his way along those roots. I got lucky and he never darted in to the hopeless tangle. I pulled him to the surface and grabbed him first time he came past me.
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He shook hard as I held him and the little bugger cut my thumb with the abrasive teeth in it's jaw, but it was well worth it!
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At almost 15" this was about as good as it gets here !!!!

The shadows were getting long. I wanted to see Dallas play Miami in the NBA finals and I needed to skip some of this water, but not too much.
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There were more Big Guadalupes to be caught and I was willing to miss part of the game to do it.
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I was getting a bit tired and my casting was getting to be a little too optimistic.....
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A cast 3" too far and that lie was blown retriving my popper.
My thumb was showing the wear of the too many to accurately count to hand.
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One last hole and one more giant.....
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They were still eating it with gusto when it was time to get out.
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It was a good stretch of the legs maybe 1 1/2 miles by county road back to where I had started the day.
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The day was..... well..... almost unbelievible. Best guess on the count: 63 Perch, 1 Catfish, and 91 Bass.
It just doesn't get any better while one's still awake !!!

Jimbo
Last edited by Jimbo Roberts on Mon Jun 06, 2011 7:37 am, edited 10 times in total.

Alex Argyros
Posts: 424
Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2007 12:52 pm
Location: Austin

Re: Can it get any better than This?

Post by Alex Argyros » Sat Jun 04, 2011 5:41 pm

Hard to imagine that it could get any better. A good reminder that we have more than excellent trout fishing in the Hill Country; we also have incredible warm water stream fishing.

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Rafael Torres
Posts: 29
Joined: Sun Mar 30, 2008 1:14 pm
Location: Austin
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Re: Can it get any better than This?

Post by Rafael Torres » Sun Jun 05, 2011 1:36 pm

Ahh jimbo another great post and picture escape thanks Brother
Rafael ><~}}}}*>

"Rise and Rise Again, Until Lambs Become Lions"

Jimbo Roberts
Posts: 1326
Joined: Fri Nov 08, 2002 8:26 am
Location: San Antonio, TX

Re: Can it get any better than This?

Post by Jimbo Roberts » Sun Jun 05, 2011 5:10 pm

It's fun posting these, and it's a escape for me to remember my trips too.

Jimbo

pontoonman
Posts: 76
Joined: Sun Mar 02, 2008 3:39 pm

Re: Can it get any better than This?

Post by pontoonman » Mon Jun 06, 2011 9:24 am

This has to be some kind of record, 155 fish in 7-8 hours with a flyrod, no barbs?, no water? When I grow up I want to be like him. Thanks for posting, pics made my day.

Pon

Jimbo Roberts
Posts: 1326
Joined: Fri Nov 08, 2002 8:26 am
Location: San Antonio, TX

Re: Can it get any better than This?

Post by Jimbo Roberts » Tue Jun 07, 2011 11:11 pm

Back to fish the middle Guadalupe again today.
First off it wasn't as spectacular as last Thursday, but still pretty good by any measure, 48 Bass and 37 Perch.

This is a different stretch and I haven't fished here in 2 years. It certainly has changed from last year's floods.
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This pool was perfect last time and now a gravel bar has moved downstream and filled most of it. The Bass were still here just not the giants I caught here last time.
2 years ago this pool gave up the lastest Guadalupe I've ever caught and now just the standard fair.
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Most everything I caught was standard sized. Again I'm not complaining, just coming down from last week's high.


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I did catch some large Green Sunfish again.....
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I found this stretch of water that was rutted limestone about 2 feet deep. And even with the sun beating down on it the Bass were here and feeding.....
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That right it's just like fishing for Brookies in Colorado except..... we're in Texas, these are Bass, and it's a 101 in the shade.....
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And I do have a sense of mercy. Here is your clue to this spot's location......
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This old house, long ago, caught fire, and burned leaving just the skeleton of the limestone fireplace and foundation.

Cheers
Jimbo

clarke
Posts: 2
Joined: Sat Nov 22, 2003 5:47 pm

Re: Can it get any better than This?

Post by clarke » Mon Jun 13, 2011 11:35 pm

Great trip report for June 4, Jimbo. I floated that stretch in a tube last year; took all afternoon, and got the old shredded lipping thumb too. Glad to hear the fish are still there!

ewell

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