Hondo Creek

Non-Trout pursuits

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Jimbo Roberts
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Location: San Antonio, TX

Hondo Creek

Post by Jimbo Roberts » Mon Oct 22, 2012 12:23 pm

Talking with Ron last week we talked about the fact that we hadn't had the boys together to fish for Bass in a long time. So we made plans to return to Hondo Creek where he had filmed an episode of the KT Diaries a couple of years ago.

We were going to meet at Ron's house at 7am and then head out from there. I arrived early, (How on earth did that Happen?) and Ron had a bevy of breakfast tacos ready. As we packed up I shot a couple a pics of Ron's trophy room.....
This one was mainly baitcasting, spinning reels, and a few fly reels.....
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This one was full of Fly reels.....
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And then there are the bamboo flyrods.....
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To say Ron is a collector is a gross understatement !!!

With Alex in tow we headed for Boerne to pick up Ewell. Then on through Bandera and then onto a private retreat to access Hondo Creek. We geared up and showed off our weapons of choice for this bit of technical fishing on this crystal clear creek.
Alex, Ron and Ewell.....
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Now for the fun part. The water here is deeper than the rest of the creek because of 2 weirs. The water could not be any clearer and the Fish here are familiar with fishermen. This section of Hondo creek has some very Big Bass here. We are talking about creek fish over 8lbs. And just because 10lbers have been caught here, doesn't mean they are all monsters as Alex demonstarted.....
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Alex was fishing his ultra-ultra light spinning rod made from a TFO 6' 3wt with 3lb mono.

Ewell, Alex, and Ron fishing just below the upper weir.....
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Alex with a better Bass.....
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I was fishing the water below with a Boogle Bug. I had some lookers, but this is tough water for topwater poppers for some reason.
After about 20 minutes I had a good Bass crush the popper, it turned and snapped the tippet like it was nothing. That brand new popper sure didn't last long. Not a good start, but I put on another one and keep fishing. It was slow for me today for whatever the reason. I finally switched to a Cat's Whisker and started catching some Perch.....
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Bass were seen cruising around in the aquamarine water but they ignored much of what I had to offer. Alex, Ron, and Ewell were catching some, but not like in the past.

I decided to see what was above the weir.....
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The water impounded above the upper weir was real skinny. Years of sedimentation had filled in the creek above the weir and the water here was no longer a lake. I tried fishing some of the deeper pockets but the mud just sucked you down as soon as you stepped in the water. Still it's pretty to look at.....
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I moved back downstream, passed Ewell at the floating boat dock.....
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I saw Ron fishing in the bends after coming up from fishing the lower weir.....
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I walked on down and he showed me a sizable Bass he caught downstream. I started fishing the deep water here. Spots are 20' deep and even with split shot my fly was not getting deep enough. Still I managed and nice pounder, but as I was lifting from the water it shaked free.

I moved on down to the lower weir to fish the deep pocket just above the dam.
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There were a bunch of kids playing in the creek below the weir and a couple feeding the ducks on top. I started casting and had another on, put as it thrashed on the bottom, watching it's belly flashing white 5 feet down, the fly pulled free and shot out of the water and over my shoulder. Ron and Ewell came back down to join me. Ewell had a big bend in his rod almost immediately.....
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It was not what he had expected.....
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Ron had one on too in short order.....
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The kids had returned and I got a shot of Ewell getting the shot.....
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I went up the far bank. It was tough going with all the deep sediment. Deep water close to shore also required that I bushwack my way back and forth along the bank to move on down it.
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I caught some dinks, but finally found the right bite and landed a good one myself.....
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Today was one of those days for me. I believe everyone outfished me today.
Yeap, I'll admit it. There are times when I don't catch the most fish and today was one of those days.
We loaded up and headed back to Bandera where we stopped and had lunch at the Old Spanish Trail.
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It was as good as I remembered.....
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I should have taken pictures of the massive burgers and chicken fried steaks we devoured, but it was 2:30 and I was starving.

Jimbo
Last edited by Jimbo Roberts on Mon Oct 22, 2012 8:10 pm, edited 11 times in total.

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Ron Mc
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Hill Country Trump Card

Post by Ron Mc » Mon Oct 22, 2012 12:36 pm

Yes, that's just the cane - the plastic rods don't need that much care. (and I still get to point to Mick - he has more rods)
Not only was Jimbo early, he brought OJ.
I guess if there was fishing in my yard, though, Alex would have been the first one there.

