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.

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!

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!

Gear Review: Umpqua Tongass Bag

Every fisherman has a piece of gear that he/she never leaves at home; mine is my Umpqua Tongass Backpack. This backpack has been all over the United States with me and is a staple piece for me in all my adventures.image2image1The Tongass Back Pack by Umpqua, to me, is a lifesaver. This backpack has been through so many different harsh scenarios and has pulled through every single time! This bag can go through anything, really. It can withstand major hail/rain, tough terrain, and even complete submersion under water and all of your goodies inside are always safe and sound. It is quite roomy and has dual compartments in different sizes.

The bag uses the watertight roll-top method that is very effective. This helps ensure that no water will be entering the bag anywhere. Another aspect that I love is that although it already has the spacious primary roll-top compartment, it also has a smaller pocket that hangs on the inside for small things. I use this compartment for my cell phone and keys usually. This compartment can also be removed from the inside and buckled to the outside of the bag which makes easier access for those smaller things. The other compartment on this bag is a smaller roll-top that is located on the very front of the bag. I use this compartment for things that I know I’ll be taking in/out quite often (camera lenses, small fly boxes). The smaller roll-top compartment is the same material as the larger, so it can withstand just as much wear and is water resistant as well.

Overall I rate this bag a 10/10, and I would highly suggest it to anyone.

How I got addicted to fly fishing

About three years ago, I was introduced to fly fishing, and I have been addicted since. How did this addiction come about, you ask? I have always loved the outdoors, so automatically I’m a fisherman at heart. I usually always used a spinner rod or a bait caster when going fishing, though.

One afternoon during the Summer, a couple of my friends invited me to go fishing with them, and they were inviting a guy that I had never met before; his name was Clay. Clay used a fly rod that day, and I was so intrigued by how it looked like it felt when there was a fish on the end of his line, so I went to Cabela’s and bought myself a beginner fly rod setup that next weekend.

It was actually extremely difficult for me to use my new fly rod, and I was really discouraged because I had spent a couple hundred dollars on it, and Clay made it look so easy when I saw him use it. I wasn’t casting the same as he was, and I definitely wasn’t catching any fish. It was making me feel really bummed out. I would cast in my front yard, then go to the water and catch nothing day after day, so I was extremely disappointed that I has spent so much money on something that I was horrible at. So, how am I obsessed with this sport if I was so bad at it?

After about three weeks of failure using this fly rod, I finally decided that I was going to stop feeling bad for myself. I woke up extremely early on a Monday morning (skipping my college classes that day- this just shows how dedicated I was to catching a fish), and went to Nolan Creek right in Belton. I told myself that I was not going to leave until I taught myself how to catch a fish on this rod. Let me tell you, I spent hours in the water….

After about five hours of getting caught on the trees and catching sticks, I finally caught a fish. It was a largemouth bass and I caught it on a baitfish pattern. I cannot even explain to you how rewarding it was to finally catch a fish. Even though it was small enough to fit in the palm of my hand, that fish made me so happy.

The feeling that I got when fighting that fish on my fly rod was so awesome, and that’s what got me addicted. Catching fish is cool any way, but catching even the smallest fish on a fly rod is 100x cooler on a fly rod. If that itty-bitty fish made me happy, imagine how excited larger fish make me!

IMG_0116.JPGI hope that each and every one of you can find something that makes you as happy as catching fish on a fly rod makes me!