The Slab

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Jimbo Roberts
Posts: 1169
Joined: Fri Nov 08, 2002 8:26 am
Location: San Antonio, TX

The Slab

Post by Jimbo Roberts » Mon Jun 23, 2014 1:38 pm

I am getting ready for my annual summer trip to the Rockies. And these last few weeks I have been trying to get a little warm water fishing in before heading north. Chris Johnson talked about fishing the Llamo River between lakes Marble Falls and Inks in one of his seminars I attended last year. I went home and scoped it out on the map and then put it on my "to do" list. Well I finally got around to this past weekend.

It's a nice drive up Hwy 281. I really don't have many reasons to drive down this stretch of Texas anymore. The Hill Country really earns it's named here. Driving up through Blanco, Johnson City, and then turning west on 71 before the town of Marble Falls. It's about a 100 miles from San Antonio to the river, but my aunt used to live on Lake Marble Falls and I knew that it would be worth it just to see it again. Finally driving north on 307 you come over a hill and look down at a low water bridge covering about a 1/4 mile while crossing the Llano.....
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It's a really wide valley that the Llano runs down. Here there is granite as the bedrock and it's exposed everywhere. This is why it's called "The Slab". This area of Central Texas was once an area of extreme vulcanism. The eruptions ceased and this granite was formed as the magma chambers cooled below the surface. Thousands of years later this granite was exposed by erosion. For miles in every direction you see the granite outcroppings. Enchanted Rock is one of the biggest.

Here in the Llano valley you are either walking on sand or the granite itself. The river and sand can polish it's surface as smooth as any ball room floor and boy can it be slick, so let the wader beware !!! I bought a new pair of Simms wading boots for this summer's trip. Wading boots last about 2 years on my feet and these new boots use a new softer and tackier rubber sole. I would find out how good they are here wading over the granite. And let me tell you these were definitely better than my last pair.

I drove across the low water crossing scoping out the area. It was Saturday and many families and young couples were living it up, soaking, having a few beers, and floating the river around the bridge. I parked and geared up quickly. Heading upstream, the geologist in me could not help but look down at all this granite. Walking upstream I came across this......
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What you are looking at are big chunks of sedimentary rock in the granite itself. This was the leading edge of a magma intrusion into the surrounding sedimentary rock. The pressures were immense. The magma fractured and broke up the sedimentary rock on it's way to the surface. Here is the leading edge of that intrusion. It was happening so fast that the magma did not have time to melt and absorb the sedimentary chunks, started to cool leaving these big pieces suspended and surrounded by the forming granite. Very cool stuff!

Here is another feature you see in this area.....
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What you are looking at is a small silver mine. Yes.... for Real !!!!! Here after the granite cooled there was still enough heat and pressure in the magma below to fracture the solid granite. It pushed more streams of magma and super heated water carrying minerals with it through the cracks. As it cooled it left behind feldspar, quartz, and silver. The grey coloring you are looking at is silver suspended in that quartz. More on that later.

Now enough for the geology lesson, on to the fishing!
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I had my 690 XP in hand, a popper tied on, but wanted to get away from the bridge and all the people there.
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Those that know me know that I primarily fish topwaters, and I started with a medium chartreuse popper hoping to catch some Bass.
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Closer to the bridge the river was mainly confined to deep slots cut in the granite. Further upstream there were more pools connected by deep slots.....
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I was only catching Perch at first.....
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I was having a bunch of smaller perch come up on the popper, but the hook was too big for them to get in their mouth, so I switched to a smaller yellow foam popper/hopper I have come to favor. It worked great on middle Guadalupe last week and it would attract some attention here too.
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This would be average for the Bass today. Most were between 5-10". To tell you the truth I was expecting more bites. I tried just about everything on top: poppers, hoppers, foam spiders. Not getting as many bites as I expected I tried going down: wooly buggers, Cat's Whiskers, near enough damsels, clousers, but they were either not hungry or just not there. Like I said I'm not sure being my first trip here. I caught 1 Bass on a wooly bugger, 1 Perch on a Cat's Whisker, but it was not enough to keep fishing subsurface.
I went back to topwaters and fished them the rest of the day.

I kept looking upstream at new water.
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I kept getting what must have been very small Perch unsuccessfully try and suck the flys under and more small Bass.
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I tried some smaller topwaters and finally some medium sized Bluegills started staying hooked.....
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Being half explorer, half fisherman, I kept moving and fishing my way upstream rather quickly.....
I decided on the foam hopper and concentrate on fishing it, the switching flys and techniques was over. And it was going to work out well.
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Here you see another dome rising on the banks of the Llano. Much of the upper portion is still sedimentary with granite pushing it up from the bottom.
More beautiful if not large specimens.
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I was working my way into this larger pool.
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It had a shallow shelf on the far side about 1 foot deep. There where you can see the rocks sticking through the surface it dropped off into a deeper channel about 3-4 foot deep. I caught another small Bass right next to the exposed rocks.


