Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Current Conditions

Guadalupe River Tailrace 442 cfs. water temp low 50s, air temp 53 degrees, water is clear, with slight green stain, Cool, Rainy, Thunder, Lightning. winds forecast at 25-35 mph out of the west 7:50am. Wading is dangerous at these levels.

Fishing is great.......anglers report many big trout to the net on small flies.

GRTU leases are not crowed this morning.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Consider other Anglers

Over the years it has been my impression that anglers are becoming more and more inconsiderate of their fellow angler. Maybe the influence of my years as a child fishing the steams & lakes of Tennessee with anglers that were very considerate & courteous had a much larger impact than I realized.

I received a joke from a friend, awhile back, that said if you raise you’re child to be understanding, considerate & courteous, he will not be able to drive in Texas. It is a sad truth if you have driven in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio or Austin lately.

Everyone seems to think their schedule, or need to get somewhere fast because they did not plan, is more important than the other Guy or Gal. They will risk having a wreck to save 1 minute by running a yellow light or cutting someone off and then act amazed when they have to spend the whole day or several days dealing with all the issues of the wreck. All because they were trying to save a minute.

What does all this have to do with fishing? I’m seeing more & more, of this attitude, on the rivers, streams & coast of Texas. Anglers are becoming less & less considerate of other anglers. The attitude that, I drove all the way from Dallas or Houston to the Guadalupe, my time is more valuable than yours. The whole idea of getting out on the water fishing is the exact opposite of this type attitude. The attitude should be one of relaxing, being in the great outdoors, exploring new water & maybe even picking up a few fish. I can’t remember who quoted this but, it goes something like this “men have fished for hundreds of years and never realized it is not the fish they are after”

I have witnessed the actions of some anglers that are truly amazing. Tromping in just a few feet from another angler and fishing the same 10’ because they saw him catch a fish without asking politely if it is ok. Fishing one 5’ hole with a few fish in it all day long, not giving anyone else a shot & catching the same fish over and over, and then bragging about how many fish he caught. You might as well fish the kiddy pool at the TPWD Expo. Floating through the water a wading angler is fishing without trying to go behind or telling them you coming through, and try not to disturb the water by splashing the paddles, just expecting you have the right of way. YOU DON”T

My point, have some consideration. Treat others anglers the way you would like to be treated. Go out of your way to be considerate & understanding. If you’re fishing a hole and you have caught a few fish move on, give someone else a shot at it. You might go as far as to tell him what was working for you. Explore other areas; the point is to fish the river or stream, not a hole (kiddy pool).

If wading in near another angler, ask permission, if it is closer than a 100’. Almost 95% of the times they will say come on. If they object, either wait on the bank or slowly wade a little further up or down steam. If you’re the angler in the water, catch a few fish and move on. Don’t be a kiddy pool angler.

If you’re floating and come up on another angler, stop and see if you can get behind him. If not tell them you’re only way through is in front on him, tell them your coming through and then move through with as little disturbance as possible.

These are only a few examples, but the best rule of thumb is ask you’re self, if I was the other angler, what would I want if the positions were switched.

Be considerate, you never know, it might spill over into other areas of you’re life.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

How to adjust strategies for different water clarity.

These strategies are not the be all, end all, strategies of water clarity, but techniques that I have found productive & consistent. They were developed from 10yrs of full time guiding, books I've read, & other guides. One book I distinctly remember helpful, was Small Mouth Bass a handbook of strategies, the 1st addition was published in the 80's. Even though it focus is on Small Mouth, the water condition strategies, apply to most game fish, including Rainbow & Brown Trout.

Clear Water:
  1. The Clearer the water the smaller the tippet or Line.
  2. Small Flies or Lures (#18-#24 Flies) or (1/8, 3/16 oz Lures)
  3. Natural Fly & Lure colors (midge, emergers, hares ear, flies & (craw-fish, shad colored spinners)
  4. Subtle Colors (white, yellow, brown, black)
  5. Fish moving water for Trout & agitate the fly, for other fish & lures use a swimming retrieves.
  6. Presentation & longer casts (staying further away from target lies or structure)
  7. Minimum noise & stealthy approach.
  8. Lower light conditions preferred

Stained Water

  1. In- between conditions
  2. Fish have mixed reactions based on amount of stain in water (experiment with sizes & colors)
  3. In general lean towards dark water techniques

Dark Water

  1. Heaver tippet or line is acceptable
  2. Larger Flies or large bulky lures
  3. Lighter colored flies or multi-colored lures
  4. Bright colors
  5. Slower bottom bumping retrieves
  6. Shorter cast are exceptable
  7. Bright light condition are better

There are many other conditions that will effect the fishing, but you will find if you use these strategies constantly you're catch rate will improve.

