Despite the recent cold and rain we have still managed to catch some nice bass on the Colorado River. It has not been fast and furious but good enough to keep us interested. We have been catching some quality fish as well. Winter is one of the best times to catch some of the biggest fish in the river. The current state record Guadalupe Bass was caught in the Colorado River in February a couple of years ago. As temperatures continue to cool, watching the weather will be important when planning to fish the Colorado River. After several warm days fishing should be pretty good. The slowest fishing will be right after a strong cold front.
I got out on the Guadalupe River the other day with Chris Jackson AWG guide and owner of The Action Angler. I hadn't been on the Guadalupe River since before the big rains this fall and I was curious to see how things were looking. I was also wanting to catch a few of the striped bass that had ended up in the river after the high flows coming from Canyon Lake. Flows were just under 1,000 cubic feet per second and the water still had a green tint to it but had a couple feet of visibility. It was great to see the Guadalupe with some water in it after so many years of drought. Chris and I were both just happy to be able to row the boat and not have to get out and drag it through the shallows. The fishing was good as well. We caught a handful of nice stripers and even got a really nice smallmouth as a bonus fish. We also saw quite a bit of flood adamage that was a real strong reminder of what the the power of water can do. At the moment it looks like the high flows will continue for a while. The river is definitely not wadable at this level. The good thing is that all the fish in the river tend to do a lot better at higher water levels. This winter should be one of the best trout seasons we have had in years, and the warmwater fishing should be good until the trout get going.
It has been a long time. We used to fish the Llano almost weekly during the fall, spring and early summer. The drought has made it really hard to float the last few years. Recent rains in the hill country have brought the water level in the Llano to near normal flows for a few days here and there before they get too low again. The tricky part is timing your trip. Go too early and the water will still be high and off color. Wait too long and you end up dragging more than floating. Ron Linehan and I had a trip booked on Wednesday. I was watching the river flow gauge at Mason and it looked like we might have perfect flows for our trip. I drove out to the take a look at the clarity and we ended up going on Thursday instead. Fishing was slow in the morning , but things started to get going after lunch. We did get a few fish on top but the most productive patterns were weighted wooly buggers in a few different colors. We did have to drag the boat in a few spots, but all in all it was a pretty good float. For now at least, the Llano seems to be holding at a little below normal. Additional rains this fall could keep flows up through the rest of the season.
Good fishing this morning on the San Marcos River near Martindale. The San Marcos is flowing at close to 300 cfs and the water is slightly off color. Clouser minnows fished deep were the most productive pattern. Fishing was best early in the morning and should continue to improve as temperatures cool in the next few weeks.
Shea, JTVZ and Winston have been holding down the fort here in Central Texas while Alvin and Chris are guiding in Colorado again for the summer. JD, who I loving/not so loving only refer to as a bum now, is driving south from bumville where he’s been bumming it up for the last 6 or 7 weeks being, well…a bum!
JTVZ recently finished another Texas Water Safari placing 4 th in his ultimate 2man group and as the 100-degree weather sets in both Shea and Winston will be heading to Colorado with their families.
Summer time on the fly in Central Texas has been weird. As you all know we had some major flooding in Central Texas and the fishing on the Lower Colorado River has been totally bipolar. I've joked about this a lot with clients saying I'd love to buy rail car quantities of Prozac and dump it in the river to stabilize the mood of these fish. We’ve experienced days where we couldn't buy a fish and the extreme opposite where we couldn't not catch fish. Frustrating to say the least because there is absolutely no rhyme or reason to it.
