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Texas on the Fly (Day 4 of 4) …….. Guest Post by Tony Wheeler

Day 4 started back under the Utley Bridge.  It was beautiful morning, no wind and a stable air mass.  It is a nippy 39 oF, but the sun is warming things up quick.  Everyone’s expectations for the day were high.

This time we did the 15 mile downstream run to the fisherman’s access in Bastrop.

While Okey and Alvin set our shuttle I get to hang out in the boat and sip my coffee, while watching the sunrise, and the baitfish nipping at midges.  Across the river a whole pack of coyotes were announcing their shift change.  Say what you want I think coyotes are cool.

When we finally get started I tag a nice largemouth right away.  Okey follows up with a really nice Guadalupe.  Then despite what the weatherman promised the pressure changed again and the breeze turns into another blow, and the freaking bass bite shuts off again.

We worked hard for every bass that we boated.

In the afternoon yet again I hook another unknown, unseen sea monster.  The creature clamps down on my crawfish pattern, and then ran like heck to the bushes.  This time I was prepared with 0X tippet and triple checked knots.  I palm my reel trying to slow this beast down, and this time the hook just popped out. 

Let me tell you boys’ and girls’ sea monsters do exist and they live in the Colorado River in Texas.

So I guess in summary over 4 days of fishing in 3 different water crafts, we made a whole lot of fly casts, battling 4 days of bass unfriendly high pressure systems  Despite which we still caught some bass – smallmouth, largemouth, and their native Guadalupe. 

We saw some incredible river scenery which is a lot different than what we have but still sort of familiar.  There was a lot of wildlife -- deer, fox squirrels, red tailed hawks, ospreys, bald eagles, herons, egrets, and a lot of other water fowl.  Oh and there were turtles too, tens of thousands of turtles.

And we ate some great BBQ, (a whole lot of BBQ.)

If you like to fish for smallmouth bass you will absolutely go nuts over Guadalupe’s.  They don’t get very big but they are a flowing water river bass similar in body shape and attitude to our smallmouth, except with a different paint job. It might be blasphemy to say but I think they fight harder too.

 In fact Guads are so close to smallmouth they will naturally hybridize, and the introduced non-native smallmouth bass genes are dominate.  A while back it was pretty much thought that the Guadalupe’s were on their way to being lost.  Texans feel the same way about their Guadalupe’s as we do about our native brook trout.  The State of Texas has done a good job bringing Guadalupe’s back from the brink.

What is even crazier still is that that the largemouth bass are native too.  Largemouth and Guads evolved to share the river, and they don’t hybridize.  Figure that one out?

When it comes right down to it the rivers in the Texas Hill Country offer some great bass fishing from little spring creeks to the much bigger Colorado River.  Throw in some striped bass, white bass, and a host of other strange warm water critters that will eat your fly and Austin is quite the warm water fly-fishing destination.

Compared to West Virginia standards, Austin is a really big city that is still rapidly growing with prosperity.  Everybody wants to live there.

It has this funky mixture of cowboys and hipsters. There is something going on music wise every single night of the year. 

Their traffic is horrendous, with the most courteous drivers I have ever seen.

Everyone must run their own BBQ, as you smell intoxicating hardwood smoke and grilling meat everywhere you go.  I think BBQ must fuel the soul of Austin.

Their catch phrase, “Keep Austin Weird” is kind of true.

I saw two guys dressed as super heroes riding their bicycles covered in white twinkling lights through the traffic on South Congress Street.  Now that might have had something to do with being close to Halloween, then again it might have been their regular commute to work outfits.

Yeah Austin is sort of like that.  And I kind of want to go back….

Jet Sled version 2 second edition


how to park a let sled on the river

So here it is.  I’m actually glad my laziness got the better of me as I’ll be able to do this in one sitting versus boring you all to tears with each individual step.  I assumed this would take much longer than it did.

First picture of my new boat.  About 30 seconds later my wife was informed of our new purchase. 

After a bunch of research I decided on a SeaArk 1652 MVT (tunneled hull version).  16’ seemed about the right amount of boat, length wise and the wider the better.  The decision to go with SeaArk was made after talking to several smaller boat builders in the Midwest, as they all seemed to, at some point in the conversation compare their boats to SeaArks in build, materials, etc.  Alvin and JD had already made a couple trips to Currant River Marine (CRM) and under their advice I called Freddy to see what he had available.  Long story short I was soon on my way to Currant River Marine in Doniphan, MO with my engine in the back of the Xterra.  After a 16 hour drive they hung the engine, we ran the Currant River for a few minutes, and I signed some paperwork.  By 5pm I was checked in to a cheap hotel ready to get a zero dark thirty start for the 16 hours back to Austin.  

Freddy and the gang were worth every minute of the drive and their knowledge of lower-unit-less engines and boats is beyond awesome.  I look forward to my return for a new engine.

Like I said in the previous post, I was going to do the exact same thing to this boat that I had done to the blue one.  The SeaArk had a slight V in the Hull and I decided that needed to be addressed first.  I had 4”x 4” 90 degree angle aluminium welded into the ribs to create a flat surface to build the flooring on.  The flooring was Cedar planks that I sanded, epoxied, sanded, epoxied, sanded, epoxied and then sanded one more time with a final coat of spar varnish for the UV protection.  I love wooden boats.  My grandfather used to build them.  I couldn’t not have the wood floors again, however, they are a huge pain in the ass to fit.  I’m a huge fan of brute force and ignorance and in my diving days solved many problems with the idea that if a hammer wasn’t working a bigger one would.  Fortunately, I was able to use the same tools my grandfather had used in his boat building; unfortunately his knowledge and experience did not magically pass through the tools as I had hoped it would.  He died many years ago and I thought of him a lot while using them mostly during my many moments of frustration in not being able to beat the wood into submission with a larger hammer.  The floors look great, however I can see every moment of frustration when my patience (or lack thereof) got the better of me.  Guests don’t seem to mind.

Supervision a year later...

 

Once the side pieces were cut and fitted to the ribs of the boat the rest went pretty quickly.  I also can’t help but to think of my daughter, Poppy, who supervised the last boat, she was only a few months old and was pretty easy to occupy.  She’s now almost 2 and has ZERO ability to sit and keep my company.

So that’s the floors.  I was, at first, going to do lean bars and knee braces however after the first couple trips I’ve found out they aren’t really needed.  It’s my opinion that maybe they create a false since of security for the anglers and without them my clients seem to have a better awareness of themselves and their movements while in the boat as long as I communicate my intentions while on the oars which is better for a lot of reasons.  Speaking of the oars, I also didn’t have to create the “frame” like I had before.  Oar locks u-bolt directly to the gunwales, which I need to move about a foot forward (boat forward) to give the front guy a little more room.

I, of course, have a laundry list of things to do still with rod holders being the first and some sea deck type stuff for the front casting platform (it gets hot) but since the boat was new there was no need to paint and do all that other nonsense that kept me so busy on the last project.  Having the blue boat in my past made doing this boat so much easier, mainly because it was new…

Please contact me with any questions that I most likely did not answer.  Alvin, JD and I would be more than happy to share what we’ve learned.  We all run different rigs each having their own pros and cons.

Enjoy,

 

AWG