And just to show you there are three sides to every fish story, and five sides if four guys are fishing, here's my post:

Hill Country Trump Card

I have a couple of places in my back pocket.
Private access to amazing water you never want to abuse, so maybe once a year, maybe every other year, make the phone call and gain access.
Last time was two years ago, when I played this trump card for filming a tv show - it was great.
Yesterday, I took three best friends back to this place - the hill country retreat of a tv preacher. My friend who gets us in produces his video, but couldn't make it, though he made the right calls and gave us the gate code - must make it up to him...

It's an impoundment on an aquifer recharge creek - the water percolates in and out of the limestone for many miles, and downstream from here it completely disappears, until it re-emerges in the coastal plain.
It's stocked with big, educated bass, and is some of the best sight-fishing I know of anywhere.
The top end of the impoundment is wadable on the flagstone, after you get through the quicksand around the banks.
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Alex was fishing XUL, extreme ultralight spinning gear built on a 3-wt. fly blank, and he was the first into big bass.
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The pod bass here are big - 3 to 5 lbs, and it's the little ones that are solitary. I guess I photographed my first fish of the day, but leaving a pair in the wading water and hiking down to the lower dam with Jimbo, I got into my first pod bass (along with several others), and my best fish of the day.
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I was fishing my canon for the long casts, a Japanese glass inshore para 6/7 with a Teeny sinking line.
When I hook up one of these pod bass, I always say "this one's got shoulders"
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she left with plenty of fight
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I think Jimbo had the toughest day and later would bust the far bank to finally find his pod bass - sorry I didn't get photos of it...
This place is a spiritual retreat - holy ground. Later in the morning, a gang of kids hiking the lower creek with one of the moms came up to watch us fish, just in time to see Ewell with a nice catfish.
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(I guess I did get Jimbo taking Ewell's photo)
and this was from Ewell's perspective
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And me doing what I do best - fishing with an audience
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never to disappoint - we let the kids release all the fish
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Ewell was fishing a gorgeous venerable Phillipson fiberglass rod, and, while it wouldn't have been my choice for this water, he made great use of it with long casts and big fish.
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Leaving Jimbo in the bushes, we headed back up to check on Alex's progress. Intrepid wading had put him in the spot Jimbo really wanted, and we watched Alex catch 9 big pod bass in a row, making him the star of the day.
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After this we hiked back to the lower dam to extricate Jimbo from his brush bust on the far bank, so we could go to lunch - we were all hearing the chicken fried steak call. Jimbo wanted just 5 more casts from the dam. He doesn't count fish the same way he counts casts, but that's OK, we all caught a few more before we left.

Watching Alex wet-wading that deep cold water, I don't need to catch fish that bad.
My photos of Alex were long zooms from the bank, cropped and filtered to bring them out of the haze
The great time with great friends was the best part, the kids were next, and the photos were next. The fish are gravy.
Ewell with his last fish of the day, sporting a smile big enough for all of us.
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Thanks for the thread, Jimbo. Your photos are awesome - you just can't get enough photos to show the beauty of this place, or the good time we had.
A great day on holy ground.
And we'll keep pressing Ewell about a Frio Sendero trip next spring.
Last edited by Ron Mc on Thu Nov 01, 2012 9:59 am, edited 2 times in total.
Ron Mc

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Ron Mc
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Re: Hondo Creek

Post by Ron Mc » Mon Oct 22, 2012 2:11 pm

technique-wise, the best ways to get the attention of these fish are bottom bouncing where you can get to the flagstone, and skimming the top of the vegetation. I've seen them go absolutely crazy for a mudball on the flagstone. I didn't wade long enough to try it, but a floating line with a cats whisker right on top of the grass beds might have been productive if I had found the pods.
Alex had the best rig for fishing vegetation. Throwing a tiny Creme worm on a jig hook with no extra weight, he could crawl his lure over the top of the grass without weeding out.

Dredging is my specialty, and prospecting the drops using long blind casts with a sinking line and cats whisker is right up my alley. Countdown sink and strip.
I'm trying to make the pod follow, which you can detect from one or two light sampling strikes. When you know you're on them, vary the retrieve until you can get one to bite in.

Where we were fishing on the lower dam, it was mostly a question of having something out there when the pods came cruising by.
Ron Mc

Jimbo Roberts
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Re: Hondo Creek

Post by Jimbo Roberts » Mon Oct 22, 2012 2:17 pm

Thanks for setting up the trip Ron. It was fun even if I was the low man on the totem pole.