For really good reasons or none at all, the clarity on the river seems to have been poor all summer. For those who fish with us regularly during this time of year you know the boat rides up river are… run…clear the jet intake…run…clear…run and clear. In years past by this time fly selection was a no brainier, you tie on a big popper and you fish the poor thing till it literally falls apart. This summer it's been different. I've had all my success on big ugly, no fun to cast, bottom dredging, school bus size flies. With the Memorial Day floods, the river was scoured and the banks have all been changed. Although the boat rides up river are a breeze now all that vegetation that is gone (and I'm just speculating here) have put the fish deep without out any cover to sneak up into. We’ve really had to focus on relearning the river as it’s changed so much which is fun but, here is that word again, frustrating. I've only fished the surface with poppers when we are in the “Throw The Kitchen Sink” at them mode. The silver lining to the frustrating fishing this summer is this: while were we're not catching lots of fish we are catching big fish. It seems on the days that for no good reasons the fish cooperate it’s the big ones that come out to play. Shea and Winston recently did a halfday trip where two 7lb Largemouth were landed along with a handful of 3 and 4 pounders. Also, while fishing with a buddy, Winston put a fish in the boat that probably went 10 pounds and rekindled the “I wonder when someone is going to land the big one” conversation.
The summer thus far has been pretty mild (relatively, it is Central Texas after all) but the 100-degree days are upon us it seems. One thing I've noticed that has made a difference in the "successfulness" of a day (half days to be honest) is the clients that arrive well dressed for the heat seem to do have better days as they don't get fatigued by the heat as quickly. The next silver lining to this "it ain't been great" fishing report is that winter is coming. This fall should be really special on the Lower Colorado River. We've got a lot of lakes up river that are fuller than they have been in years and with that we hope will come lots of cool clear water. We've been waiting years for this and we all feel the fish are as optimistic as we are. So book a trip, dress for success and get comfortable with fishing low and slow, and know that the next strip could be a 10pound river bass.
See you on the water and as always THANK YOU! All Water Guides has become something that we are all proud as hell to be a part of and we couldn’t do it without you all.
All water guides.
P.S. JD, you're a bum.
Springtime is always a welcome in the Texas Hill Country — the sites, the sounds, and of course the great fishing. This spring is no different except for the rain that has started to put a dent in this horrible drought that won’t loosen her grip. With the rain have come better flows or as I like to say, “new water” which seems to awaken the fish along with the rivers. Unfortunately, sometime this “new water” takes time to clear up before the fish think about eating streamers. This cycle of good fishing, rain, muddy water, and waiting has taught us to be resourceful and patient.
That resourcefulness paid off because we were able to to incorporate three rivers and three species of fish into three weeks of awesome fishing. While the rains took the Lower Colorado River (LCR) out of commission we focused on species number one: rainbow trout on the Guadalupe River.
The Guadalupe River to fish well with good catches on midge patterns and sucker spawns. The fishing pressure is down so the fish are eating well and in great shape. On weekends we are starting to see the annual “tuber hatch” so planning a trip during the week is the way to go. And if catching trout on the fly isn’t your thing than species number two might interest you: the annual Llano River white bass run is on for the next two to three weeks.
So far, every trip to the Llano River has resulted in clients catching double digits of white bass on Clouser Minnows and other assorted minnow patterns. The white bass are leaving the deeper waters of the lower Llano at the mouth of the Colorado River and working their way up to the more wadeable waters upstream. After a rainy start to our March the LCR had cleared up and we were concentrating on species number three: LCR Bass—largemouth and Guadalupe bass.
The fishing has been really good on the LCR and we are enjoying fishing with out of town guests visiting Austin for SXSW and spring break. Though the subsurface bite has been good, we are starting to catch increasing numbers of nice bass on top. The big producer on top has been Cohen deer hair divers (www.rusuperfly.com) and assorted foam popper patterns. March and April are two of the best months for fishing the Lower Colorado. We have already caught several largemouth bass over 6 pounds and a near state record Guadalupe Bass.
There is no doubt what winter has come to Central Texas. When the mercury drops and the wind blows us fishermen are in serious danger from a case of cabin fever. Fortunately for us we have a some great options this time of year to get out and catch a few fish.
The Guadalupe river is the first spot that comes to mind this time of year. The Guadalupe River below Canyon Lake is stocked with Rainbow Trout every winter. Texas Parks and Wildlife and Guadalupe River Trout Unlimited both stock the river from November through February. Most of the fish stocked by TPWD will be in the 8" to 12" range. GRTU stocks larger fish, sometimes up to 20" and larger. The banks of the Guadalupe River are mostly, but there are quite a few access points for wading anglers or those wanting to launch a boat. Rio Guadalupe Resort, Lazy L & L Campground and The Action Angler are a few of my favorites. The nice thing about the Guadalupe this time of year is that no matter how cold and wet it gets you can still fish. The trout are usually more active when the weather is bad and the fishing pressure will be a lot less. Check out some recent photos below.
