Monday, October 27, 2008

No fishing last weekend but good one nonetheless

While I had no fishing this weekend, it was still a good one. My daughter's high school band hand a great performance and they were part of the top six bands chosen from the thirty bands that competed in the area marching competition to move on to state competition in San Antonio next week! Way to go Vista Ridge Band!

I also got to talk to my cousin in Corpus Christi and I will be heading to the coast to fish it on Friday and Saturday. I have high hopes of bringing back some trout and maybe some redfish as well. This will likely be my only chance to fish anywhere until possibly Thanksgiving week.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Big Guadalupe bass in Lake Travis

This weekend is sort of a repeat of last weekend in that my daughter's high school band has yet another marching competition. My son has a birthday party to go to in the afternoon so I basically had a couple of hours this morning to fish. And fish I did.

This time, I launched from Jones Brothers Park in Jonestown which is just about 15 minutes from the house. I mostly stuck to a narrow arm of the lake across the park and fished along the shadowy cliff side.

The morning was cool in the mid 50s and the water is still warm in the 70s so there was a light fog on the glassy smooth water. It was beautiful. It was also much different than last weekend in that the skies were clear and blue.

I was tempted to tie on a top water fly but really wanted to try the experimental seaducer along with an all chartreuse cactus minnow I tied last night. The cactus minnow was the first fly tied on.

I love to target the corners of docks or any structure/cover that has a corner as I tend to find bass usually near there. However, I started with the cliff walls throwing the fly as close to them as possible. I was rewarded with a couple of small Guadalupe bass.

I continued working the docks and cliffs picking up a couple of more bass. Some of them gave themselves away as they chased baitfish up to the surface. Once I got into the sunshine away from the cliffs, I didn't get much action so I paddled back to where I started and had caught bass and worked along the other way.

By this time I had switched to an all olive and black seaducer and as I cast it to the back corner of a boat dock I saw a big hit and felt the rod bend as the fish dove deep. This is typically the sign of a good Guadalupe bass as they tend to want to dive while a largemouth surfaces and shakes its head.

The bass circled the front of my kayak and I got to see him and he was impressive so I pulled out the net and hoped it wouldn't come off. Once landed, I measured it and it was just shy of 16 inches. For this species of Texas native bass, this is a trophy size fish as they don't normally get much larger (the water body record for this lake is 18.25 inches at 3.69 pounds). The fish easily went over 2 pounds. I released the fish and packed it up for the day.

I was really pleased with the fish I caught in the two hours on the lake. I got a new personal best for a Guadalupe bass and it was on an experimental fly I tied. Couldn't get any better.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Back in black

My oldest daughter has a marching band competition today and my wife was volunteering so she said if I wanted to go fishing, Saturday morning was my only chance and I HAD to be back by noon. You don't have to tell ME twice!

So, at 7:30am I was on my way to the lake. I watched deer crossing the road on the dark overcast, drizzly morning. I also watched a small armadillo walking along the side of the road and I was hoping the little guy didn't become roadkill that day.

I was in the water by 8am and paddled along to the opposite shoreline for a bit, throwing by experimental seaducer for about 30 minutes with no bites other than the tugs of small brim. Thinking through all the tactics I have read through the years, I recall that black or dark colors were recommended during dark overcast days so I switched to a purple and black cactus minnow I had tied earlier in the week.

The cactus minnow is simply composed of a cactus chenille body with a marabou tail. It also has a cone head bead to allow it to sink nicely. That's it but today this was the ticket.

Within a few casts along the drop-offs near shore, I caught my first bass. I also worked the fly towards the back of some docks and caught a 15" bass that looked somewhat malnourished. Its tail and head looked too large for its body. It also had a few gouges underneath as if it had been foul hooked and the hook ripped out. The bass is the one in the photo above. I released the skinny fellow back in the water.

I picked up another bass and lost a couple before paddling across the lake to a long rip-rap section of the shore near the ramp. My first fish there turned out to be a catfish which surprised me! He twisted around and slimed up my leader before coming off while I was trying to grab the landing net.

I proceeded to catch four more bass from 13" to 15" along the shoreline. Most were caught in two to four feet of water. Two of the bass I caught were really light green in color. One of the best fish I caught had the fly right in its tongue. I was fortunate not to have lost that one.

As I headed back to the ramp to make it back by 11am, I passed over a large, dark shadow in the clear water that I could easily see was a big catfish. That would have been cool to have caught on my 5wt. Maybe next time. Hope it's a dark day, too.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Albright Tackle Oktoberfest Blowout

As I was reading one of the fly fishing forums today, I came across someone mentioning a closeout sale at the Albright web site. The link is and they have several rods and reels for 70% off but selection seems to be diminishing quickly.

