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Fly Fishing Texas Hill Country: Where to Fish?

As you probably already know, I am an avid angler, and I am on the water usually 4-5 times per week. As I fish quite often, I know a few pretty nice places that hold fish. I’m going to share a few good places that I think might catch you a fish or two.

One of my favorite rivers to fish is the San Gabriel River. My favorite access point on the San Gabe is in Georgetown. This river holds a variety of species: largemouth bass, carp, sucker fish, quite a few subspecies of sun fish, and even buffalo. This river offers clear visibility as well as wading ability. If you just want to go out and cast a line and be guaranteed a fish, the San Gabriel River is a good place to go.

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Another place that I like to fish that is a little closer to Belton is Salado Creek. To me, this creek is extremely underrated. I have caught one of my top 3 biggest bass in this creek as well as many other large fish. an access point that I like to go to is near Stagecoach Inn. Lots of fish stack up near that spot on the creek. Salado creek is also very clear and holds multiple species. The only drawback to fishing Salado creek is that there is almost always someone taking photos on the water. The creek is so beautiful that many people like to have photo sessions on or near the creek.

My last spot that I am going to suggest is very obvious I think… Belton Lake. I know that everyone says they fish Lake Belton and get nothing. And over the past years I have had the same experience But this past week I bought a drift boat and my experience changed completely. I have caught more fish within the past week than I have caught all throughout 2017 combined, and it was all on Belton Lake. This is not to say that you have to go drop 3 grand on a drift boat. A kayak will allow you to get into the coves on the lake that hold the good fish. one good access point is Arrowhead Point

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I hope this blog helped you and if you’re thinking about casting a line, just go do it! You never know what you might bring in.

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How to Properly Handle and Care for Fish

As you may already know from reading some of my previous blog posts, I am a conservationist in the outdoors. I am a catch and release only angler and I feel strongly about conserving our waters and the fish that live in them. An important part of conserving our fish is the handling/care.

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Many times I have watched anglers catch a fish, put their fingers through the gills for a photo, remove the hook from it’s lip, and put the fish back in the water and are surprised that the fish didn’t sim away- rather, it floated to the top of the water because fish don’t breathe air….

An important tip when handling a fish is to try to keep it in the water as much as possible. Don’t get me wrong- fish can be outside of the water and sill be alright. But if you are planning on taking a photo or just want to admire the fish, keeping its gills in the water really aids in the fish’s health. The entire fish doesn’t have to necessarily be under water, but the front bottom of the gills should stay under water if at all possible.

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Another tip, especially when handling bass (I mean come on, I am from Texas) is to not bend a bass’s jaw back. Many people don’t know that when holding a bass by its lip, if you cock the lip back to where it bends, you’re potentially breaking that fish’s jaw. Rather than bending the lip back, if you just grab the lip and tint your wrist, it is helping that fish to stay healthy!

These are just a few tips that I wanted to share with any fellow angler that wants to keep fish as healthy as possible. Being able to see and hold a fish for just a few seconds means so much to me and so if even one person benefits from this, it makes it totally worth it to me!

Why I Practice Catch and Release

If you didn’t already know, I am a catch and release only angler. Lots of people especially around Texas go fishing in order to catch fish to eat, but it not about that for me. This is not to say that I disagree with eating fish- I just don’t do it for that reason. The reason I fly fish is not for the food opportunities, but for the sport.

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In all of my years fly fishing, I have never kept a single fish for eating. My first day fly fishing, I adopted the practice of catch and release and have stuck with it since. This has practice has turned me into the conservationist that I am today.

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The reasons I catch and release my fish vary. One reason I practice catch and release is because I want to watch my fish grow. I don’t fish in places that are very popular to other anglers, so if I catch a fish and put it back, chances are I will most likely be able to catch that same fish again knowing that nobody else has taken it home with them. I get to watch that fish grow in size over time and to me that is worthy.

 

Another reason I practice catch and release is to maintain a healthy fishery. Being from Texas, I don’t know many other anglers who strictly practice catch and release, so I know that fish are constantly being taken from our rivers and lakes, diminishing the population. When I return my fish back to their home, I am assuring that the fishery is being maintained by at least myself. Travelling frequently to the western states has allowed me to note the conservation that takes place in the western rivers and lakes. I notice that over there, the majority of anglers I come I contact with practice catch and release.

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I would like to urge everyone to practice catch and release while fishing at least a little bit. I am not meaning to say that you should never keep a fish to eat, but if you are not sure whether or not that fish will get eaten by yourself or your family, putting it back in the water will do no harm!

Sharing my Passion with Younger Generations

There are countless reasons that I fly fish. These reasons vary from travel experiences and adventures to catching the actual fish on my fly rod. But a really important part of fly fishing to me is being able to share the sport with kids.

I believe that deep down we all have a certain group of people that we enjoy assisting. To some it may be elderly, to others it may be handicapped- to me, its kids. The love and passion that I have for the outdoors is so strong and being able to possibly have a positive effect on one child’s life through fly fishing makes it even more enjoyable for me (I didn’t now that could even happen.

I am blessed in the way that I have a huge family full of kids. And I mean lots of kids! I try to fish with all of them, but one specific kiddo in my family enjoys fishing the way that I do. Her name is Peyton. She can toss a fly, fight a fish and net it on her own at just 11 years old. Peyton hasn’t always been that into it, but this past year she has grown to love the sport so much and I couldn’t be more proud!

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Seeing the smile on her face when she feels a fish fighting on the end of her line makes my heart fill with joy and it’s honestly one of the best feelings that I have ever felt! Knowing that I taught her how to do that and seeing the happiness that takes place is priceless.

I plan to use my passion for this sport to work in the fly fishing industry and get all kids outdoors and fill those little hands with fly rods!