If you are looking for some solitude, the Colorado River is the place to be. Bass fishing on the Colorado River is a year round proposition. After a few warm mid winter days the bass will be on the move and feeding. The nice thing about winter fishing on the Colorado is the chance to catch some really big fish. The new world record Guadalupe Bass was caught in the Colorado River in February of 2014. Several Guadalupe Bass over 3 pounds have been caught so far this winter. We have caught some really nice large mouth bass as well. The trick is keeping an eye on the weather. Fishing will be best after several days in the 60s. Fishing will be slowest right after a cold front moves through the area. While there are miles and miles of great water on the Colorado River, access is limited for paddle craft and wading anglers. The easiest place to access the Colorado River is at Little Webberville Park. Cooks Canoes rents canoes and runs a shuttle service. Some recent Colorado River photos below.
Of course we are doing full day and half day trips all winter on both the Guadalupe and the Colorado. Drop us a line if you have any questions or if you want to book a guided trip.
Today we did a 4 boat trip on the Guadalupe River with the guys from MGC Contractors. It was cold and cloudy for most of the day, but the fishing was good so we didn't really notice. Most of the guys had never fished the Guadalupe before but everyone did a great job on the water. We caught quite a few nice rainbow trout up to 17 inches. The most productive patterns were San Juan Worms and various attractor nymphs.
Fall has arrived in Central Texas and with it comes some of the best weather and fishing of the year. After a long hot summer, fall always gets us fishermen in a frisky mood. Luckily for us the fish feel the same way!
Cooler water temperatures mean some great bass fishing on the Colorado River below Austin. Right now the Colorado is cool and clear and after recent rains we have had good flows all fall that will most likely last into the winter. We are fishing close to 100 miles of the river and most of these sections of the river see very little fishing pressure.
The Colorado River is home to some of the largest river bass in the state. Catches of Largemouth Bass over 5 pounds are not uncommon. As water temperatures continue to fall, the numbers of Largemouth Bass caught will decline. At the same time the average size will increase. This time of year the best tactic for Largemouth bass is fishing slow and deep with big streamers or crawfish patterns.
The Colorado is now hands down the best place to catch large Guadalupe bass. Last winter one of our clients caught the new state and world record Guadalupe Bass on the Colorado River. Fall and winter are one of the best times to catch a huge Guadalupe Bass. The same flies and techniques used this time of year for Largemouth Bass will work for the Guadalupe Bass. The Guadalupe Bass will usually be found in the faster moving sections of the river with more moving water while the Largemouth Bass prefer the slower water.
Check out some recent pics of the action on the Colorado River.
Well now that the boss is back from Vail I think it’s a good time to update the fishing report.
The dog days are upon us here in Central Texas and the fishing has been tough. With the summer heat comes warmer water, lower Do2 (dissolved oxygen) and lots and lots of vegetation. The fish get lazy. As it goes when its this hot we tend to do a little more fishing and less guiding. We’ve been sticking (or trying to at least) to half days having the best fishing right at sunrise. That said, it’s been really inconsistent as to when the fishing is good. I recently spent the afternoon with a friend for what was going to be more of a boat ride than a fishing trip as we both were locked in to other stuff till about 11 o’clock. What we thought was the absolute worst time to be fishing turned out to be a pretty productive mid day fishing trip instead of just a boat ride.
We’ve been spending our time on the San Marcos River and the Lower Colorado River as well as some of the local lakes. The Lakes have been productive for us and are a great “plan b”, when the LCR doesn’t look all that great because of the wonky flows and water clarity that is seen this time of year.
We’ve also been all over the map on what’s been working. Surface and subsurface have both paid off without rhyme or reason. Needless to say we’re all looking forward to what’s just around the corner. We had an unbelievable fall last year and we don’t see any reason why this fall should be any different so book a trip now as were already filling up November.
