It started out as a touch and go morning with the weather.
As I packed for the day it was raining hard with thunder
and lightening, but the radar showed none of the cell moving
south to where we were going. As the time approached for
Justin, freebirdsWB, to arrive, the rain stopped and the
day was quickly turning into a sauna bath. We loaded up
and headed south to just above the city of San Marcos.
There is a place called the 5-Mile Dam on the Blanco River
and the Central Texas Fly Fishers Club was meeting there
for an afternoon of fishing. This area requires a float
of some sort, as the river is deep and fairly wide in places.
The other nice thing is no motorized craft with the exception
of electric trolling motors are allowed. Everyone in this
group was under paddle power. If you ever want to see a
wide variety of watercraft for paddling, get with a fly
fishing club doing a river float trip. I saw some pretty
neat stuff that day.
After introductions and getting everyone's various floats
in the water, we all headed off to spots we hoped to catch fish.
The Blanco is well known for its population and size of Smallmouth
bass or smallies, as they are often called. There have been
smallies over 4 lbs. taken consistently on the Blanco and this
was in everyone's thoughts as we started to fish. After several
false starts on my new pontoon riverboat, I headed up river to
see what I could find. A little way up river I found a deep inlet,
which ran back several yards into the bank. One side was a gravel
bank while the other was weedy with dead tree stumps in the water.
Now this was looking very promising. I rowed up to the gravel
bank, banked the pontoon and quietly waded up into the inlet.
There were fish signs everywhere. The telltale 'Vee' wakes and
an occasional rise marked active, feeding fish. With the giddiness
of a schoolboy, I tied on a yellow and orange San Gabriel fly.
Carefully minimizing the false casting, I laid the fly out just
to the side of one of the stumps. Before the fly had time to
settle, the water exploded and a fair size longear bream took
the fly. The next few casts produced several bream. I went
further back into the inlet and switched over to a weighted
San Gabriel, this one was yellow and purple. I cast it up next
to some deadfall in the inlet and slowly twitched it back to me.
No takers...hmmmm. I cast out again and still no takers.
I knew there had to be some bream in the deadfall but they
were not budging from their cover.
This is a nice shot of a small Redbreast Sunfish. Note the
extended gill flap cover.
I have learned that when the bream are hitting really well and
then suddenly stop, there maybe something big in the area and
it has them spooked. So thinking there was a big old bass who
was looking into the ruckus caused by hooked bream, I tied on
a simple baitfish imitator and flipped it out to where the bream
were biting before. As I twitched and stripped it back to me
the line went tight and immediately began to surge out fast
enough to give me a slight burn. The line continued to surge
out and was heading for deep water. The rest of the loose line
was out and I set the hook and put the fish on the reel at the
same time. The drag was screaming and the fish had still not
come up. I palmed the spool and slowly got it turned around.
It was a tug of war for a little while as I was afraid of breaking
my line or giving too much slack and the barbless hook slipping
out. After about ten minutes of tussling back and forth I was
slowly gaining the advantage. In all this time it still never
surfaced, I had no idea what it was. Finally I got it in shallower
water and the first thing I saw was a big flat head with whiskers!
It was a catfish coming in at about 19 to 20 inches long. Well,
that started out the day on the right note. After a few more
casts and a few more fish I decided to explore further up river.
Clouds were moving in from the south and dropped the temp to a
more comfortable level. Rolling thunder could be heard in the
distance and it immediately reminded me of the story of old Rip
Van Winkle of the Catskill Mountains. The storm never made it
over our area but skirted around to the east. Just as well,
all of us were carrying nice lightening rods.
At one place in the river a submerged limestone ridge was clearly
seen and every once in awhile a fish could be seen darting out
and up to take bugs off the surface. Here I anchored the pontoon
in place and cast out just to the ridgeline and twitched the fly
to where it would cross from the shallow water out over the
submerged ridge. A few more twitches and WHAM, another hit
from an eager bream.
This area being a little further south places tall stately
cypress trees alongside the cottonwoods and oaks. Wherever
there are cypress tree roots and knees in the water, there
are fish. As I went on up river to where the first set of
riffles came in, about an eighth of a mile or so, the river
narrowed severely and the cypress trees were predominating.
It was beautiful back here. The sounds of running water and
fairly constant shade made it very pleasant to fish. I banked
the pontoon and went on foot from there.
I carefully and quietly waded up river casting ahead into
undisturbed water. It was bream non-stop action in and around
the cypress tree roots! It was also non-stop lost flies in the
low tree limbs! I think I need to seriously consider that 4-foot
fly rod combo from one of the FAOL Sponsors. Although I did not
make it past this hole, Justin went further up and found another
large clear pool, which had large catfish circling about. It was
also up there that he landed a very nice Guadalupe bass.
As the day was ending and we were drifting back down river, the
fish were beginning to rise in the coolness of the early evening.
A few more were landed but everyone was in a hurry to get back
as the park closes at nine pm and the sheriff tickets anyone
coming out afterwards.
No one caught any smallies that day. Most likely because it was
not fished early morning and having to be off the water well
before dark eliminated the dusk fishing. However there will
be other days, other fish, other flies and unfortunately
Until next time good fishing to all. ~