Getting ready for the Guad
As I began writing these articles the upper Colorado/Llano River Basins were devastated with slow, steady rain on already saturated grounds that funneled into the Llano and Colorado Rivers. Homes, boats, docks, and all manner of property was destroyed. The river raged through the Highland Lakes chain and into Austin, where water shortages were becoming rampant. Lake Travis filled to over 150% capacity overnight, beginning at a deficit of 85%. But such is life in the Texas Hill Country. As I have said many times before, it is feast or famine with the rain in the Hill Country. Floods break droughts, and the droughts give the flooding a pause. The loss of life and property can be unimaginable and heartbreaking. With the increase of population wanting to live on the waterfront and development too close to the watershed sometimes it can be devastating. The Highland Lakes dams were built to control the damaging and deadly floods caused by rain events such as these. The dams got a good workout last month, and so far have seemed to be doing their job well! It is hard to imagine what would have happened to cities like Austin, Marble Falls, or even Kingsland, had the dams to control the rampant flooding not been there.
So what does the upper Colorado basin flooding have to do with Guadalupe trout season? Nothing. However, the same steady rains that flooded the Llano and Highland Lakes also fell in the upper Guadalupe watershed. Although the rainfall totals were less than they were a few miles north, they were steady and are slowly bringing up the level of Canyon Lake. The lake was only a couple feet below the 909’msl conservation pool level. Although not as much rain fell as did on the Llano, the Guad caught enough to bring this level up slow and steady enough to not disturb the thermocline (bottom layer of the lake where our cold water is discharged for the lower river). It has been several years since we have seen a nice steady flow rate going into our stocking period and “trout season” here on the Guad. This year is shaping up to be another higher than average flow year, and that in turn means better fishing all the way down to the lower stretches of the stocked zones. It’s time to dig out the waders, brush off the 5 weight, and get your nymphing game on point. It’s Trout Time in Texas, y’all!
Before we go any further any further, I would be derelict to not mention anything about safety in the river with these possibly higher flows. GRTU, our local Trout Unlimited chapter’s website sums it up best so I have attached it here.
Wading Guidelines for the Guadalupe River
Wading in any moving body of water depends on the Experience, Knowledge and Judgment of the individual and the Risk that person is willing to assume.
Remember to wear and utilize safety gear such as: felt or studded wading boots, wading staff, wading belt drawn tight at the waist for waders, and inflatable pfd’s.
The general guidelines apply:
• Flows below 100 cubic feet per second (cfs) have slow current and the river is accessible to most anglers.
• Flows below 200 cfs have moderate current. A few areas may create fall down potential.
• Flows between 200 to 300 cfs can be undertaken by most experienced waders. There are still areas that may be too swift or deep to wade. Inexperienced waders will have to be aware.
• Flows between 300 to 550 cfs should be undertaken by only those who have experience wading swift water conditions. Preferably, you will have knowledge of the river bottom and would have local knowledge of the river previously. Much of the river will still be too swift and too deep to wade safely. The potential for being swept off your feet is high.
• Flows above 550 cfs are unsafe to wade.
Remember the Guadalupe is a fast flowing river. A fast current can be very deceiving and carry you down river.
Always be cautious and wise about the river and its hazards.
Stockings of trout have happened and more will continue in the next few months. Over the next few weeks I will be putting out more of these blog posts discussing several things you should know about fishing the Guadalupe. In my next article I will get down to rigging, and will start with basic nymphing. Future articles will be generalized and include topics of other trout catching rigs, fish fighting and handling tactics, river access and etiquette on a crowded river such as the Guad. In the meantime, know the flows, carry a wading staff, be safe and go catch some fish!