So, in a nut shell, It’s tough out there but we’re still catching fish.
See ya on the water!
After a February filled with record fish and many days log on the oars this spring has been a blur and we’re not entirely sure where March and April went. Frankly after a colder than usual start to spring we were all happy to see warmer weather and warmer water and the fish must have felt the same way! Late March and early April is usually split into very different patterns with prespawn, spawn and post-spawn conditions affecting the way bass act and feed. This spring was no different with our guides fishing over 40 miles of the LCR we saw all three conditions as indicated below:
March was pre-spawn = large female bass full of eggs
Late March and early April was all about the spawn = fewer fish
April is still in post-spawn = good numbers of bass of all sizes
The last few weeks have proved to be very busy and very productive for All Water Guides. Alvin, Shea, Winston, and Jeff were all out on the Colorado River working and the fishing was pretty darn fantastic. The river has been on a steady clearing pattern after recent rains and this combined with increased flows and warm weather has put the bass in the mood to eat.
Our clients are catching plenty largemouths and Guadalupe bass with several clients catching their personal best. The one common thread was that every guide and guest remarked on the quantity and quality fish coming to the net.
We started our Spring throwing crawfish patterns and classic streamers like Clouser Minnows and weighted leachs, which always seem to work well. Lately though it’s been all about poppers and big deer hair divers. This week in particular was a turning point in that almost all the fish were caught on top—just the way we like it! This great fishing should continue through the end of April and into May and June. Recent news from LCRA seems to indicate that we will have good flows throughout the Summer—YEAHHHH!.
We always enjoy spending time with all of our guests—new and old—and are looking forward to an action-packed late spring and early Summer. We appreciate each and every trip and cherish the time spent with our loyal anglers. If you ever wondered what our clients have to say spend some time reading their insightful comments on our testimonials link. Even better, if you have fished with us, please take the time and write us a review.
Thanks again from AWG!
The fishing has been steady on the Lower Colorado River all month. We are enjoying fishing with out of town guests visiting Austin for SXSW and spring break. Though the subsurface bite has been good, we are starting to catch increasing numbers of bass on top. The big producer on top has been deer hair divers tied by Pat Cohen. Check out Pat's work at www.rusuperfly.com. March and April are two of the best months for fishing the Lower Colorado. We have already caught several largemouth bass over 6 pounds and a new state record Guadalupe Bass. Now is the time to get out and catch some bass.
On March 6th, 1836, an overwhelming force of Mexican troops under the command of General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna advanced for their final siege on the Mission Fort in San Antonio. A rag tag group of gorilla fighters mostly mountain men from Kentucky and Tennessee foolishly lost their lives fighting for the Republic of Texas.
For me winter this year has seemed like being under siege by Santa Anna’s army. In a more typical winter I am usually able to get out at least a few days during the December through February freeze up. As most of you know reading this, our winter has been rough. Ice, snow, high water, melt water, and frigid temperatures has kept me garrisoned in my own fort, fending off the advancing forces with alcohol, fly tying, and a ticking wood stove .
The last time I fished was the day after Thanksgiving up on a Lake Erie tributary trying to hook a lake run steelhead on a frigid snowy 16 oF day. This might have been the longest I have gone in my adult life where I have not tortured a fish.
However as I type up this report from the San Antonio Texas Airport, I have my first sunburn of 2014, my first case of painful 8 weight elbow, a big dose of Vitamin D pulsing through my blood stream, and my fingers still smell like Texas Bass. I think I have just repelled Santa Anna’s troops at least for a little bit, and you would be hard pressed to wipe the smile off of my face right now.
This trip down to Texas was not a fishing trip. It was yet another week long touchy feely management meeting to celebrate our record setting profits in 2013, to break bread, to drink lots of wine, to hold hands and to sing Kumbayah with my co-workers from around the world while we all cross our fingers and toes for another record setting year To put it mildly these sort of meetings are not my thing, and I might just prefer being snow bound like the anti social curmudgeon I really am, not bathing or shaving for months in my cabin.
