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Caddo On The Fly

By Robin Rhyme, Texas

A few weeks ago a post came up on a local fishing board asking for a fly fisher who might be interested in a guided trip on Caddo Lake in order to film a local outdoors TV show on the subject. This piqued my interest and I emailed Dennis North saying words to the effect of "I'm your man!"

Not too many days later I was advised that I was indeed "the man for the job" and started making arrangements to head out to Caddo.

A brief history of Caddo first. It was the only natural lake in the state of Texas up until the early 1900s when oil was discovered and it was subsequently dammed.

An old abandoned oil well in the middle of the main lake

The lake was formed, according to Caddo Indian legend, by the great New Madrid earthquake of 1811. The alternate theory is that it was formed from the effects of the Great Raft, a 100 mile long log jam on the Red River.

However it was formed, it's one of the most beautiful places I have ever been, much less fished.

There are several fishing camps on the lake and likely the remnants of many others long ago abandoned. Being the only lake in the region, Caddo was the destination for many anglers back in the 1800s and early 1900s, much on the order of the more publicized camps in the Northeast. The rest of Texas' lakes were built, in the main, by the Corp of Engineers starting in the mid-fifties. These newer lakes don't have the patina of age and elegance that Caddo does, never mind the sheer primal beauty.

So, I took off to Uncertain, TX to meet my guide Dennis as well as Dearil Jackson and Bill McBroom who are Ark-La-Tex Sportsman. We ate a catfish dinner at Big Pine Lodge that was, without doubt, the best I have ever chowed down on. In Mexican restaurants here you are brought a basket of chips and some salsa. Here we were brought large bowls of home made cole slaw and baskets of home made hushpuppies to feast on while we looked out on the Big Cypress River and waited on catfish.

Homemade coleslaw and jalapeño hushpuppies at Big Pine Lodge

We settled on a 7:00 AM meet at the Fyffe Grocery. So it was try to get to sleep while visions of angling danced through my head. My roomie was Doug Rochelle who drove one of the camera boats. He's a veteran of the bass tournament circuit and we spent a good while sharing information with each other. Seems everyone has a fly rod hiding in the closet and Doug was no different. I gained some valuable fish spotting techniques from Doug and showed him ways to rig a fly line and rod.

The next morning we launched our boat and the two camera boats and headed out to the Big Cypress to fish. Once I got dialed in I started catching bream, as the saying goes, hand over fist.

We made a run up the government ditch to Bradley's Canal where we looked for bigger bass but to no avail. The day ended on a good note as we had a rib eye dinner and planned out the next day.

An interesting side note, Bill McBroom the cameraman and producer/director was the only other one in the group who had any really extensive fly angling experience. Bill had learned to fly fish from an Indian fellow he worked for back in the 1940's. He told me about how different it was then, about catching a five pound bass on his fly rod. Interesting history, there is a deep-rooted and relatively unknown southern warm water fly angling tradition that runs way on back. Most folks left fly fishing in the '40's and '50's when spinning tackle arrived and bait casting gear became more accessible financially. But old Tom Nixon and others carried it forward.

Day Two

in which I try to land a big bass and fail. But I did set the, up to that point unfilled fly rod, record for largemouth on the fly as well as broke the bluegill record! We started off in a big slot that ran the length of the lake. I was casting a big deer hair popper on my eight weight but could only manage one little bass. The fish to cast ratio and the fun coefficient were way low so I returned to my successful action of the three weight and blue-tailed damselfly nymph.

Frustration mounted as the line kept snarling unmanageably! That is Bill McBroom manning the camera in the boat behind me.

We traveled on over to the main body of Caddo to a section called Big Green where we continued the big bass hunt. I did manage the lake fly rod record in Big Green, but at 11¾ inches I am submitting it as more of a challenge to others to go to Caddo and break it!

My biggest bass of the trip

I encourage anyone with the inclination to head to Caddo and enjoy this internationally protected treasure! ~ Robin

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