A couple of casts later I was working the hopper straight downstream along the deeper edge. Then something exceptional happened.
I was working the popper/hopper with a fairly fast rhythm. About half-way back to me this Bass blasted out of the water porpoising down on the hopper. I struck and the flyline sliced through the water making a hissing sound as the Bass screamed away from me. It jumped... and jumped again. Big summersaulting Tarpon like jumps, half expecting the fish to fall on the tippet and break it. Short runs and more jumping, coming maybe 6 times totally out of the water. And then as the fight went on, tiring, and just sticking it's head through the surface, shaking it back and forth violently splashing water everywhere. This was a substantial Bass, I didn't know who would win this battle, and it had taken almost all the flyline. It dogged down to the bottom. The flyline pointing to it's location. I was hoping it didn't find a rock to swim around it. I was starting to gain some control and getting some line back. It took awhile but I was winning. Still would not come within my arm's reach, but at least now I worked it within 20 feet and I could see everything it was doing. He would go one way, I would drop my rod and pull perpendicular and back. It was a down and dirty game now. He would reverse and so would I. Each reversal I would gain a few feet of line. Now he was coming within a rod's length. Time not to horse him. I tried pulling him towards me, but he still had enough power to swim past and away again. A few more close approaches and finally it was close enough to reach down and grab his lower jaw..... Victory !!!!!!
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What a fish !!!
5 pounds Easy!! ! Probably 5 1/2 !!! Hard to tell, but I don't think 6. I brought my rod up and it was 21-22". I looked down to see where the fly was.
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I took a couple of quick pictures. They really didn't come out that great, but I wanted to get this beast back into the water. It had been a long fight, it was tired, and I didn't want to do any more harm. Also looking at the position of the fly it was dangerously close to it's gills. The hook was actually imbedded in the structure at the base of the gills. But certainly close enough to realize this is a prefect example of a fly that you would want to leave with the fish, just cut the tippet short, and release it back into the Llano.
What a Fish ! It was the biggest Bass I've landed on the flyrod in a long time.

I fished on through this pool
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and up into a even larger pool.
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More smaller Bass.....
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But no more fish bigger than 10". I was feeling the heat now even wading in the cool Llano. The breeze had stopped, it was at least 95, and the air was thick with humidity. I don't know which was wetter, my legs in the water or the shirt under my vest. I was more than a mile from the bridge and it was past 5pm. Time to think about fishing my way back downstream. I would take another hour rock hopping and fording through different spots. I caught some more small Bass like this Guadalupe along the way.....
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I had one more decent Bass, probably about 1 1/2lbs, flush the hopper but the hook didn't stick and it was off immediately.
In the end it was not too bad. I did land 16 Bass and about that many Perch.

The day was more than just a fish count, it was beautiful. Too bad the colors didn't pop in these pictures due to the overcast and the flat light.
These rocks had much more of feldspar pink, and iron oxide red than came through here.
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Lots of little bunches of these pink flowers growing in the sandy banks.....
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More slots of rushing water......
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More intrusions in the granite.....
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Strange looking bunches of sedimentary rock in the granite.....
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It almost looks like some strange Indian Petroglyphs.

Small fall sections in the river......
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And finally back to the low water crossing.....
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And an high winged, double pusher, ultralight came in low to see what was going on.....
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The sun finally peaked through just before it would set.....
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And it was time to go.

Another thing I like to do is stop at the historical markers along the roads. Smell the roses as the saying goes.
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Here is proof that silver exists around these parts. Legend says the Indians made a rich silver discovery here long before the white man entered this continent. They mined the silver and made it into jewelry. The Spanish and then the early Americans settled in Texas. Noone outside the Indians ever rediscovered that silver mine.
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The Indians were defeated and moved to reservations. That silver mine is still out there somewhere.
Today I had found another kind of treasure in the Llano among the pink granite they call "The Slab".

Jimbo
Last edited by Jimbo Roberts on Tue Jun 24, 2014 10:28 am, edited 1 time in total.

Alex Argyros
Posts: 372
Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2007 12:52 pm
Location: Austin

Re: The Slab

Post by Alex Argyros » Mon Jun 23, 2014 11:48 pm

That big bass is some fish. Congratulations. And the lesson about how to deal with a deeply hooked fish is a valuable one.

Jimbo Roberts
Posts: 1169
Joined: Fri Nov 08, 2002 8:26 am
Location: San Antonio, TX

Re: The Slab

Post by Jimbo Roberts » Tue Jun 24, 2014 10:36 am

Yeap, a Bass of that size is worth a hundred 10"ers. You want to do what you can for an older fish like that to survive.
5 Days and counting down to launch for Colorado, Wooo Hooooo.....

Jimbo

Texican
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Sep 26, 2013 11:00 am
Location: Houston

Re: The Slab

Post by Texican » Tue Jun 24, 2014 2:38 pm

Jimbo
You're a pretty good wordsmith.
Tight Lines,
Texican

becpa
Posts: 46
Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2002 9:28 am
Location: Kerrville, Texas

Re: The Slab

Post by becpa » Fri Jun 27, 2014 9:24 am

Nice report.