Toward the end of my week the weather report for San Antonio Area looked awesome, think last week of April weather in West Virginia -- complete with blooming redbud trees. While chatting with my boss complaining about our winter, and my lack of fishing time, she graciously offered to pay the last minute change of plane ticket fees, and just like that a business trip turned into an unplanned fishing trip.
So this is how I ended up in an Avis Dodge Avenger headed north toward the Texas Hill Country on Thursday afternoon, while the rest of my co-workers were headed back to the great white North. Now I was not prepared. I had nothing except causal business wear, one pair of jeans and absolutely no fishing tackle. Serendipitously I ended up in the historic district in Gruene Texas (pronounced “green”) where I was able to purchase a pair of fishing pants, and a much needed hat at the local fly shop.
The community of Gruene Texas was so cool I spent the night there, scoring a great steak dinner at the Gruene Gristmill River Resturant right on the banks of the Guadalupe River (America’s Southern Most tail water trout fishery), along with a live music show at the Legendary Gruene dance hall. The music was great as was the funky collection of artists, cowboys, Texas dirty blondes in boots, folk musicians, and German tourist all sipping Lone Star Beer around the glowing cherry red pot belly woodstove that was leaking fragrant pecan wood smoke. The Dance Hall had a long colorful history of hosting many great live performers including some of my favorite outlaw country performers – John Prine, Joe Ely, Guy Clark, Arlo Guthrie, and many, many others. John Travolta had even danced here for his famous dance scene in the movie “Michael.”
Through the magic of the internet, I was also able to score a spur of the minute guided trip on the Colorado River with Winston Cundiff from allwaterguides.com, and Winston hooked me with everything else I need including a couple of awesome fast action 8 Weight Echo fly rods.
Winston was a very experienced fly fisherman, and you would have never known he is on his first year of working as a guide. And as usual everyone has a West Virginia connection, as Winston had grown up in Ravenswood, West Virginia, while his dad worked for Keyser Aluminum. Winston and I hit it off right way as we shared very similar views on rivers, fly rods, politics, and life in general.
Early on a cloudy chilly spring like Friday morning found me waiting at our takeout on the Colorado River just downstream of Austin with Winston for the shuttle bus driver. When Neal, the gnarly old river rat shuttle driver showed up, he greeted us with “You boys doing jumping jacks to keep warm!!”, then he looked at me tugged at his scraggly white beard, and exclaimed, “I bet it has been long time since this one has done a jumping jack!!” Sadly, Neal was right on about that!!
With a short ride to the put-in, Winston was soon pushing me down the Colorado, while I was flipping and bouncing heavy bunny strip patterns back along the bottom to the raft. If you don’t know the Colorado River actually heads up in New Mexico and then meanders some 862 miles across Texas to the Gulf of Mexico near Matagorda Bay. The Colorado River also might be one of the best warm water bass rivers in the US, with largemouth, smallmouth, white, and the colorful hard fighting native Guadalupe Bass all on the menu. I mean where else in the US can you be fly fishing for bass on the last day of February.
The Colorado River (at least near Austin) looks somewhat like a cross between our own Greenbrier River and the Elk River in Clay County decorated with some sub tropical plants, prickly pear cactus, and lots of fishy looking woody debris. It is mostly happy little riffles, with some long slow pools or “lakes” that I would not want to personally row in an up river wind. The variety of bird life was nothing short of amazing – Ospreys, ducks of all varieties, Kara-Kara Eagles up from South America, wading birds, herons, big turkey buzzards, flashy snowy egrets, and even a flock of whopping cranes gliding their way north on high altitude thermals.
Now it is still winter even in Texas, the fishing was slow and the bass were hunkered down in the deep holes, but occasionally I would put my fly in the right place, and I would be awarded with the thump-thump-thump of a head shake from a chunky winter largemouth, or a fly rod bending Guadalupe. If you think smallmouth bass fight outside their weight class, then you have not been introduced to Guadalupe’s. Lord I would like to go back there when those bass are crushing the popper hatch!
