Saturday, July 26, 2008

Exploring Brushy Creek

About a 15 minute drive from the house runs a creek through some scenic views that I have been meaning to explore. So, I took my 4wt and decided to fish it for a bit for about an hour or two before lunch.

We had some rain a few days ago that were remnants of Hurricane Dolly yet the creek was running clear. The area I tried had had trees surrounding each bank and above it. In some spots the creek was somewhat narrow but casting was not hindered too much.

Wading downstream I was surprised with the depth of the water. I had figured it was going to be really shallow but there were some areas where the water went above my knees. This is of course more than adequate for a largemouth bass to lie in ambush for a woolly bugger.

I caught a couple of really bright orange spotted fish which I think were Pumpkinseeds, and some green sunfish along with a Rio Grande Cichlid. I could see beds in lots of places plus bass patrolling around these beds.

Farther downstream I found a hole that contained a school of dozens of baby catfish. In this hole were a couple of good size bass over one pound that were mingling among the catfish school. I wasn't able to catch either after switching out flies several times.

It was getting to be noon and I was really hungry so I went back upstream and left. I expect to be back to this creek and next time explore the upstream section.

One reason I had come to this creek was because of what I had heard about carp being in there though I did not find any in the small section I explored.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Catfish hole redux

One of my nephews is visiting us for a couple of weeks this summer. One of the things my son wanted to do while he was here was to take my nephew and he to the place my son and I went a couple of weekends ago to the spot he caught a few catfish. So, I made preparations this week and rented a small sit-on-top kayak from a local kayak shop.

Yesterday, we went to the YMCA in town that has a small, shallow lake and I had my nephew practice his paddling skills since he was fairly new to it. After an hour, he got pretty good at moving forward, turning, stopping and paddling in reverse. I then got all the fishing gear together that night.

This morning we set off to the same put-in as before and headed upriver. My nephew found it a little more difficult paddling against a current (light as it was) but he did just fine.

Eventually, we got to our destination which was the pool where we had caught catfish two weeks ago and rigged up. My son was the first to catch a catfish though my nephew followed soon after with one on his first cast.

Both boys concentrated on their fishing and in the hour and 45 minutes, my nephew caught and released six fish with a couple around two pounds. My son caught and released five on his own.

We paddled back to the put-in so we could get home early to clean up to have lunch with the rest of the family. Both boys enjoyed fishing and paddling together and seeing cranes, herons, a raccoon and finding a sun bleached deer antler. I had fun taking them out as well.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Going back to basics - the woolly bugger

For a while now I have been experimenting with various new patterns for carp, bass, etc. but I came to a realization that I should return to a pattern, a simple as it is, that worked. Therefore, on my recent trip to a new fly shop I picked up materials for tying up the woolly bugger.

In the past I have caught the following species on this fly:

  • Catfish
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Guadalupe Bass
  • Red breast sunfish
  • Bluegill
  • Rio Grande Cichlid
  • Common Carp
  • Spotted gar
  • Speckled Trout (yes, the saltwater kind)
There are probably a couple of other species that I have caught on the bugger (I don't remember if I caught a rainbow trout on one).

Olive green is my most successful color followed by black so I tied a dozen of these. On recommendation from the fly shop owner, I bought some variegated/grizzly olive (with black bars) Wapsi hackle and maribou. He also recommended black coneheads instead of the gold beads I usually use (even though the package says black, the conheads look like a lead gray to me). I did tie a few with gold coneheads though. I expect these flies will catch fish just fine.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Living Waters Fly Fishing Shop

This morning I drove about 15 minutes from my house to a new fly shop in neighboring Round Rock to check out a new fly shop that opened up about three weeks ago. It is called Living Waters Fly Fishing and is located in a shopping center just past the intersection of Sam Bass Rd. and Hairy Man Rd. very close to Brushy Creek. I was eager to check it out since the next nearest fly shop is about an hour away and the next one (in Cabelas) even further than that.

It was fairly easy to find. There was a small sign outside that said the shop was now open. When I walked in, someone was just leaving and I was greeted by the owner, a young man by the name of
Chris Johnson, and we began to talk.

I knew Chris had worked at a chain sports store that had a "fly shop" in it. While that store originally had an OK supply of fly stuff, they never seemed to restock it well enough or stock it with items pertinent to our Texas location which should have included more items for the target species such as bass and redfish rather than the more traditional cold water trout. I was glad looking around that I did see photos of different species of fish other than just trout.

I asked Chris about the best spots to wade in the nearby creek for bass and carp and he was quite helpful. Before he opened the shop, he used to guide on the nearby creek as well as other rivers in the area. I was mainly interested in carp from the last encounter I had a few weeks back with a fly fisher I met on the San Gabriel. It turns out that Chris new the gentleman that I was speaking of and that man had come by the shop just the day before! Small world!

I picked up some materials for tying some olive and some black woolly buggers since it been a long time since I had any of these successful flies in my fly box and I need to get back to some basics. Chris suggested some slight variations from what I normally tie and after getting home and tying a dozen flies, I think I like the results.

We continued with our conversation and another gentlemen entered the store and we had a conversation with him about carp, gar, Rio Grandes, and other topics as well. My wife was waiting for me at home for us to go to an outlet store so I couldn't stay too long.

I got a good impression of the shop, small as it currently is, that it will likely be around for a while. While he does't carry a lot of items at the moment, Chris said he can place special orders for the brands he carries if what I am looking for isn't there. He also plans to at some point carry Winston and Sage rods to supplement the TFO and Ross rods he is carrying now. I really don't need any rods myself but that should round out the selection.

Chris also plans to have fly tying stations in the back of the store for customers and for hopefully monthly tying seminars.