Jimbo

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Ron Mc
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Re: Hondo Creek

Post by Ron Mc » Mon Oct 22, 2012 2:30 pm

now cut that out - we had a blast.

next time, you're driving
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Alex won't be able to keep up
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Last edited by Ron Mc on Mon Oct 22, 2012 3:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Ron Mc

Alex Argyros
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Re: Hondo Creek

Post by Alex Argyros » Mon Oct 22, 2012 2:32 pm

A great day indeed. Mainly due to the company, but the fish didn't hurt. Not to mention the natural beauty of the site. Man, but I love crystal clear water. Thanks, Ron.

Jimbo Roberts
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Location: San Antonio, TX

Re: Hondo Creek

Post by Jimbo Roberts » Mon Oct 22, 2012 8:21 pm

I'm sorry if I sounded like I didn't have fun and wouldn't do it again all over, because I certainly did and would. Let's go tomorrow!
I just didn't have my usual magic with rod and reel and I was just acknowledging the fact that I was soundly outfished. This doen't happen everyday and I was celebrating that fact that I am with such a fine group of anglers that if I wasn't fishing at my best it could happen and did. Next time it may be different.

Jimbo

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Ron Mc
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Re: Hondo Creek

Post by Ron Mc » Mon Oct 22, 2012 8:42 pm

Maybe you're listening too much to your own press. You were in pretty good company, and I can't think of a day when the results were ever different enough to be significant - including yesterday. You broke off your first good fish, you weren't geared to fish the deep water. Like me, you weren't interested in wading the cold water to your chest to pound the upper vegetation. I did what I knew already, you got out and explored, and it paid off a with big bass and great photos.

When Steve F. and I first stumbled onto the dries last spring, I had the wrong rod altogether - a streamer rocket - had to borrow a nylon leader from Steve, managed to land only one fish and miss a half-dozen including two break-offs, and got to embarrass myself in front of Lefty Ray. Next time we were all there together, I had the right rod and caught more on dries that day than anybody around, and that was in good company, too, Steve, Bruce and Floyd. But it's still never about the numbers - it's about the fishing, and it's always better with friends.
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I've watched Steve sight-fish rainbows in skinny water that I wouldn't be able to turn with trout candy, but I go down and read the next run and bang four or five in a row.
The whole time, Alex can stand on a garbage-can-size hole and tight-line nymph a half dozen fish without ever taking a step.
I'm sorry if I picked on you in my post - I try to pick on me, too. And we can always pick on Ewell's hat. :mrgreen:
or Alex's south Texas accent.

and Alex's Manhattan accent doesn't matter - he got naturalized real fast in the hill country.
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Last edited by Ron Mc on Tue Oct 23, 2012 9:06 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Jimbo Roberts
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Re: Hondo Creek

Post by Jimbo Roberts » Tue Oct 23, 2012 12:22 am

You're right of course.
It also my stubbornness when fishing poppers and hoppers, especially for Bass. I love topwater fishing of course like everyone else. And I can usually find some water and cooperative fish to gobble them down as you've seen me do in the past on our hill country rivers. So I tend to expect that success everytime I go out and stay with unsuccessful topwater fishing expecting it to pick up when I should really be changing to another technique. Bringing along a sinktip/sinking line would have made my choice easier though. But even around noon, with no Bass landed on poppers, I was still switching back to it for searching casts in new areas, ever the optimist. I guess the older I get the more set in my ways I have become. I need to start opening up my mind and listen to what the fish are telling me, instead of sticking out the topwater fishing beyond reason. Then again seeing a big one come up to inhale my bug goes a long way to re-enforce the time spent on that technique. I wish I'd landed that first fish! It left quite a hole in the surface.

Jimbo

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Ron Mc
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Re: Hondo Creek

Post by Ron Mc » Tue Oct 23, 2012 7:12 am

I dialed through all my group photos this morning, but I couldn't find it...
Do you remember the rhino butterfly plague?
We fished down from Center Point Lion's Park below the waterfall, and every little bass had a distended belly from gorging on the butterflies. Mikey was fishing a red popper that day and was slaying them on top. Though I still did pretty well in the chutes with my sinking rig.
Yesterday, there were a lot of butterflies, and certainly saw bass rising to them, but it seemed to be that slow flutter over the surface that brought the bass up.
Ron Mc

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