Fishing on the Caddo, May 2009

Work sure gets in the way of fun, but not this weekend! Memorial Day weekend with some reunion prep work at Jones Valley and two wonderful days fishing on the Caddo River with Cousin Larry. Friday was all work including a lot of weed-eating and assembling a cart for the riding mower — that would be the cart with no instructions for the jillion pieces. Our combined heads prevailed nevertheless. The day was polished off with a meal prepared by Larry’s mom and sister.

Saturday was a fishing day. We did the short trip, Caddo Gap (Manford Road, where the swinging bridge is) to the Narrows. Caddo River Day 1 The start was a little shaky at the bridge due to some huge trees that had washed up against the bridge structure. We had to haul our worthy craft around the fallen timber.  The next day would have us starting upstream from there and hoping that a kind soul with a chain saw had come along the way.

We caught quite a few fish including this nice brownie. First good fish

I caught maybe a dozen that day, with larry catching quite a few more. Mostly bream but with a few Brownies thrown in.  The day was topped off with a couple of Shiner Bock and another fine meal from Larry’s family. My refrigerator in the camper remains full.

Here is a good example of one of the many finely-colored Bream we caught. The colors really did not come out well, but you get the idea.

BreamAll in all it was a pretty productive couple of miles on this gentle stretch of the Caddo. The water was high enough to have some fun in the rapids and not have to paddle to make time down the river.

Then came Day 2. I started the day with a hike up the mountain to “Igor’s” cabin — not the real name, but you get the drift. Spooky. But with a very nice pond just below it.

Four casts = four fish. In 45 minutes or less I caught 15 fish including this gorgeous slab crappie. crappie

It was the most exciting 45 minutes of fishing I’ve experienced!  Toss a lure, pull in a fish, take it off the hook. Repeat.  The photo doesn’t do it justice — darn phone camera.

Then the river. We launched at 9:57 and would make the 8.5 miles in just over 6 hours. For the first 5 miles we fished a lot.I bagged 23 fish total including 6 bass (1 largemouth, 1 smallmouth, 2 Rock Bass, 3 Brownies). Fantastic day. Rained the whole way but we were prepared. The route was Norman at the Hwy 27 bridge back to Arrowhead.

Day 2 on the Caddo
Day 2 on the Caddo

In fact, as I write this (about 5:30 Sunday) it is pouring down rain. The drops on the camper roof are steadily thumping and popping and a cool breeze is wafting through the open windows.

Among the fish caught was this one Nice little largemouthwhich was the only largemouth of the day.  He was a real fighter. In fact, most of the fish we caught really performed, tail-walking and all, even the little bream.

Here’s a good shot of the river with my kayak in the foreground.

Kayak on the Caddo

And below that is a good shot of Larry and his giant canoe. Can’t believe how well he managed that 17′ canoe. Larry in canoe

The last picture is at the takeout the first day. Larry - end of day 1We exited at the Arrowhead lodge/canoe rental place run by “John.” And no, that’s not a fish Larry is wrangling there but a towel drying his feet — and likely massaging them a bit too as he had forgotten his wading shoes!

Speaking of wading shoes — my new felt-bottom waders and waterproof socks performed perfectly. No slipping on rocks and feet stayed DRY!

It’s almost 6 and the rain continues to pour down as I write. I love the sounds here. This morning, just before daylight, a whippoorwill broke the still of the cool night air. Before long he was joined by another and they serenaded me for a bit. Also in the morning, up at “that” cabin and pond, the bull frogs were in fine voice and at times I was certain that I was totally surrounded by them and that they would be pouncing upon me any minute — made me feel right guilty about all the frog’s legs I’ve eaten!

Headed home tomorrow, back to reality.

First major kayak outing

Saturday was interesting. As part of my new exercise regimen (I refuse to call it merely a “kick” already) I did a fast walk/jog to Atwood’s for breakfast. That’s almost two miles. Then, with a beautiful day dawning I loaded up the kayak and by 10AM or so was on the water, launching into Backbone Creek at Johnson Park in Marble Falls. And a gorgeous day it was for sure. Bright sun, cool enough to be comfortable, and away we went.

I tossed my new Wavy Worm at a few logs and brush pile, up under a few docks, all in Backbone Creek, then worked my way out into the open lake and headed upstream. Some likely bass-holding duckweed proved fruitless as did a few more docks. I eventually headed for the other side of lake which was still largely in shade. Added a crank bait, still to no avail on the rocky points and dropoffs. Up past Channel Oaks, and then it hit me.