All I can say is that I hope that this store is around for a long time. We've needed another fly shop for a long while in this part of Austin and there are plenty of fly fishers around that should be supporting the store. I'll be one them for sure.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Fishing, four wheeling, UFOs and fireworks

Last week, I spent Thursday and Friday fishing in Corpus Christi. I actually got there on Wednesday evening so we went out in the kayaks to do some fishing in the Laguna Madre underneath some lights.

Of course it was windy so it was a bit difficult to cast with my 6 weight and so I spent most of the time with my casting rod. We were catching trout on almost every cast though most of the fish were undersized "schoolie" trout. We did manage a limit but we also had to fight a strong current, sea foam, lots of grass and wind. Not to mention, I got two really nice birds nests on my casting reel and I dunked my fly rod in the water but recovered it before it sank. All in all, it was worth it.

The next afternoon we went to clean the fish at the boat launch and just as we finished up one of the area's best guides came in with four clients.

As it turns out, my cousin knows this guide fairly well and stayed to chat with him. The guide is named Captain Bill Sheka and he is truly a living legend among the guides on the Texas coast. He's been showcased on a few TV fishing shows and guided TV personalities and other celebrities. He's a real nice guy to boot.

Anyways, after a photo of the catch with his clients, he and my cousin were talking and one of the clients asked if the truck parked nearby belonged to my cousin. It was and he asked us to pop the hood open so he could show us how we could get three, four or more miles-per-gallon better mileage out it. Bill introduced his client as Steve Gehrlein. Apparently, Steve is a mechanic's mechanic and owns a very successful auto shop in San Antonio, hosts a radio show on identifying and solving car problems, and also wrote a book on tips to avoid getting ripped off by bad mechanics called Save $$$ on Auto Repairs. So, of course we listened and let him show us how!

Steve proceeded to tell and show us a few modifications to allow additional airflow into the engine via the air filter housing that would do the trick along with cleaning the throttle body. In the process of showing us, he cut his finger pretty badly on the sheet metal though it didn't stop him. He was pretty enthusiastic about showing us how to get that extra gas mileage out of the vehicle.

My cousin asked me to take a photo of him with the celebrities. Since I didn't have my digital camera with me I used my camera phone and the photo didn't come up too bad. Left to right in the photo are my cousin Captain George Garza, Captain Bill Sheka and Steve Gehrlein.

That night we went looking for a way to get to a remote location on North Padre Island that my cousin wanted to fish and we followed a trail that had been created by some four wheelers. It really required a four wheel drive vehicle to get back in there since it was mostly fine sand trails with deep ruts. We almost got stuck twice. It was worth it though as the area we fished was beautiful though we only caught one keeper 20 inch trout. We promised to come back the next night to do some gigging for flounder since there were several small areas in the back that looked promising.

One thing that did occur that night while we there looking up at the starry night was my cousin caught a glimpse of a small white flash high up in the sky and then I saw it too. It blinked a couple of times and then showed up east of where it was again. It flashed a couple of times then showed up farther east almost above us. It flashed a couple of times again then showed up east behind us. Amazing! We knew it was not a jet since nothing travels that fast! It also made no sound. It wasn't a satellite either since you can typically see the object constantly as it travels. It also wasn't a meteor since they stream across the sky and disappear in a flash. It had to be a UFO. I've seen some odd things out there before but that was a first for something like that. I am totally serious when I say that was really freaky seeing that.

The next day, July 4, we came back to do some flounder gigging. After watching a beautiful sunset and it got pretty dark, we walked maybe three miles through the water and only came across two small flounder. All the time there were fireworks exploding all along the beach and across the bay. It was really cool! We packed it up around midnight and headed out. A friend of my cousin's had come along in his four wheel truck and got stuck in the sand just as we were exiting the area. My cousin towed him out and we had a lot of laughs at his friend's expense since that was the second time my cousin has towed him after getting stuck.

This was a most memorable trip and I did bring back some trout as well. I'm going to do some freshwater fishing for a while but will try to get back out for a salt fix in the fall.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Here kitty kitty!

Today I took my 10 year old son on a guided fishing trip on the San Gabriel river. I was the guide of course. This meant I brought no tackle along for myself. My son brought along his spinning combo, worm hooks, bobbers and, of course, some big fat nightcrawlers.

We paddled to a pool where I was sure we could catch some bass as that is what he wanted to catch. The first fish to strike was indeed a bass but came off. We then went to the end of point of a gravel bar that was adjacent to deep water and tried our luck there. He caught a catfish! A good one to. He then caught another one. And then another. On the third one, I got jabbed by the spine in the pectoral fin as I was taking out the hook and the kitty twisted about. It wasn't a bad jab but enough to hurt and draw blood. This was a good time to teach my son about being careful of those catfish spines and to always carry a small first aid kit which I had in my bag. A little alcohol swab and a bandage and I was fine.

Now, at this point, I was sort of stunned as I have never caught a catfish from this pool. I have caught some nice cats upstream from here. He continued trying to catch a bass (or a carp which he saw splashing about) but kept catching catfish or got hits but no hookups with whatever it was. In less than 2 hours he caught 7 catfish with the largest going over 4 pounds. The largest one gave him a good fight and we took a photo of it and released it. Actually, in the photo it looks as if he is holding the catfish up but just out of camera range above his hand I am holding the line since the catfish was a little heavy for him to hold up that high.

We had a good time on the river and while he didn't land any bass, he did enjoy catching those catfish. We also saw several herons and a large hawk fly over the pool. I am thinking I need to get him his own kayak because the both of just barely fit in my kayak. He knows how to paddle but I may need to tether his kayak to mine when paddling upriver as it hard work sometimes. We'll be back for those bass some other day.