Sunday, December 31, 2006

Barton Creek Revisited

What a difference a day makes. Yesterday was cloudy and calm and today was windy with gusts up to 26mph and bluebird skies. This apperently did affect the fishing somewhat. Barton Creek did shelter me from the NW winds though which was nice.

I was hoping for a repeat of yesterday but fishing in Barton Creek was a little more work today than yesterday. I had to work to catch the five bass I caught. All were less than 13 inches but spunky little fish. The fish were warm to the touch, too. Most of the fish were caught along the grassline using clouser minnows and cypert minnows.

I ran across a couple of other kayak anglers that were catching some bass as well but nothing bigger than 1 1/2 pounds. I actually did paddle along the grass line and twice saw largemouth that looked to be between 3 and 4 pounds at least.

I'm glad I caught some bass to close out the year on a positive note. Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Barton Creek

Following this post I saw on that mentioned someone catching a new lake record 12 pound bass a couple of days ago, I decided to pack my 5wt and kayak and head to downtown Austin and fish around Town Lake around mid-morning. I had taken the kids to Zilker Park a week ago and we had walked down by Barton Springs and the creek that it feeds that empties into Town Lake. I decided this was a great spot to fish since the water there is around 68 degrees year round and it is typically very clear and not too deep. In other words, it's made for fly rodding!

Once I put-in near the high school I paddled directly to the mouth of Barton Creek and paddled up into it. There are running trails and pedestrian bridges that go across it so not a very quiet and peaceful spot but pretty nonetheless. I paddled just past the street bridge to a spot that looked to have fish. It had plenty of weed beds where largemouth could ambush baitfish from. The water also did feel tepid compared to the water in the main lake.

I cast at several spots and finally caught a 10" largemouth on a superhair clouser minnow. I saw a school of minnows around some reeds by the shore as well as on the edge of grasslines so I kept using different baitfish type flies such as craft fur clouser minnows and polar minnows and caught several bass up to 1 1/2 pounds. I lost one that was likely 2 to 2 1/2 pounds. With the water so clear I could see some smaller bass charge the fly and short strike it as well as larger bass follow the fly only to see it up close and lose interest. I tried varying the retrieve but either a slow drop or a fast retrieve seemed to get a strike. I need to figure out how to do a fast two-hand retrieve like the Northeast striper fisherman do in order to speed up the fly and keep the fly right on top of the weedbeds.

I also saw a big largemouth cruising through the grass that could have gone 5 pounds easily! This was a good spot to be in indeed!

Altogether, I caught and released about 7 largemouths and lost another three with just as many short strikes and refusals.

On my way out I stopped to talk with another kayak fisherman who routinely fishes the lake and he indicated he caught a 9 pound largemouth last week where I was fishing! Cool!

I plan on going back to the same spot tomorrow but with a larger variety of flies to try.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

What is fishing anyways?

My definition of fishing is the act of hunting for fish and catching them by means of a line and hook with some sort of bait to entice the fish to put the hook in its mouth. Typically this involves a rod to cast said line and hook. My current preference is using fly fishing tackle. I've even run across specific definitions such as this mediocre one on about kayak fishing.

I was busy most of last week getting ready for the Christmas weekend which we spent in Laredo with family. On our return, we brought back one of my nephews that is close to my son's age and one of his most beloved of cousins. My nephew will be staying with us for a short while during Christmas break and so this afternoon I took my son and nephew to a neighborhood park where I could show him how to catch a fish with a fly rod.

The temperature this afternoon was in the low 60s and the water in the ponds wasn't quite warmed up yet even with the clear and sunny skies but I did entice a few sunfish. I briefed my nephew on the differences between fly tackle and conventional spinning/casting tackle. I showed him the typical cast and he watched as I caught a small sunfish.

My son, on the other hand, has already had this lesson before and proceeded to run around the park like a chicken with his head cut off. After a while, I was unable to hold my nephew's interest and he too went off to play with my son and basically explore the park like young boys do, leaving me to fish on my own. That was fine with me and eventually even though I was done and needed to get home to prepare to cook dinner (mesquite grilled burgers), they insisted on more time in order to "save" a cat. Eventually, my son stepped into the water and soaked his shoes, socks and pants legs and that was the end of the adventures at the park.

Here is a photo I took of the two boys holding one of the sunfish. My son is the one on the left wearing the white t-shirt.

Getting back to what is fishing? Well, in my son's mind, it is more than my meager definition and only a subset actually involves fish and there seems to be more focus and importance on just running around without a care in the world and simply having fun. In some ways, I like his definition better.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


My wife suggested I go fishing this morning. The weather forecast called for cloudy and drizzly morning with temps in the mid-60s and light variable winds less than 10 mph. This looked fine to me so I drove down to Lago Vista and put in at Arkansas Bend park to fish on Lake Travis. I was really hoping to catch a decent bass on my 5wt.

Since the water is still really low, something like 37' below full level, I drove on shoreline that normally is 10 to 15 feet below the water. I paddled around and looked for fish but it was really difficult finding any. The water temperature was in the low 60s as well so it's likely the fish went deep. I think I saw one large carp the whole three hours I was at the lake but got no bites. It's been a while since I've been skunked. I think I didn't catch any fish maybe one other time this year or maybe two. Still, the weather was mild even with the occassional light shower which made for a pleasant four miles of paddling in the yak. I had no problems casting my 5wt either with the light winds even though nothing bit.

