January Bass on the Colorado River: Fly Fishing Between Polar Vor-texas
Temperatures in the Texas Hill Country has been hot and cold—the Webster definition of polar extremes—with temperatures ranging from 20° to 80°. Fortunately, these “hot and cold” winter weather patterns are what make winter fly fishing in Texas so awesome. When it’s cold we fish for trout on the Guadalupe River and when it’s hot we head over to the Colorado River to fish for bass—Largemouths, white bass, and or course our native Guadalupe Bass (my personal favorite).
This January on the Colorado River has been by far the single best month of winter bass fishing we (All Water Guides) have seen in the last decade. All of the conditions have been perfect. Let me explain why this month has been so good. First, water quality, the flows have been low and clear after late fall flooding cleared the river of historically high levels of invasive aquatic vegetation. The Colorado went from a hot and choked river to a cool and clear river. Second, with the loss of aquatic vegetation, bait fish and crawfish have lost all of their hiding places and are forced to seek refuge along bank structure—mainly cypress roots, dead-falls and cut banks. The bass are hugging the banks taking advantage of this “bonanza” of food easy for the taking. The final equation is the pattern of how cold fronts have hit the area. We have experienced fronts that bring extremely cold weather for two to four days (pattern-A) followed by unseasonably warm weather for two to four days (pattern-B).
With pattern-A water temperatures drop to the low 50’s and bass metabolisms slow down, which totally shuts down feeding. With pattern-B water temperatures rise to the low to mid 60’s and bass metabolism speeds up, this increases feeding and when we say feeding we mean BINGE-FEEDING! Timing is essential and when we hit the river on pattern-B days the bass fishing on the fly can be GREAT!
Primary fly patterns that are producing have been heavy weighted Clouser Minnows (chartreuse/white) and crawfish imitations (orange/brown) with heavy mono weed guards fished slow around bank structure. Placement and presentation is all important—cast that are slightly off the mark result in flies that are to far out of the narrow “strike range” of winter bass. Clients that place their cast in tight to structure and work their flies slow and deep are reaping the rewards of quality winter bass on the Colorado River.
The fishing should continue to only get better in February as pre-spawn female bass laden with eggs go into hyper feeding mode. February is now here, the bass are big, conditions are right, and we are booking up fast.
Set. Play. Net. Click. Release.