This weekend brings probably over 50,000 motorcycle enthusiasts to the Republic of Texas (ROT) Rally here in Austin. While all those bikers were heading into town, I headed to the San Gabriel river instead with my kayak and 6wt and it turned into a rally of sorts there as well.
I got to the low water crossing at Highway 29 and CR100 around 8am and found three fisherman there. Two were loading up kayaks and the third was wading and casting with a fly rod. I went up to the first two to say good morning and then put together my stuff and started paddling towards the third angler.
I greeted him and started talking with him for a bit. As it turned out he belonged to the Austin Fly Fishers club. It turns out we both knew some of the same folks. One name I mentioned was a fishing pal of one of the guys that had launched their kayak before me. It also turned out that they all worked for IBM. Wow, small world since so do I. I wished him well and paddled upriver.
I came upon the second fly fisher in the kayak and told him I knew, actually worked in the same department with, his best pal. Apparently the guy we mutually knew moved to Boston not long ago but he still keeps in touch. After chatting for a while I headed upstream passing a couple of guys fishing from shore.
At the pool above the rapids I encountered a man and his son bowfishing for carp. For those not familiar with this sport, one uses a regular bow but with an arrow with a special tip that folds back when it penetrates the fish and opens back up after it goes through. The arrow has a line attached that is wound on a spool with a reel that is attached to the bow. The carp is reeled in sort of like when using a rod and reel. The only obvious difference is there is never such a thing as "catch and release" with this method. Although you can eat carp, typically they are ground up for fertilizer.
I continued paddling upstream avoiding to get near the bow fishing duo. After reaching my destination a half mile upstream, I cast a sort of wooly bugger looking fly that is really meant for redfish and caught the bass pictured above on that first cast. I caught several more small bass and lost one that was really nice and was putting a nice bend in my 6wt. After a while I noticed a couple of kayaks downstream so I put my gear up and started paddling back downstream.
It turns out that in one of those kayaks was an angler that frequents the forums at texaskayakfisherman.com so I stopped by and said hello and chatted with him and his wife for a short while. We talked about how nice and peaceful it was fishing in that section of the river. I mentioned to his wife that I had seen a large raccoon on the paddle upstream before it retreated into the woods. After a while I bid them good luck and kept going back downstream.
I fished the next pool for a while catching yet more bass and other sunfish and then I saw one of the fly fishers approaching. I went over and he was stalking carp. He had caught one below the rapids and was looking for another in the pool. We tied on a damselfly nymph and while I was making my way through the rapids he caught another carp! I need to tie up some of those flies!
On the way out at the low water crossing, I found the first fly fisher that had been wading earlier in the morning and he was waiting for his buddies. They weren't all that far behind me and while I was loading up my gear in the truck we talked for a bit and he invited me for a cold beer after they loaded up. I told him I had to pass. Can you imagine if I get home and my wife smells beer on my breath? Oh no boy!
I haven't had so much social interaction on the river like this in a long while. It was kind of nice. However, I am glad that I didn't find 50,000 anglers in the river this morning. I would still be there saying hello to everyone.