Here is a photo I took of a favorite point I've caught fish from. The water is normally where the dark gray boulders are just below the tree line. Lake Travis has very little underwater vegetation so I key in on structure like the ledges you see in the photo. Baitfish will move along close to those ledges and the bass will not be far from them and occassionally hide in irregular areas along the structure that serve as ambush spots.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Fishing IS spiritual

I ran accross another blog that I found quite interesting written by a Jewish rabbi. It belongs to The Fly Fishing Rabbi. His recent post on fly fishing for bonefish in the Bahamas was refreshing. It described the difficulties of sightfishing and casting to bones. I think had he worn a good pair of polarized sunglasses, it may have helped. Oi vey!

I recently had a conversation with a local Catholic priest that is an avid fisherman though not yet a fly fisher...yet. In his sermons, it was obvious he was an angler giving some of his personal fishing experiences used as analogies to send home the message in a sermon. I saw him once at a sports store fishing section buying books on fishing for bluegills. I told him that the best tackle for that was a fly rod. I left him my email and hopefully he'll be interested enough in the spring to ask me more about it. When I mentioned I fish from a kayak though, that really piqued his interest.

The priest and I also had an interesting conversation about the whole spiritual experience that is fishing and being outdoors and frequently being in awe of the beauty that only the hand of God could have created. The times I really appreciate that are on an early morning watching a gorgeous sunrise across the water whether it be on the surf, a bay or a lake. Regardless of what the day holds instore fishing wise, your spirit is refreshed.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Jerk

Not much to report this weekend since I was sick since Thursday. I ended up thinking I should tie a new pattern that I could use on largemouth bass. I am really anxious to catch a good size largemouth as it's been a while.

Anyways, I picked a pattern called "The Jerk" by Nick Reding from Florida which I saw in an issue of Saltwater Fly Fishing magazine. It's really a pattern that's intended for redfish but it really reminded me of the Bonker Zonker which I have used before with good success on largemouth bass. The rabbit strip is what gives these flies such great action in the water that is the number one ingredient to their success.

The pattern was inspired by the jerk worm hence the name. It is really a simple fly to tie. Here's the recipe:

Hook: Tiemco 811s size 2
Thread: Chartreuse
Tail: Polar Fiber or Foxxy (craft) fur and Krystal Flash
Body: Crystal Chenille or Krystal Flash rope
Wing: Rabbit strip threaded on hook
Head: 1/16 ounce painted lead eyes or 5/32" nickel I-Balz
Weed guard: optional

Like I said, the fly was easy enough to tie and I chose white rather than brown, olive green or black though I expect those colors would work well also. I chose chrome/silver for the body and pearl flash for the tail to be closer to shad colors.

I am one more week away from vacation for the rest of the year so hopefully I will get a chance to try it out.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Stocked trout

I went to Blue Hole park on the south fork of the San Gabriel river in Georgetown to experience a stocking of rainbow trout by TPWD. I was only there a short time after the trout were released. They were mostly in the 8 to 10 inch range.

The experience was anti-climactic at best. I had hoped for more but it seems strange trying to catch these small fish that have been hatchery raised and not wild. Of course they couldn't be wild; this is Texas and with the exception of some parts of the Guadalupe river, coldwater trout can't survive long in the warm waters of our state. The fact that the fish simply schooled around the area surrounded by anglers casting Mepps spinners at them was akin to the expression "like shooting fish in a barrel". It almost didn't seem sporting though some folks weren't catching any and some were catching enough (once you get your limit of 5 you are done). I think it would be great for kids but releasing fish on school day doesn't allow for many kids to participate.

Anyways, I don't mean to sound harsh because it serves a purpose though I doubt I'll ever do it again. I did catch and release my one rainbow trout but didn't bother taking a photo of it. I left shortly afterwards.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

A new camera to capture fishing adventures

Seeing as my camera phone sucks and it would be difficult to explain to the wife that I ruined the family camera by dropping it in the water, I decided to look for a camera of my own.

I like Canon digital cameras and the ELPH series are small enough to carry easily in a shirt pocket so I looked at getting an older model off ebay. I figured I could get a quality used camera at a reasonable price. I settled on the 3 megapixel PowerShot S230 ELPH camera. A water-resitant or waterproof model would have been better but those seemed obviously a bit more expensive.

Anyways, the camera I decided to bid on was luckily being sold by someone in the next town so I contacted the seller who indicated I could pick it up rather than pay the $15 shipping cost since I was local. That gave me a $15 advantage over other bidders so I set my max bid at $80 and I won it later that day. I picked the camera up from the seller today.

Not a bad deal for a camera that 3 years ago sold for around $399. It came with two batteries, the charger, USB cables, manuals, and a 128MB CF card as well as a 32MB and a couple of 16MB CF cards that aren't all too useful.

I checked the camera and batteries out by snapping about 80 random photos around the house with the flash and it appeared to work fine. The 640x480 movie mode I took of the dog was pretty decent. This will be a bonus addition to catch those live action shots of fish burning drag, etc.

I'm pleased that my blog will now have better quality photos and possibly video and if I were to do something horrible to the camera, I'm not out $400. Cool.