My friend Joe Bray, a professional fishing guide who had put me onto the Wavy Worm also had mentioned the creek across from the sand islands opposite Meadowlakes. Why shoot, I was more than 1/2 way there — so why not?

I found the creek and worked my way up it a ways, started to get some light hits on a Mepps spinner bait. Neither the watermelon green Wavy Worm nor the old faithful purple worm was producing anything. I continued up the creek lined with big oaks and lots of vegetation. Just me, the kayak and the occasional whirring of line followed by the light splash of the Mepps. It was like being in another world when I was jerked out of my reverie by what surely must be a 5 pound bass hitting the little spinner. Alas, it was merely a perch, but a right nice one. I fumbled with the camera function on my cell phone but managed not to get a picture.

A bit farther up the creek I spooked a flock of ducks — maybe a dozen or more — who seemed quite perturbed at my presence. Indeed, a power boat would not have made it up where I now found myself. Continuing, I found my way blocked by a large oak fallen into and across the creeek which obviously went farther back. But what a “bassy” looking tree it was, lying there with its arms spread making a great place for bass to lurk.

Hooking up a fresh Wavy Worm with a “Texas rig” style I just knew my luck would be improving — and it did. After just a few flips and dips and jigs of the plastic worm this nice little bass was hooked (picture is bad due to having the camera on the macro setting).

fish

Tilt your head — and no, I was not on the verge of falling out of the kayak!

Soon it was time to head back that what do you know, the wind had shifted 180 degrees and, again, was against me. It was 2.1 miles back against a light breeze most of the way and I did end up with a good workout for the day. The total trek as shown on this GPS track was 5.25 miles for the entire route.

map2

Am I hooked on kayak fishing?  You bet!

A great day fishing …

… even if a day fishing is bad, it’s better than a good day in the office.  But if the day fishing is great … WhooHoo!

Robert and I met his friend Bruce at Sweetie’s donut shop in Sattler with anticipation of a day attacking trout on the Guadalupe River. Bruce is a most affable fella, as is Robert, and they were a lot of help to me in this fly-fishing adventure.

You see, I had not touched a fly rod in 35+ years. Trout had been stocked in the Guadalupe just last week so we knew fish were there … but would we catch any? We got all rigged up at one of the Guadalupe River Trout Unlimited sites and began to fish. Well, sort of (on my part). I initially was really whipping that rod back and forth throwing all the shoulder into it I could muster. Had that fly not been inert it would have been wanting off of that line! With some good coaching by Bruce I began to get the hang of this and through the day came to feel pretty comfortable with it all.

Bruce caught the first fish, a really (really!) nice one:

fish_09-01-14_2533_edited-1

and not too much later I managed to catch a nice fish, although not near the monster Bruce had. This is my first fish of the day: fish_09-01-14_2552_edited-11 and I hooked a total of 4 and landed 3.

Here’s the second one: 3rd fish

Needless to say, I was pretty pleased with those results. My casts improved during the day (according to Robert and Bruce) and I found the sporting of fly fishing to be outstanding. At the risk of a pun, I have to say I’m “hooked.”

The river was beautiful even with the stark winter grey of the landscape fish_09-01-14_2557as you can see from this shot looking downstream at our last hole.

Bruce has a really nice website (troutpad.com) all about fly-fishing that bears a lot of study and perusal and I’m sure I’ll learn a lot about the gear and fishing techniques.

Robert has offered to loan me a fly rod with which to practice, and I need a lot of that. I have to get away from the bass-casting mode where all the weight is in the lure and let the fly line do its work. Once I began to use the forearm and wrist, and to be patient on the back-cast and let the line load the rod, my casts got much better. I plan to take him up on that and spend some time down on Backbone Creek and get the technique smooted out some.

fish_09-01-14_2548 Here’s a close-up of another of Bruce’s fish. These are fat and beautiful fish, and all were released.

And here is a shot of my third fish which I just photoed and quickly released. fish_09-01-14_2553We tried 4 different spots during the day and caught fish at each of them. GRTU has parking spots leased with access to the river which makes it really nice to be able to get to this wonderful outdoor treat. Texas, unfortunately, has very little public land. Something on the order of 97% of all Texas land is privately owned. Most of the western states have huge amounts of public lands with access for fishing, hunting, hiking and other outdoor sports. I fear that the day is coming that few people will have experience to serenity of wading in the cool (well, cold!) clear waters of a cypress-lined river. There is nothing quite like it and I can’t wait until spring when the trees again look like trees and, hopefully, there is a bit more water in the river.