Bill Higdon

Friday, May 8, 2009

Alert! !

Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) stream biologists have discovered the invasive algae Didymo in the Lower Mountain Fork River (LMFR) in Beavers Bend Park in Oklahoma. Didymo can be very destructive to river vegetation and insect populations, thus significantly affecting fish populations. The concern is that fishermen could unwittingly transport Didymo from the LMFR to the Guadalupe (or any other rivers), so I want to alert our members about this risk and inform them on what they can do to prevent transmission of Didymo.

A little background - Didymo (commonly called "rock snot", it appears as a whitish gray blob similar to wet toilet paper) is an algae that attaches to stream rocks and can completely cover the river bottom, thus suffocating vegetation and bugs. Obviously this can be detrimental to trout populations. It was probably transported to the LMFR by way of felt wading boots, gravel guards, wading staffs or any other devices that it could stay alive on while being transported from one stream to another. It has been in some rivers in Arkansas for at least a year. The main concern at this point is that we do not transport Didymo to non affected rivers such as the Guadalupe, the Blue River in Oklahoma, or any other rivers our members fish. What our members can do is thoroughly clean all their equipment immediately after returning from a trip to the LMFR. Further information on Didymo and what can be done to prevent spreading it can be found at the following site.

ODWC has requested that we please not try to contact them directly. Please ask anyone with questions to call or email me. As additional information becomes available I will pass it on to you.

Thanks Bill,

Sunday, May 3, 2009

River Etiquette

With the increased popularity of fly fishing, the rivers and streams of the the Country are fast becoming the choice for many new anglers. With the increased popularity, stream etiquette is more important than ever. In the old days, it was not all that difficult to elude the one or two anglers, met in a day’s outing. Today, eluding our fellow anglers is an ever-continuing and often insurmountable problem.

The prime rule is…….conduct yourself so as to disturb your fellow angler as little as the prevailing conditions allow. Here are a few additional recommendations from a number of different sources.

1. Respect other anglers’ rights. Don’t crowd another angler or make loud noises when another person is fishing. A good rule of thumb is, stay at least 100’ from the nearest angler. Let me repeat this one….100’. It’s not that far.

2. Approach the water quietly and cautiously. If you come upon another angler on the stream, enter well upstream or downstream. A 100’ comes to mind. Enter the water as quietly as possible. Avoid splashing and disrupting the water.

3. If you come upon another angler while wading in a river or stream leave the water and walk around them well away from the bank. Re-enter the water sufficiently far away from him. 100’ might be good. Pass an angler by giving them as much space as possible without endangering your safety or trespassing on private property. Wade quietly behind them when passing so as not to put the fish down. If at all in question about crowding another angler, just ask them if they feel you are fishing too close. If someone starts crowding you, tell them something like: “You’re getting a little close to me. If you wait a few minutes, I’ll be finished here and you can have it to yourself.” Above all, avoid confrontation.

4. When floating, always float behind the wading angler if possible. Even then warn them you are behind them to avoid getting hit by the back cast. Sometimes in low water conditions you will have to float in front of the angler. If you find yourself in this position, stop and wait, give them a chance to motion you through. If the angler does not see you, let the angler know you are coming through and make sure he/she does not have a fish on. Only paddle when necessary and then don’t splash or smack the paddles on the water. Short soft strokes. Stay as far as possible from the area being fished. Also, apologize, and let him know you had no other choice. Most anglers are very understanding.

On a more personal note, On opening day and most weekend mornings on some rivers, trout fishers are lined up shoulder to shoulder to catch the stocked rainbows. On other river the expectation of silence and solitude, in that setting, getting within one hundred feet of another angler could be considered close quarters. As far as distance goes, use your best judgment. It is different in different rivers at different times. Some fishers prefer silence and solitude to concentrate on their fishing, while others are willing to converse with those around them. Again, use your judgment.


