I needed a day off. Yes, needed. I’ve had to make some hard choices lately and now that I did, time to step into the serene world of deciding between olive or black streamer, or fish here or walk.
Thursday, Veterans Day (thank you military for protecting this beautiful country of ours), I headed south to the southernmost trout fishery. I renewed my TU lease on the Guadalupe so was eager to see if I could catch a holdover trout. I’ve seen reports in the GRTU forums that they did well this year but I haven’t had a lot of luck in the past few years on the Guad so my expectations were set to just enjoy being on the water.
I found a new route from my house which didn’t involve going down the hell road of IH-35 so I jumped on it. I always prefer backroads over major highways so this path through Dripping Springs, Wimberely, and Sattler was much more to my liking. A bit of fog was still in the air when I arrived at the first lease site of Maricopa Lodge.
I parked at the designated GRTU parking spot and did a quick survey of the water – low, clear and lots of traffic around as the put in was at a major bridge. No thanks. On to the next site.
The next lease was only a mile or so down the road past the 4th crossing. 2 of the 3 allowed cars were already present so I took the 3rd spot. On the way down to the river, a dejected looking angler was heading back and his response to my normal question “have any luck?” was “no, not a single fish.” Yikes. Well I am here for the scenery I reassured myself.
I started at the riffles. A prince nymph and a brassy as a dropper were first up. About 5 minutes later and a nasty tangle involving every possible likely trouble spot in the rig, I cut it off and started walking downstream. 20 minutes of wading down and I was in about 4 feet of very still water. An olive wooly bugger didn’t get any takes so I kept walking.
It started getting shallow again and there it was, a beautiful, deep cut through the rock into an obvious fish hotel. The hole was about 100 yards long by 15 ft. I couldn’t wait to drop something big and nasty into the middle of it and strip it back with a toad attached to the end. For those who don’t read fish porn, don’t take the word toad literally or that matter, porn. Anyway, I tied on an olive Slumpbuster about size 8 and heaved it downstream along a seam with my 5 wt Headwaters cane rod. Strip, strip, strip, str…. from below, something ambushed it about 5 feet from me. A large Rainbow turned on its side and headed for the depths. Trying not to get too aggressive, I let it take the line. As I pulled it in a bit, I started the estimating on how big this thing was. First estimate, it’s pretty big… not sure if it’s a toad class yet but big. And it was healthy. About a minute in to the fight, I was starting to worry that my knots were tied on a bit haphazardly. I really wanted to get the fish to the net. It was starting to get tired so I grabbed my net (which I need to upsize a bit considering my recent catches) and reached out to scoop it up. The bow realized what was happening and didn’t want anything to do with it so he took off again. But it didn’t have enough energy to fight off another retrieve so I netted him.
This was a toad. It was fat and big. Although I didn’t have a measure, it was easily 22″ if not 24″. I’ll go with 22″ so I don’t look like I’m exaggerating. I fumbled with my iPhone to take a picture but I just wasn’t able to pull him out of the net, deal with the net and rod and fish all at the same time. I decided to give up on the picture and just let the fish go back to the depths of the hole in a little better shape than if I stumbled around and got a picture. So, you’ll just have to take my word that it was the fish of the year for me.
After that fish, not much else memorable but a 6 ” bass from the same hole on my return trip back to the car. A day of extremes. A huge trout and a bass the size of the fly it tried to swallow. I did get rained on pretty good and almost dunked the iPhone which I had just removed from the water proof case to get some of the attached photos.
I think I may like fishing the Guadalupe again. I had given up on it but the proximity (about an hour from my house) and the beauty of the scenery and the quarry will bring me back the rest of this season.
Way to go. To bad about the photo, but i agree, better a living fish and no photo than the opposite.