Texas on the Fly (Day 1 of 4) Guest Post by Tony Wheeler
A couple of springs ago I had a work conference down near Austin Texas. At the end of my work week my fishing partner for over 30 years, Okey from Parkersburg flew down to meet me for 3 days of chasing Texas Bass on the Fly.This time Okey had the work conference and I just showed up to fish.
My little niece who lives in Austin graciously offered to be my Airport Limo driver. She was quite the spectacle standing at the bottom of the escalator in luggage claim holding up a sign that read “Hook-em” (her nickname for me.). She was all decked out in her welcome to Austin outfit of cowgirl boots, blue jeans, and an Austin City Limits T-Shirt.As part of that welcome to Austin package she whisks me off in her Toyota Prius at damn near the speed of light to the famous Black’s BBQ in Lockhart, Texas.
Black’s is essentially the holy shine to carnivores everywhere. The smell of burning animal fat overlaid with the post-oak and pecan hardwood smoke made me want to tear off all my clothes and go running through the woods howling.I had the brisket with a couple of burnt ends, the extra spicy smoked sausage, pork spare ribs, and some of my niece’s smoked turkey. Everything was great however the brisket was extra special. The brisket really transcends metaphors, (maybe meat orgasms in my mouth is the best I can do!)
With a distended belly and a serious case of the meat sweats I am dropped off at Lost Pine Resorts near Bastrop, Texas (the site of Okey’s work conference.)
The next morning Okey’s work week is over before noon, so for $80 we rent a canoe with a shuttle for a six mile paddle on the Colorado River from Bastrop River Company.
I absolutely love paddling a canoe although they are not the best craft suited for fly casting. Okey and I made the best of it and we took turns steering from the back while the guy up-front cast my L.L. Bean 7 weight armed sometimes with poppers and sometimes with streamers.
The Colorado River rises up in in New Mexico and then flows some 900 miles across Texas all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. It is considered to be in the top 5 bass rivers in the U.S. It flows essentially clear over a gravel and sand bottom with high clay and limestone bluffs lined with huge old oaks, Cyprus trees, and prickly pear cactus. Great Blue Herons, snowy egrets, red tailed hawks, ospreys, and giant fox squirrels are everywhere.
The skies were cloudless and the sun was directly overhead. In hind sight it was probably not the best time to be starting a bass river trip.
The fishing was tough, and the Colorado was not living up to its reputation. We make lots of fishless casts without a bump. Several fishless hours pass, and I start worry that we didn’t pack enough beer.
I sink a chartreuse Clouser minnow alongside a brush pile just like the hundreds of other brush piles we had already cast to. Suddenly some unknown, unseen river monster clamps down on my Clouser and with unstoppable power turns and rushes back under its brush pile breaking me off in the process. I am shaken and disappointed with the encounter. I can’t imagine it was a bass (at least I hope not), a big channel cat or their local drum called a Gasper Goo perhaps.
Finally along a rocky shady bank I boat four of those beautifully marked chunky Guadalupe Bass in almost five casts. Thinking the bite has suddenly changed we trade places and Okey gets one more before the take out.
I put that first down as warmup. Our spirits are still high.
We end our first day of fishing back in Austin at a great Mexican Restaurant with our plates piled high with fajitas, a super Grande margarita a-piece on the rocks and a really attractive Mexican waitress who must remove her jeans each night with paint thinner.