Monday, April 27, 2009

Don't Just Focus On The Fish

“Don't just focus on the fish”. You probably think that is a weird statement coming from a guide. Maybe so, but let me tell you why I make the Statement. I've been fishing most of my life, starting in Tennessee as a child to present day in Texas. I've been a full time guide for the last 10 years and I've been blessed to meet and observe many anglers. I've fished with professionals to the first time anglers. During that time I've noticed the anglers who catch the most fish and enjoy themselves the most are the anglers that take it all in.

They are enjoying the fresh air, wildlife, plant life, sounds of the river, the reflections on the river, shape of rocks, and even the numerous insects. They take the whole experience in. As a result they are more relaxed, and aware of the things going on around them. Let me point out a few ways this improves the fishing aspect of the trip.

· Relaxing improves the casting & presentation. Stress and tension will cause jerky casts & sloppy presentations.

· Watching the wildlife is not only relaxing & beautiful but it can give you many clues to where the fish are. Just like the coast we have many bird predators, which are always looking for a tasty fish. Diving Cormorants (water turkeys) will always be where the fish are, Ospreys are always gliding above areas that are holding fish.

· Looking at the plant life can be a excellent way to spot a spider web which holds terrestrial insects, and colors that the fish are keying on.

· Watching the reflections on the surface can lead to spotting a fish in an area that does not normally hold fish. It also leads to spotting the beginning of a hatch. Dry fly fishing can be very productive if you catch the beginning of a hatch when they can spot your fly vs. boiling off by the thousands when your fly is just one of 10,000 bugs in the drift.

· Examining an interesting rock in the river can give you clues to what aquatic life is prevalent in the river.

· Listening to the sounds can alert you to near by Ospreys or a rising fish.

These are just a very few examples, but if you will focus on every thing around you & just relax, don’t focus on any one thing, your fishing will improve. If you take the focus off of just catching a fish, you will ultimately catch more fish.

Get out and enjoy Gods creation and relax.


Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Diversion Dams along the Guadalupe River

As the water begins to heat in the Spring. You should be begin to move further away from the diversion dam. The water will begin to heat from the surface first, so the water below the dam will begin to also heat up. The warmest water will be spilling over the top of the dam raising the temps below the dam. This will push the fish further down stream to cooler water. What used to be productive water close to the dam will not be as productive.

The warmer the temps get, what used to be good holding water will begin to hold less & less fish.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

2" makes a huge difference.

Laying your fly 2" from the bank instead of 4" can mean the difference of having a very productive day or just a so-so day.

River Banks erode and create undercuts in the bank just below the surface. This is a favorite holding spot for fish. It is a great location for ambushing other prey and also provides shade. As a result you must get your fly in very close for the fish to see it.

Get your fly in close and experience an increase in productivity.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Top Water Technique (Deadly)

A little something to go with the "2 inches makes a hugh difference" post. With top water fly, once you get it in tight, 2-3", let it set until the rings have completely disappeared, and then give it a little twitch, and get ready to set the hook.
Spring moves the fish

As we move closer to Spring the terestials are becoming more and more common. As result the fish are beginning to move closer to the banks. The occasional grasshopper or some other tasty morsel attracks the hungry fish. You will also begin to see more top water action close to the banks as Spring approaches.

Monday, March 9, 2009

How To Fish The Guadalupe River Tailrace

One of the best pieces of advise I can give you is, get a copy of “Fly Fishing the Tailwaters” by Ed Engle, Stackpole Books. Most of the comments made here are echoed in Ed’s Book. I sometimes refer to it, as the instruction manual for the Guadalupe Tailrace.

Rivers below dams are referred to as tailwaters or tailraces. The controlled release of water from a reservoir into the river below often moderates extreme flows from the upper river in times heavy rains, provides for increased water flow during dry periods, clears the water, and provides higher levels of nutrients. This makes for great Trout habitat year round.

The exception on the Guadalupe River is, several diversion dams are scattered throughout the first 13 miles of the tailrace. In the summer months when the temps reach into the high 90’s, what is normally, a great holding spot for feeding trout becomes much less likely to hold Trout. A diversion dam in the summer months has the warmest water flowing over the top of the dam which means the water below will have elevated temperatures. Trout will move further down stream to the cooler water.

