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Thread: Texas Bass Decompression

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Eagle River, Alaska
    Posts
    206

    Default Texas Bass Decompression

    Haven’t been around much….first half of this year has been hectic. Had to locate my wife (excuse me, now exwife) who sent me to the store the day after Christmas and then she disappeared….at least it wasn’t with any of my fishing gear. Then I spent 3 ½ months working in the heart of the Emerald Triangle in northern California…..yes, the largest cannabis growing area in the country. It’s like returning to a 60’s to 70’s hippie commune…lots of tye dye clothes and silver ponytails and appropriately (although not intentional) my license plate has only three numbers on it….wanna guess? 420. Needed to decompress when done so headed to central Texas for a few days last week to fish hoping I don’t get bit by a rabid armadillo (been one of those years so far).

    Fishing Texas rivers has been difficult due to high water for the last few years. My buddy Shea informed me the Colorado River we normally fish was too high as water from dam releases was causing severe issues with the fishing. He decided we’d go fish someplace I’d never been…..the South Fork of the Llano River about 2 ½ hours northwest of Austin in the middle of the hill country. The river was very fishable here but had suffered from a 100 year flood in October, 2018 which had killed many of the fish present. To give you an idea of how catastrophic this flood was we fished the S. Llano with a flow rate of 95 cfs, pretty normal. The flow rate at the peak of the flood was 278,000 cfs….no, that is the correct number….mind numbing. Anyway Shea found us a nice little house rental in Junction, Texas to stay at.

    First morning we were up and onto the river…..well maybe stream would be a better visual. This really reminded me of the small rivers and streams I grew up fishing in Montana and Idaho for trout……not a bass river.



    We ran my rental truck down as a shuttle, launched the raft and were ready to give the fish a good thrashing. That bright yellow rod I affectionately call “the yellow jacket” I built specifically for bass fishing these waters…..it has the deadly chartreuse fluke attached to it…..



    The area around here, with its many granite formations was absolutely striking. I’m sure not many people get around to seeing this part of Texas. Although the scenery was great the fishing was a bit wanting with nothing in the first hour. Fascinating how the S. Llano flows here…..there are narrow areas of running water then the river flows into big pools like small lakes with very little water movement.



    Hard to believe it’s the same body of water. These “lake” areas frequently dropped off into 8 to 15 feet deep…..looked like great largemouth habitat (looks can be deceiving). Finally after fishing the fluke, trying crawdad squarebill cranks, some surface lures, I finally went back to my trusty Luckycraft jerkbait in shad color and nailed my first Guadalupe bass……as you can see he was very hungry trying to hork down the entire lure.



    Caught a few other small guaddies as we continued and also a bluegill and a green sunfish. Still not sure how the sunnies got the hooks on that jerkbait. Finally at the head of one of the deep pools I nailed my first largemouth:



    Not a bad bucketmouth for such a small body of water. It was entertaining watching him chase my chartreuse fluke as it rolled over some just-under-the-water branches and went vertical sucking it out of the logs…..his tail almost breaking the water. Shea and I both get a kick out of watching these fish hit in clear water. There were many large pool areas that had big rocks everywhere…..looked great for smallmouth except there aren’t any here. Caught one guaddie out of a deeper spot that was really dark:





    Again, beautiful background. We were hitting more long pools but never seem to catch anything out of them:



    Stopped in a nice shady area to eat some lunch and discussed what we learned during the first part of the days fishing. We both agreed we had to have moving water with wood in it. That pretty much held up the whole day. Caught a few more sunfish and then a vicious spotted gar……dang things just try to bite you when you’re trying to unhook them. Wrapped my hand around his beak keeping it closed and he quit moving….unfortunately it left a goodly number of little tooth holes in my hand. Finished the day with a nice, fat Guadalupe:



    We figured the flood had seriously thinned the fish out but there was obviously plenty of food in the water as they were all fat. Erratic catching day but I did manage 5 different species……the South Llano River Slam….largemouth and Guadalupe bass, green and bluegill sunfish and that vicious spotted gar.

    Nice dinner at the “you find them everywhere in Texas” BBQ place in Junction and off to bed. Morning we decided to put in about 4 or 5 miles below where we got out the day before….water looked remarkably similar:



    Where we were shaded the day before with clouds today was mostly sunny and it was HOT…..yes HOT. But the catching started right off the bat in this section, beginning with a nice largemouth:



    Pretty water throughout this drift:



    Catching fish was more consistent then the day before but the heat required us to hop in the river every so often to cool down. Nearly everything this day was caught on a fluke……a couple on jerkbait….crawdad colored crankbait struck out which was strange as we found crawdad antennae hanging out in most of the guaddies throats. Probably cause I wasn’t using a KVD model….haha. Again some very pretty guads:



    Caught one largemouth all day fishing non-moving water although he was over a bunch of sunken trees:






    A bit later I nailed this very nice Guadalupe bass, especially from this small water….possible this could have a bit of smallmouth bass in it (long story):



    Okay, I’ll make the long story short…..typical happening of well meaning idiots. In 1958 Texas fish people stocked 6,500 smallmouth in the S. Llano which then begin to hybridize the guadalupes out of existence (not sure who takes credit for this idiocy). In the early 90’s current Texas Fish and Game realized they were hybridizing out guadalupes with smallmouth in all the central hill country….which of course, is the only place the exist. Instead of trying to get rid of the smallmouth they began an extensive program of putting milllions of pure Guadalupe bass in all these rivers and now there is hardly a remnant of the smallmouth left. But some of the color patterns on a few of these fish do look a bit smallmouthy (not sure that is a real word but I’ll go with it). Back to the fishing trip. Fished some backwaters too usually producing small fish:



    But look at this water. It was hot and I believe as we swam in some of these areas I may have been invaded by brain-eating amoebas…..of course, once into my cranium these poor amoebas starved to death. The day was finished with a nice largemouth:



    Very consistent day of fishing……lots of tiny young of the year bass in the water so in a couple years this should have great numbers. Probably caught about 30 bass this day, with no sunfish and no freshwater barracuda.

    During the last 2 days Shea had been watching the water flows on the Colorado River, where we usually fish, and the powers that be were not messing with the flows that much so we decided to drive back to Austin and fish the Colorado on my last day. Went through some horrific thunderstorms on the 2 ½ hr drive back.

    Last day the water looked okay on the Colorado and the fishing was pretty darn good. The action in the morning was pretty darn good….mostly on a shad pattern jerkbait…..one very nice largemouth:



    Fishing was quick enough I didn’t take many pictures….I wanted to be in the water. Only took 1 other fish pic of this pretty Guadalupe:



    By 10:30am I had caught 18 fish……then the water started to rise and get dirty as they pulled another big water flush out of the dam upstream. In the next 6 hours I only caught 3 small fish. The dirty water just shut them down.



    Really pretty water, huh? NOT. But there was plenty of hot cocoa. Well, it was a nice trip again. I forgot about work, my divorce and was able to relax….have fun guys.

    Brian

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Hamberders and Covfefe
    Posts
    12,003

    Default

    Great report and pics, as always Doc. Always good when someone knows how to use a comma.

    And like someone once told me, "You never run after subway cars or women. There's gonna be another one coming shortly."

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