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No Excuse


By Johnny (aka Hillfisher), Texas

I recently, through experience, realized that even with the endless resources at our finger tips, there are people who simply do not get out to experience our great outdoors, from lack of information or just not knowing how to go about getting it. Some of this may be in the form of not feeling comfortable going out by themselves for the first time. As most of us know, that is where an initial trip with a guide can be invaluable. For others like me, being well armed with as much information and technology as I can get, will head out on their own with little to no problem.

Why am I off on this train of thought? A young man I know bought a nice fishing boat for around $9000.00 a year ago. A couple of weeks ago this conversation took place;

Young Man, "I really wish I knew where to go fishing."

Me, "What do you mean, you have had the boat for over a year!"

Young Man, " I've been out twice, but it was just to get the feel of the boat and do some fishing. I just don't know where to go, to fish."

Me, "You do realize those two trips were $4500.00 apiece right?"

Young Man, "WHAT? Looking at it that way is depressing!"

Well he is right, but not knowing where to go just doesn't offer up as a good excuse these days. Not knowing where to go and choosing not to go alone is a different matter. I guess what bugged me the most about that conversation, was to make me think how many others have made the jump into fly fishing or any other outdoor sport and just simply do not know where to go or how to get the information needed on where to go. There is simply too much information out there not to be able to find out where to go.

Between local fly shops, sporting stores, local fishermen (although some may not share too much with you) and the Internet, your biggest problem should be choosing where to go! In this article I will share all the resources I use for those who live here in the Texas Hill Country and for anyone who visits to sample some of the finest warm water fishing in the south.

First off, the one thing most everyone is familiar with, is Maps. There are maps in just about every form you can think of, books, pamphlet style, software and hand drawn by some local sportsman and posted on a club bulletin board. For the state of Texas the best book of maps you can possibly get for public water access is, The Roads of Texas.

It's in the Tracker at all times and is on the "Must Have" list for travel. It shows every county road and where each crosses a creek, river, lake and flood control or life retention ponds. I have gained access to some really nice fishing holes through this book. Any state or county maintained road has a 15 to 20 foot easement. Any such road crossing a body of water is public access, if the water is considered navigational. In Texas that is a channel carrying water that is 30 feet across from source to termination. Not the actual water but measured from upper bank to upper bank. However not all landowners abide by this and there are plenty of other places to go. Don't argue with the landowners! It simply is not worth the potential problems that could arise. In conjunction with this is the book Fly-Fishing the Texas Hill Country, which gives detailed public access instructions to 14 different rivers all of which are referenced by page and grid to, The Roads of Texas.

It also gives lodging, restaurants and general water conditions. With these two books a fly-fisherman can keep very busy for several years. However this is still but a small piece of the pie.

For those of us who want to go beyond the "Known" places there are different resources which are also available for everyone's use. Of course there is always the whispered "I know this great place. . .", but this is not a common knowledge source. The Internet however is abundant with information. For anyone who is interested in Texas fishing, salt or freshwater, the single best starting source in my experience has always been www.tpwd.state.tx.us/ . The information found here is excellent, both river and lake information is abundant and easy to access. Fishing reports, water conditions and access points are well mapped for all the State Parks and links to any lakes that contain a web site for additional maps.

In addition there are links to Internet sites that have online Topographic Maps for viewing and in some cases printing. One site I know of will allow you to select maps for ordering and come as waterproof material so streamside usage will not damage the maps. For those who do not know, Topographic Maps or just simply known as, "Topo Maps", give elevation grids as well as the usual cartographical information. This gives a good indication as to the steepness of the area to provide planning for drift fishing, wading and hiking. They also can contain hiking trails, fire roads and other means to show a path to streams and ponds not normally shown on common road maps. Below are listed sites that can get you to topo maps. Some are viewed online while others are for ordering. Have fun exploring.

www.topozone.com Topozone is an excellent online resource with downloadable maps and links to trail resources etc. and is my personal favorite. More:

The last thing I want to mention is the Global Positioning System or GPS especially the portable downloadable mapping ones. Of all the above-mentioned resources, this is by far the most beneficial for me. No, I'm not worried about getting lost but I use it on every single trip. Wherever I do really well I mark it on the GPS. This gives me the ability to track the movements of the fish throughout the seasons. With notes like feeding top water or nymphing, what fly is used and whether the fish are on beds or schooling. All this saved on a computer for uploading and downloading. I save the tracks on each trip to see the deviations if any, in the river channel. This is especially useful when re-visiting a river after a long absence or severe flooding.

But even more useful is the software that is available to upload maps to the unit. Using downloadable topographic map software for the GPS, I have found access to rivers, creeks, ponds and flood retention reservoirs that have produced some outstanding fishing. With the GPS I am sure not to get lost on the initial first trip. Of these areas, I have seen no one other than the local citizens. In fact one area was a small park in another town that I never knew about and the creek running through it produced some really fine bass. Is it worthwhile? Yes, just look at some of the places I have found.

Overlooking the Colorado River basin in the Inks lake region.

From the above picture, turn around and the last thing one would expect is a medieval castle. Yes, it's a residence, all 195,000 square feet, with no tours but that's a whole different story and it's not on any maps.

Cow Creek (above) has extremely clear waters. The rocks in the foreground are under water. Cow Creek Rd. crosses these waters 6 times offering several access points. A beautiful private park can be found along the way that anyone can use, again not on any maps.

Finally a parting shot from atop cliffs overlooking the North San Gabriel entering Lake Georgetown.

The point of all this. . .there is no excuse not to get out there and have some fun!

Next time, It's White Bass season and I've got pics, flies and the story to go with them.

Until next time, Good Fishing! ~ Hillfisher

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