Wading is a little more slippery in a tailwater, especially below water-storage reservoirs. The reason is not only does a more uniform flow created by the water release encourage the growth of algae and other aquatic vegetation which is clearer because of the regular flow and the added light that is available for photosynthesis. In addition, the water is drawn from the bottom layers of the reservoir tends to be rich with nutrients from organic debris that are on the floor of the reservoir bottom. The Guadalupe has been consistently around 200 cfs since June so the consistent flows have made it unusually slippery.

A few of the insects you will find in the Guadalupe Tailrace are common in other tailrace fisheries. BWO Blue Wing Olives , PMDs Pale Morning Duns, Caddis, Tricos are the prevalent insects.

Although, many trout are taken on dry fly imitations of the insects mentioned above, trout spend anywhere from 80-90 percent of their time feeding below the surface on the immature forms of aquatic insects. The point here is don't forget the nymph and midge box when you fish the Guadalupe Tailrace!

I've been fishing the "Guad" for 15 plus years and full time for the last 9 years. What I've found to be the most productive method for trout is nymphing. I use a dropper set up with an indicator. It consist of an indicator placed about 11/2 - 2 times the depth of the water. In other words, if you are fishing 3' depth of water, your indicator should be about 51/2'- 6' up the leader from the top fly. If you are using a spit shot it should be from the split shot, which is placed about 4"-6" above the first fly. The top fly is used as an attractor, something to get their attention. Normally I use a #14-16 for the top fly. The dropper fly is much smaller, #18-22. This fly is what I call trout candy. You would be amazed at the number 18"- 26" trout are caught on a #22 size fly.

If your not getting hook-ups go deeper. Add weight until you finally hit bottom, then back off a little. I think, one of the reasons trout eat sub-surface food 80-90% of the time is, they are more likely to take food below them than above. Change flies often, this is hard to do, but if they don't take it in ten casts, the odds are they won't ever.

Line control is a must. You will hear that you must have a dead-drift to be effective. You want a controlled drift, not always a dead drift. Sometimes you want to agitate your nymphs. If your in a slow moving section of the river, a lot of times giving the nymphs some action helps the fishing. If you think about it, lots of fish are caught on the swing, the end of the drift when the fly begins to get down stream tension bringing the flies off the bottom, enticing a strike. It is the movement of the fly that entices the strike.

Where trout hold on the "Guad". Trout hold and feed on the edges of horizontal columns of water. What I mean by this is, you may have as many as three columns of water moving at different velocities. The water may be moving at a higher velocity (moving faster) 4' from your position, and a slower column 8' from your position. And then fast again 12' from your position. This can be caused by the dept of the water, a pocket of slow moving water behind a rock. There are many different things that can effect the flow of water but if you focus on the water you can see the different columns of velocity. Trout are lazy and big trout are lazier, so you will find them on the edge of a faster moving column laying in the slower moving column, where they can move out into faster column, where the food will be drifting, and then back to the slower water, where they do not have to expend as much energy. Watch for bubble lines, this is usually where the most food is in the drift.

Last but not least, Catch and Release. Land your fish as quickly as possible. If you must take a picture, wet your hands, handle gently, don't squeeze the fish. Take a deep breath, and hold it, if you have to exhale, you've had the fish out of the water to long. An option to photograph the fish is, move to the bank or very shallow water while landing the fish and then take your photo with the fish in the water next to your foot. I must warn you, you cannot exaggerate the size if it's next to your foot. You can also remove the fly without ever taking the fish out of the water.

One last thing, River Etiquette. It is just common sense. Never wade or float into another anglers vicinity, never crowd, even if he's catching one on every cast. Ask if you can float around or give him a wide berth when wading around. Move at least 100', let me repeat that 100', let me repeat that one more time 100', above or below him/her before fishing. It is not that far. 10 basketball goals. If you are the angler catching the fish, net 4-5 fish and then move on and let someone else have a shot. Even if no other angler is waiting, or around, net a few fish and move on. If you use the Tips & Tricks above, you'll hook up on more fish at different locations. The idea is to fish the stream not a hole. You will learn much more by fishing lots of habitat.

Bill Higdon