Bill

LabRat
Posts: 193
Joined: Tue Nov 22, 2005 8:44 pm
Location: Round Rock, TX
Contact:

Re: The Slab

Post by LabRat » Sat Jul 05, 2014 7:12 am

Jimbo we were staying at a lakehouse in Kingsland and saw that same airplane fly over the house. I was planning to fish the slab last week as well, but we were having so much fun with slab bluegill in the cove we were staying on that we fished it everyday instead..I was using that same yellow booglebug, but caught the most on the moss green version and also on a green foam spider
Mark Dillow

becpa
Posts: 46
Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2002 9:28 am
Location: Kerrville, Texas

Re: The Slab

Post by becpa » Sun Dec 20, 2015 9:06 am

I crossed this last week visiting relatives.

What is it like downstream?

Which is preferable?

Bill

Jimbo Roberts
Posts: 1169
Joined: Fri Nov 08, 2002 8:26 am
Location: San Antonio, TX

Re: The Slab

Post by Jimbo Roberts » Sun Dec 20, 2015 10:02 pm

You could probably fish both ways. I've only fished upstream.
It's probably just as good downstream assuming there is not dam backing up deep water downstream.
I would look at it on Google maps before going too far.

Jimbo

sgbaker
Posts: 100
Joined: Mon Jan 27, 2014 7:32 am
Location: Round Mountain, TX

Re: The Slab

Post by sgbaker » Mon Dec 21, 2015 8:41 am

Down stream is deeper water and deeper sand; not nearly as scenic as above. When the Llano is flowing strongly, white bass may come upstream to within 1/2 mile of the Slab. Walking and wading can be a bit tough due to the sand and vegetation. BE SURE TO LEAVE NO VALUABLES IS SIGHT WHEN YOU PARK. "Smash and Grabs" have happened.
Baker,
So much to learn, so little time

becpa
Posts: 46
Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2002 9:28 am
Location: Kerrville, Texas

Re: The Slab

Post by becpa » Thu Dec 24, 2015 6:49 pm

Thanks and

thanks for the heads up. I never think of those things this far west.

Bill

castell
Posts: 35
Joined: Sat Jan 13, 2007 7:09 pm
Location: TX & CO
Contact:

Re: The Slab

Post by castell » Tue Feb 16, 2016 12:39 pm

TPWD now has a lease access on the Llano at the Kingsland Slab. Learn More

sgbaker
Posts: 100
Joined: Mon Jan 27, 2014 7:32 am
Location: Round Mountain, TX

Re: The Slab

Post by sgbaker » Fri Feb 19, 2016 3:45 pm

I stopped by the RV site today just to check it out; the TPWD sign is at the entrance but the information bulletin holder was empty. There are 2, what appear to be, permanent travel trailers in the park; no one was in either one. The information bulletin at their check in site is the same as the "learn more" link above; no mention of daily fees. The park appears to be undergoing renovation; doesn't look like the aerials shown and no parking signs are up. I'm not sure where day parking should be; maybe soon. This is a good asset in my opinion because I think it will reduce the possibility of getting your vehicle broken into as opposed to parking off the road by the bridge. If I fish it soon and have any luck, I will post an update.

Semi-Related topic: Colorado Bend SP looks better than it has in a decade and folks are catching some small whites. I just went to check it out, didn't fish. There is a new pay kiosk at the entrance to the park but if you are going to camp, you may ignore it and proceed as in previous years.
Baker,
So much to learn, so little time

sgbaker
Posts: 100
Joined: Mon Jan 27, 2014 7:32 am
Location: Round Mountain, TX

Re: The Slab

Post by sgbaker » Fri Feb 19, 2016 3:45 pm

I stopped by the RV site today just to check it out; the TPWD sign is at the entrance but the information bulletin holder was empty. There are 2, what appear to be, permanent travel trailers in the park; no one was in either one. The information bulletin at their check in site is the same as the "learn more" link above; no mention of daily fees. The park appears to be undergoing renovation; doesn't look like the aerials shown and no parking signs are up. I'm not sure where day parking should be; maybe soon. This is a good asset in my opinion because I think it will reduce the possibility of getting your vehicle broken into as opposed to parking off the road by the bridge. If I fish it soon and have any luck, I will post an update.

Semi-Related topic: Colorado Bend SP looks better than it has in a decade and folks are catching some small whites. I just went to check it out, didn't fish. There is a new pay kiosk at the entrance to the park but if you are going to camp, you may ignore it and proceed as in previous years.
Baker,
So much to learn, so little time

sgbaker
Posts: 100
Joined: Mon Jan 27, 2014 7:32 am
Location: Round Mountain, TX

Re: The Slab

Post by sgbaker » Fri Feb 19, 2016 4:10 pm

Sorry about the duplicate, got some kind of "sql error" when submitting
Baker,
So much to learn, so little time

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