Recently I was invited to explore the Colorado River south of Austin with a friend who happens to have a fly shop, raft and a guiding business. So I made the arrangements to take the day off from work. Although I have lived in the Austin area for the better part of three decades, I had never floated or fished this section. Then again, I haven’t met Willie yet nor have I spun around under the Zilker Park Christmas tree until I was dizzy. You have to pace yourself right?
Then I stopped into the fly shop and discovered that our plans for a Wednesday float had been hijacked by a bachelor party for my friend’s brother…could we move it to Friday? After some conversations with my new boss, I was indeed allowed to change my day off. It would be a great way to ease into the weekend.
Then I got a call a few days later saying the bachelor party was off, and could we move the float back to the original Wednesday so my friend could accommodate a paying guide gig on Friday? Another call to my boss, and we were back on for Wednesday (I have a good boss!).
The flow on the lower Colorado is determined by releases from Longhorn Dam in Austin.
The guidance offered in Fly Fishing the Texas Hill Country by contributor and guide Clint Jackson recommends checking the timing of the releases from the dam and fishing low water. “Fishing during high water is not very productive, so timing your trip to hit falling water is critical.” Naturally being star-crossed anglers that means that we fished during high water because that was when we could go.
Being that I was the only angler (my friend was using this as a scouting trip for future guide trips), I got the front of the boat and was soon tossing poppers at the banks. We had a quick hookup within ten minutes, then the fish mostly went silent as the curse of high water proved Clint’s point.
Finding shade and pounding the banks was the order of the day. Lots of overhanging branches made for some interesting casting situations. The water was off color due to the releases from the dam.
As the day wore on and the flows slowed, the catching became more consistent. We boated a good number of Largemouth Bass, but the real prize was that the Guadalupe Bass outnumbered them by about 2 to 1
One of the Guads apparently was really hungry, crashing my popper when his mouth was already full. Cicada anyone?
The other cool moment was boating my first Spotted Gar after sight casting a streamer to him. His first run was vertical and he nearly landed in the boat. We had some trouble with the net so the picture quality isn’t great…
The three biggest fish of the day I missed, either from yanking the fly out of their mouths due to the shock of a huge blowup, or perhaps waiting too long to set the hook. Maybe the fish just missed the fly. Whatever the cause, we know there are some big fish there waiting for a return trip.
And so am I.