Post-Flood Wading Warning
Two unwanted items the flood brought, in addition to a huge amount of water, were debris and bacterial contamination. The contamination is worst from Greune downstream, but the entire river was posted as a precaution. The upper watershed, the dam, and the trout section below the dam are about as safe as normal. OK for fishing, but don't drink the water!
The debris in the river, however, is matter for caution in the new season. The floating debris problem is largely over, but continuing clean-up still means that it's worth keeping an eye out for logs, lumber, and branches while fishing.
The bigger concern is debris that may have lodged in the bottom—particularly in limestone cuts, at the base of riffles, and in the bottoms of pools. Take a little more time to scope the water you wade this season. Your old haunts have probably changed a bit, and they may now contain snags that are just waiting for the unsuspecting angler. The good news is that if you see them first and plan your approach they probably harbor fish!
Early Season Tips
The Guadalupe is known as a small fly stream for most of the year, meaning that a size 14 nymph tied on a long shank hook (like a Mustad 3906B) is a large fly.
The exception to this is the early season from November to January. Many of the fish in the river are newly stocked, and they tend to quickly fall for the larger offerings. Also, the active insects at this time of year are larger (size 14 and 16 mayflies and caddis), the minnow populations are good, and the leeches are still active, so even the holdovers are going for the bigger offerings.
After the first few hard freezes this will change, and the average fly size needs to be adjusted accordingly. This is also the time of year when action in a nymph retrieve and faster streamer retrieves can pay big dividends. In a warm year like this one, the early season can also bring some decent dry fly fishing, and it’s one of the few times that a size 14 or 16 dry fly can make the day if water levels aren't high.
For high water, a common condition at this time of year, increase the size and weight of your streamers and fish hard against the bank.
Trout tend to bunch up at this time of year - if you find one, stay where you are! Newly stocked fish, particularly those stocked by the state in large single-site drops, tend to stay together in groups until they acclimate.
If you see a large pod of stockers, have some fun with them, but when you are done, wade through them. These fish need some encouragement to scatter. Just the opposite is true of the holdovers—they tend to stay away form the pods of stockers and will fight to keep prime lies.
P.S. When you get back from your trip, post a note on the GRTU web site and let other people know how you did. Even a negative report is helpful information to the person planning a trip.
Alan Bray, GRTU Past President