Night fishing for Trout pt. 1

Trout fishing at night can provide a huge payoff, but can also be super tricky. Every time I’m on a trout fishing trip I will wake up early and fish all throughout the day, but almost every time I will most likely fish at night as well. Night fishing allows the chance to catch trophy size trout- especially brown trout. I want to share some of the things I have learned about night fishing over the years!

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Just like anything else in life, night fishing requires preparation. I invest quite a bit of time preparing for this so that it is worth my while. My favorite places to night fish are those that are known to hold giant fish. Everyone knows of that one place that has trophy fish- that place is where you want to go. The cool thing about tossing a fly into the water at night is that you never know what is going to bite. To me, one of the best opportunities to catch a trophy fish is at night!

To scout good areas, you can use Google search engine and find out where the big fish live. Along with finding a good river, you need to find out where to fish on that river. I usually like to go the day before and find deep pools where I think trout might stay. I like to try to find spots that have very little brush and trees so that I don’t get caught up on every cast. Also, check the flows before you go. A lot of places I fish have different water flows at different times. You should check with the right personnel to be sure that the water levels will be safe for you to go at night.

I am going to write more on night fishing for trout in a later post and I will include some gear that you should use as well as fly selection!

Bass Habits in the Winter

As many know, a fish is cold-blooded. Being a cold-blooded organism means that the temperature of the water regulates body temperature. Since bass are warm water fish, the colder weather brings on a chemical change that slows their metabolism quite a bit. This metabolism change affects their feeding behaviors, thus making the bite a bit different than in the warmer months.

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With their metabolism being slow, the bass eat a meal, and it takes longer than usual for their bodies to process that food, making them feel fuller longer; and being fuller longer eliminates the need to eat as many meals. This certainly does not mean that bass do not feed in the winter! Some fish may feed just as much as they do in the summer, but as a whole, bass feed less in the colder months than in the warmer ones.

During the cold weather, bass tend to seek warmer water, but this does not mean that they will confine themselves to this one area during the entire winter. A lot of times bass in ponds or lakes will travel to deeper water because deeper water is less affected by the air temperature. Sometimes bass even gather together in pockets. These bass that are in these pockets are not all experiencing the same feeding behavior, though. Some may be active while others are inactive. As goes for rivers, bass tend so seek cover in areas with more still water. The bass want to avoid fast-moving water that may have a colder temperature.

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The key to catching a bass in the winter is to offer them an easy meal. A tip for catching bass in the winter would be to down-size your fly. This is mainly because bass are not looking to exert the energy to chase and devour a large meal. Smaller meals are easier to consume, so a bass may go after a smaller fly in this case. Another tip would be to use a slower retrieve. Along with wanting something small, bass may desire something slow-moving so that they don’t have to put in much energy.

Some of my favorite fly patterns that I like to use for bass in the winter include the “slump buster”, the “lunch money”, and the “peanut envy”. I like these patterns in really big sizes during the summer as well, but in the winter I like to stay around a size 6 for these patterns. There are countless numbers of flies that work great in the colder weather! Patterns that I avoid for the winter time are top water flies such as frogs, poppers or grasshopper imitations.

I have heard many people say that “bass don’t bite in the winter”, but that is surely not the case. Bass are a rewarding fish to catch, and they are sure hearty! So skip the trout fishing one day and tie on a nice bass streamer- it may be worth your while!

Brazil 2017: Packing

As we already know, I love to travel outside of my home state of Texas to toss flies at different species of fish. I have been to lots of different areas in the U.S. to fish, but in August of 2017 I am checking off an international location! I have the opportunity to travel to Kendjam, Brazil to fish for multiple species on the fly. Some species are: pacu, piranha, wolf fish, payara (vampire fish), bicuda, and let’s not forget to mention the world record sized peacock bass. Total, I will be targeting 10 exotic species.

Kendjam is a remote land in the core of the amazon and is a small indigenous community. This community is run by natives and is made up of about 700 people. These people are a part of the Indian ethnic group called the Kayapo. As a guest in the community, I will have the opportunity to interact with true native Indians and experience the rich culture of the Kayapo.

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The Kayapo Native Tribe in Kendjam, Brazil

Above is a photo of the Kayapo Natives at their base in Kendjam, Brazil.

In Brazil, I will be fishing the Iriri River which is an untouched, clear-water river with a granite-base, which means that wet-wading will be easily accessible. This area of river is in the heart of a highly remote tropical jungle area. With this being said, I am in for a grand adventure!

When packing for a fishing trip while travelling inside the United States, I am able to pack however much clothing/gear I desire. Unfortunately for this international trip, I have a limited amount of cargo that I can take. This amount is extremely small…I may bring up to 40 pounds total. This means that my clothing, fishing gear, toiletries, and everything else that I will need for an 8-day stay in the Amazonian jungle must fit into a duffle bag, and weigh under 40 pounds. With this being said, I have to strategically plan my packing tactics for this trip.

Usually when I travel, I am headed to somewhere with cooler temperatures as that is usually where trout live, meaning that heavy clothing is required as well as jackets. In this case, I am headed in the opposite direction. The temperatures in Brazil in August will be particularly warm- even warmer than Texas temperatures. With this being said, I plan on wearing very light clothing, and definitely not wearing waders. With wet-wading being so accessible, I don’t think that bringing waders will be necessary. This will take off quite a bit of weight to my luggage. I plan on wearing thin, lightweight shirts that provide sun protection as well. An example of this would be the Simms Solarflex long-sleeve. These type of shirts will be easy to take as they weigh almost nothing.

I am extremely anxious and excited to go to Brazil, and I will be posting more on the upcoming trip throughout the year!