Sunday, April 29, 2012


El Fisho Jr. and I took a trip to the town of Sattler, Texas on the infamous River Road. There are a couple of places for fishing there, and the one we went to is a campground/rv park/rental cabins and canoe/kayak/raft/tube rental. They've got a 1/4 mile of accessible frontage at this spot, and nearly the entirity of the land opposing this spot is cliffs, meaning more or less deeper water and several deep pools within casting range.

It's always interesting to see what the river level is at this spot. I've come to this area many times over many years, nearly for forty years. It's one of the few spots in Texas where rainbow trout and brown trout survive year round. The cold discharge from the bottom of spring fed Canyon Lake is cold enough to sustain the cold water needing trout year round, and I've seen some large trout caught in this area over the past many years of avid fishing.

We fished near the fourth crossing, and if you've ever been to the area you know the bridge I speak of. I've taken out countless times in canoes, kayaks and rafts just under the bridge, and this stretch of river was once almost the end of me in The Great Kayak Wreck story.

We didn't have any luck catching today, but we had a good time fishing. We saw two groups of momma ducks with teeny tiny ducklings learning the ways of the area. We saw a pretty good sized water mocassin, which slipped into the water from some rocks about 5 feet from us.

El Fisho Jr. spotted the snake first. I had to repress my first instinct which was to draw and fire the CCI shotshell from my Smith and Wesson snubbie. The snake was certainly within "for sure" shooting distance, but we were on the property of some folks who don't care much for gunplay on their property.  The snake went on about it's business after checking us out and deciding us unworthy of further attention.

There was no hatch to speak of, other than mosquitos and some flies. It was a cloudy but already hot and humid day. Fortunately, there was plenty of shade where we were at as well as good fishing access to the river with gentle sloping shores.

I did observe lots of minnows of some sort in the shallows, and I put on some different varieties of GULP short lead-headed minnow type imitation. Sorta like a mini Mr. Twister worm with a curly tail. It had a good action in the water, and that particular lure, in mostly green colors replete with fish eyes, has done well for me on the Guadalupe before.

I saw several fish swimming in and out of the big holes we were fishing in. Several large channel cats and what could've been trout or smallmouth/largemouth/guadalupe bass. It was too cloudy and although the water was clear and green, the shadows on the water from the clouds didn't help me determine what types of shapes were cruising the deep holes beneath the cliffs.

I saw a couple of gar as well, quickly getting my lure past them on the off chance they might go for it. It's happened before. Gars are funny fish, and nasty fish. I just don't like messing with them. It's almost impossible to retrieve a lure a gar has swallowed without incurring some kind of injury to the hands. Gar have rows and rows of sharp teeth and an abrasive outer skin. They are prehistoric and I care not to catch them or mess with them really in any manner.

I remember reading an old Ed Zern story that had a receipe that is good for gar. Zern, the back page humorist for Field and Stream in days of yore, I think had this receipt about carp. Zern's formula was simple: cut the carp into steaks and marinate the steaks in a fifth of whisky in the fridge. In the morning, throw the carp away and drink the whisky.

Seems like a waste of good whisky by making it all fish tasting but the receipe was funny.

The brunch and yuppie bed and breakfast crowd was out in force in Gruene this afternoon, so much so we couldn't find a reasonably near to the restaurant parking spot. Nor could we park anywhere near the Gruene outfitters store. The Fly Shop wasn't open in Sattler, so there was no getting sage advise and "hot fly" tips from fishing emporium employees and customers.

As it was, there was no surface action on the river, so the fly rod stayed in the case. I used a decades old Berkley Cherrywood spinning rod topped with a mint condition Mitchell 300 spinning reel, sporting 12 lb. Stren mono.

El Fisho Jr. had a lightweight Daiwa rod topped with a red Abu Garcia Abumatic 170 spincasting reel. We also had an ultralight Berkley fairy wand with a Shimano mini-spinning reel holding 4 lb test. It never broke the water.

We had other rods and reels packed in a duffle in the car. On previous trips to the Guadalupe, there have been catfish runs in the spring, when channel cats were seemingly in a feeding frenzy. Chicken livers were always the best bait for cats on the Guadalupe for me, on a large saltwater hook. You need a bit heavier duty rig for the larger catfish, and to force them out of their hiding spots amid the rocks that are everywhere on the shoreline and underneath the water.

So I usually bring along some heavy duty freshwater/light duty saltwater rods and some big Zebco 808 Saltwater reels and some gray Abu Garcia Abumatic 290's loaded up with 20 lb test. These are travel rods and thus fit in a small duffle that doesn't leave the car unless the cats are happening. And today, although we were not fishing for catfish, they were there and the ones I saw looked like healthy specimens.

Both El Fisho Jr. and I got snagged numerous times on a rock shelf that was at the edge of one of the deep holes we were fishing. Fortunately, changing positions on the bank and stern pulling resulted in us recovering our lures on all occasions.

But alas, today was a fishing day and not a catching day. We did have a major equipment failure that I am sorry to see. I have a REBEL brand hip roof brand tackle box of which I've gotten some really good years of service out of. It's been to the Bahamas and numerous other fishing locales in the past 30+ years I've had it. Today, it's plastic handle decided to break off on both ends as El Fisho Jr. and I were heading down the hill to the river's edge. El bummer.

Thank goodness it didn't open when it hit the ground and tumbled.
It wasn't loaded up too heavy, because hauling it back up that hill was much more full of effort than taking it down with the newly broken handle. As it was, we didn't need much out of the box and could have made do with a shoulder bag, but I wanted to have a variety of items that had proven successful in the past.

Today was one of those great days you remember forever.

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