So uncharacteristically I opened up my 2014 fishing season on a bass river in Texas. Oh it will not be long now, before I will be drifting nymphs under a strike indicator to Southern West Virginia Browns, or casting Quill Gordon dry flies to Pocahontas County Brook trout, or rowing someone down the Greenbrier River bouncing bunny strip flies along the riprap for our smallmouth bass, with our Redbud blooming in the background too.
In the mean time, winter can simply kiss my bass. Enjoy the Texas Bass porn, as I certainly did!!
Remember the Alamo!!!
Thanks for doing our job Tony, Tony Lives in West Virginia and is a small mouth fanatic.
We had a few boats on the LCR today. Winston fished a popular stretch with Tony from West Virgina (-5 this morning in Charleston) so needless to say he was pretty happy to start his “year” with some Texas Bass and good dosage of Vitamin D. Alvin fished a lower stretch with Lucian and Cannon Jones. Before today all three had never caught a Guadalupe Bass. They caught quite a few up to 2.5 pounds. The fish are still deep and hungry with no signs of them moving into to shallower water to spawn. The banks of the River showed signs of spring and the 10 day for-cast looking good.
AWG fishing guide, Shea McClanahan was guiding two of his more experienced clients Bryan Townsend and Jim Cooper Saturday, February 1, 2014 on the Colorado River, Texas when Bryan hooked into a larger than normal Guadalupe bass (Micropterus treculii). After a spirited fight McClanahan netted the native bass and all on board immediately knew this fish was something special. Shea weighed the mature female Guadalupe Bass on two somewhat accurate scales he had onboard and felt confident the 3.8 pound mark on both scales was a good indication that the fish was just over or very close to the current state record of 3.69 pounds — a record held by Allen Christenson since 1983. This was all the confirmation and encouragement Shea and his anglers needed to begin the process for seeking state validation of this pending record fish. Also worth noting is that this fish was caught using fly fishing gear and not conventional tackle. Bryan was fishing with an Orvis® Helios II flyrod, Mirage reel and a Gulley Ultra Craw fly pattern.
While still on the water, Shea called client and friend Jody Gibson who in turn made multiple calls resulting in Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) inland fisheries biologist, Marcos De Jesus meeting Shea and his clients at the take out (location withheld by request). De Jesus took photographs, measurements of the bass’ length and girth, and a clipping of the pectoral fin to confirm the genetics of the bass, Micropterus Treculii. The fish was placed in an aerated cooler for transportation to the Cabelas location in Buda, Texas. Using Cabelas’ certified scale with Shea and his clients present the fish's official weight was recorded at 3.71 lbs., which breaks the current state record by .2 ounces!
The Guadalupe bass is found only in Texas and is the official state fish. It is primarily endemic to the northern and eastern Edwards Plateau (AKA: Texas Hill Country Region) including the headwaters of the San Antonio River, the Guadalupe River above Gonzales, the Colorado River near Austin, and portions of the Brazos River drainage. The Guadalupe bass, like other "black bass" including largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass, is not a true bass, but a member of the sunfish family Centrarchidae. (source: Texas Parks and Wildlife)
The link below is a digital photo album from Byron Phillips (friend of Shea McClanahan) who was kind enough to document the entire event from Shea's arrival at the take out until the fish was released into a quarantine tank at Cabelas. The fish will live out her life at the Cabelas (Buda, TX) location in a temperature controlled tank — with plenty to eat without risk of predation — for anglers young and old to enjoy for years to come.