Since I have been meaning to get my son his own fly rod for some time, I went ahead and purchased a nice GP 8' 5wt for $37.50 along with a click and pawl reel for $14. Not bad! Once I scour ebay for an appropriate fly line, this will be a great Christmas present for him. Can't wait to see his face!

The closeout tackle doesn't come with the standard warranty but still comes with a product replacement guarantee. I just thought I should mention that.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Having fun at the TPWD Expo 2008

Since I had told my kids we were going to the Expo, they were pretty excited. My youngest one was up promptly at 7am and was ready by 7:30am. My son took a little longer to get up and get ready but we were out the door by 8:30am.

Having experienced the limited parking at the Expo before, we have been taking the shuttle buses for the past couple of years. Once we got to the expo we headed to the required education for shooters, got our hands stamped, and then got in line for the clay shooting. Unfortunately for us this wasn't the youth shotgun queue and so we had to move and go get in another long line.

My son waited about 30 minutes and finally got his turn. They get three shots at three slow moving clays that pretty much are launched directly towards them as opposed to the side. He didn't hit any of them but still enjoyed it. He particularly liked how the shells ejected though he wasn't sure he liked the recoil. He still prefers shooting the air rifle for now.

After that, we moved over to the fishing area and took a look at some freshly caught fish that are on ice that kids are encouraged to touch. They had everything from shark to mullet on ice. They also had tanks with live sea creatures that can be touched. My daughter tried to touch a crab and it struck at her though its claws were bound so it couldn't hurt her. As she pulled her hand, she punched her brother in the nose as he stood behind.

I took a photo of my youngest in front of an exhibit sponsored by the Texas ShareLunker program. This is a program where by an angler that catches a bass weighing 13 pounds or greater can donate the fish to TPWD for breeding and study. In return, they are provided with recognition of their catch and I believe they get a replica mount of their catch. There a few replicas of bass over 17 pounds on display. They looked like real pigs!

We then moved on to the fly fishing tent and the kids sat down to tie some flies while I checked out what the various fly fishing clubs from around Central Texas had on display. There are a lot of great fly tyers in the area. When I returned to see what my kids had tied and they gave me their flies, I didn't know that my son's fly had super glue on it and almost got it stuck to my fingers! As I type this, I still have some tiny amount of feather on my thumb and index finger.

The next stop was to visit the Texas Buffalo Soldiers. Their exhibit had a real frontier feeling to it and their uniforms and dress were very authentic. They were all great story tellers as well.

After having some lunch, we visited some tents with some "critters". We saw a peregrine falcon, various amphibians, reptiles and snakes. My daughter startled a diamond back rattlesnake in a plexiglass cage and it took a defensive position and gave us a good warning with his rattle. I told my daughter that if she ever encountered one of these snakes on her own, to back away.

As the kids were getting tired after four straight hours of activities, we went to take a look at some native insects, plants, and walked one small trail before heading back to the shuttle bus. We barely got to scratch the surface of the exhibits, activities and events available. We saw a large tank that provided people with the chance to learn to scuba dive. We saw several folks wearing wet suits about to get in the large tank. That looked kind of cool.

All in all, I had fun, the kids had fun and it was a great learning experience for everyone as well. If anyone ever has a chance to be in Austin next year during this time, I highly recommend going to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Expo. It really is a great event.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Texas Parks & Wildlife Expo 2008

I had to work this past weekend so I didn't get to do any fishing. For this upcoming weekend I may not get to fish either. That's OK because this weekend is the annual Texas Parks & Wildlife Expo at the headquarters here in Austin.

The expo is a great place to take the family to see and learn just about anything about the outdoors whether it is for shooting, archery, paddling, camping, fishing, hunting, hiking and so on. I am not sure other states have similar expos and this just might be unique to Texas. The other part of this is that all the events are absolutely free! So, you can imagine the place can get pretty crowded with tens of thousands of people coming through.

I expect we'll be in the fishing and aquatic zone quite a bit and I might try to convince my son to try the youth shotgun activity. I will also stop by the fly tying tent they usually have and say hello to the good volunteers that will be there. I volunteered a couple of years ago at the Wet Zone which has a 10,000 gallon tank where people can try their hand at paddling a kayak. My kids have done this before so we will try to do other activities we haven't before such as the Map and Compass course is the camping area.

So, I will take my kids and camera and report back later this weekend as to what we did. Should be fun! It always is when we go.