If you’re going farther than the grocery store, be sure to take two things: your fly gear and a copy of the new Flyfisher’s Guide to Texas. Just about anywhere you go in Texas, this book will point the way to the nearest fly fishing.This encyclopedic Guide published by Wilderness Adventures Press of Belgrade, MT is authored by Houstonian Phil H. Shook, a nationally recognized fly fishing writer and instructor. What he doesn’t know about the 5,363 square miles of Texas waters, he finds out from locals who do.
Many GRTU members probably already have dog-eared copies of Fly Fishing the Texas Coast: Backcountry Flats to Bluewater (Pruett Publishing Co., Boulder, CO, 1999) on their shelves, which Shook produced with Chuck Scates and David Sams, so they’ll know what to expect. The Guide is the freshwater companion piece, though from a different publisher.
The book divides the state into seven regions: Panhandle Plains, Prairies and Lakes, Pineywoods, Gulf Coast, South Texas Plains, Hill Country, and Big Bend, which requires the fewest pages. Each section lists rivers, lakes, state park waters, urban options (including Houston’s concrete-lined bayous), and private waters and includes some information on accommodations, restaurants, sporting goods stores, and services in each region’s hub cities.
Entries for each body of water typically give some idea of what to expect in terms of size, water quality, depth, shoreline, fish species, access, boating regulations, seasonal factors, and even alligator warnings. Waters with better-than-average fly fishing potential get more coverage (26 pages on the Guadalupe) and those that are not so promising get just the basics and what you really need to know, e.g., “. . . sandy brown water can be a challenge . . . scenic but challenging . . .” There are over 120 maps to show the way.
The only part of the Guide that’s a bit disappointing is the section in the back on “Texas Fly Patterns.” It needs more photos of the flies discussed or, at least, more detailed recipes to give an idea of what the result is supposed to be. But that’s a small complaint. The Guide delivers in full measure what it promises. You may know of some secret waters that aren’t in the book, but it does an excellent job of letting you know where you can sneak off to when you have to make the inevitable visits to the in-laws.
If your favorite fly shop doesn’t have the Guide yet, try the publisher’s website: www.wildadv.com. The Texas Guide is one of a series of 12 state guides and one of 2,500 titles.