Pending Records for angler Bryan Townsend:
Colorado River (TX) Water Body — Largest Guadalupe Bass
State Record — Largest Guadalupe Bass
World Record — Largest Guadalupe Bass
State Record — Largest Guadalupe Bass — Fy Rod/Catch and Release
World Record — Largest Guadalupe Bass — Fy Rod/Catch and Release
Updates and the full story from Shea at http://www.allwaterguides.com/news. All Water Guides is very appreciative of Jody Gibson, Byron Phillips, TPWD officials and the very accommodating staff at Cabela's for their asistance — a real team effort. You can read more about Shea McClanahan at https://allwaterguides.squarespace.com/shea-mcclanahan/
All press inquiries: email@example.com
Pat joined me (Winston) for a day on the Gaudalupe yesterday and upon learning he lives in Lafayette, La the conversation quickly steered to all things L'Acadiane. Restaurants, Watering holes, Culture etc...etc... Being born in La La land and having spend many years in Lafayette ( A GREAT place BTW) it was wonderful having Pat on the boat for the day, with all the wonderful talk of the homeland we managed to put a few in the boat. Over all the fishing was a little sluggish, we netted a few, lost a few and missed a few altogether. The weather was nice as well as the company again re affirming that its not always about the numbers.
Well it seems Central Texas fly-fishing is hot right now. Sunday (2-9-14) Shea, John and Winston had a 3-boat trip and the fishing was excellent. Both Largemouth and Guadalupe Bass are deep and will eat anything dark and crawfishy, no mystery there. Winter fishing in Central Texas is great no matter what and is generally tough to beat, however, we’ve been watching for a specific weather pattern that has been consistently fishing well for us. If you’re flexible with your availability and want to "get tight" you can get into some unreal fishing right now. We’ve caught and released some very (VERY) large Guad’s as well as some HUGE Largemouths and are looking forward to sharing some exciting news that, well…to be honest…we said would happen this year.
I know we keep saying this in every report but it just keeps happening. Now’s the time to catch BIG (and potentially record) fish on the Lower Colorado River.
In January we have all been splitting our trips between the Colorado and Guadalupe Rivers. Most of that time has been on the Guadalupe River catching some nice rainbows in some unseasonably cold weather. With the frigid weather compliments of Polar Vortex I and Polar Vortex II, the water temperature on the Guadalupe River has been cold and the trout seem to love it. We'll repeat, "trout love cold water and lousy weather", which will continue on Guadalupe River in February.
It seems as though with every trip down the river the catches have been improving. We are consistently catching good numbers of fish between 15 and 19 inches. Even better than all the catching, is watching friends and family members — fathers and daughters, sons and moms, old college roommates, etc. — all coming out to fly fish and enjoy this wonderful resource. Families and friends fishing together, making memories, and sharing old stories makes for a great day on the water.
We are primarily using tandem nymph rigs using a 4X 7-1/2’ leader with a larger attractor and a small (size 20) midge tied on a 16” 5X tippet dropper under a small indicator. Top attractor patterns included eggs, stones, and pheasant tails size 12-16. Midge patterns included CT trico emergers, RS2s, and zebra midges in sizes 18-20. Increasingly, San Juan worms and sucker spawn will be brought in the rotation throughout February and into March.
Along with our colder than usual winter weather, additional trout stockings have contributed to the quality fishing we have experienced in January. Weekends have been very crowded and those clients that book Monday-Friday are having much better catches than our weekend anglers. We would be more than happy to explain this to your bosses, your spouce or your school principle in the hopes of getting you out on the water during the week.
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.
At least that's what the duck Hunters tell me as I'm backing my boat down to the water this time of year. "good luck" they say as if I'm out there to struggle through this horrible 60 degree winter day. My answer is always "we'll suffer through It".
Typical trips this time of year are full day and we cover around 6- 8 miles depending on what section of the river is fishing best. This time of year you can almost count on not seeing another person all day, if that floats your boat. I will say this - when the water is low and clear and the temperatures warm up to the low 60s, there is no other place on earth I would rather be than the Colorado River. Old growth Poplar and Pecan trees line the banks creating a ribbon of reds, golds and orange. Mr. Great Blue Heron and always impressive Osprey are always there to greet you with a fly by.
There is something special about fishing this river in the fall and winter. Maybe it's the size of the fish averaging around 3 lbs, or maybe it's the pure numbers once you realize you've caught over 15 by lunch time. Or is it the pleasant temperatures that require only a light fleece jacket to stay comfortable all day. In either case the splendor of the fishing can stay with you for months. We at All Water Guides would love to show you what winter "Hunting season" looks like.
Cool days and tight lines