03 May 2011

Box Canyon & Cow Creek at Lake Amistad

Monday--too windy and too cold to fish.

Tuesday--What a difference a day makes. Calm winds—3mph, calm seas—smooth as glass, made for an enjoyable day. Wondering what fishing the day after a storm would produce, we waited before hitting the water. The morning was still cool, 58°F, but the sun shone without a cloud in the sky to block it. We started differently beginning our trip at Box Canyon. With maybe a dozen trailers in the lot, we knew we would not spot many people, so we headed up river to buoy 21, near to a cove we coined last year as “Anchor Cove” because of its appearance as one on a map. While on our way there, on the Mexican side we saw an airplane land on the water, collect water, and take off. It was all done in such slow motion, that at first, we thought it was a kite. We saw no smoke, so we thought there was a pilot-in-training. It always turned at the buoy, never venturing into American airspace, and was not very loud, either.


Cody forgot his hand-held GPS, which has waypoints from previous trips marked, so we navigated by map, and his new Hummingbird GPS/Fish Finder. Lowrance GPS is better, but the clarity of the images produced from the fish finder was stellar. Between buoy 21 and buoy 22 are coves that have islands at their mouths, so we decided to fish them. We saw many bass coming from the deep chasing our flies, but then, they turned off. For almost an hour, we watched this action, unable to figure out what was happening, but it was good to see fish and have good water clarity. The depth was 22 feet and we could watch our flies with ease. On the fourth cast, using my 4# sinking line, I caught a nice little Longear, but that was it for a while. Finally, on the windward side near some cane, using Duane Hada’s Creek Crawler, Cody hooked up with two nice bass--1½ lbs. and 1¼ lbs., and it was FishOn from there.

We fished the coves set just behind these islands using the trolling motor. The winds picked up, but with the bends and turns, we received cover, as well. We named one cove that was new to us, “Carp Cove,” because there must have been at least 50 Carp, and wherever the Carp were, so were the Gar, with fingerling Largemouth Bass following them. Cody hooked up with some more Largemouths with his biggest being one weighing in at 2¼lbs. Back in the shallows of this cove, there must have been 20 carp tailing; it was like looking at tailing Bonefish. Cody cast to them, but they spooked easily and ignored the CodyBugger. I was having a terrible time with my hook set and had lost four fish, with one being a White Crappie. Having fished out this cove, we moved to the next one.

Being deeper, we switched to heavier rods with sinking lines. Cody hooked up with three more bass, and I lost three more, but we were really interested in the Carp behavior. With these Carp less skittish, Cody had a theory that if we tossed behind them and pulled the fly beside them, that attracted their attention without making them jittery. Using a lighter rod, Cody tested it out and had CarpOn, until it broke off in a tree. Three more turned and gave chase to the fly after that, but we didn’t hook up with any more.

Exhausting this cove, we moved on out to the main body and began heading down river. We were looking for last year’s Anchor Cove without our GPS. We thought we found it, but its appearance was really different from last year’s. Again, I had two nice Largemouths on that threw my fly topwater. While frustrated from the all the lost fish, eight total for the day, since they were doing it topwater, I could really see some interesting feeding habits. The bottom and water clarity changed from hard limestone, crystal clear waters, to silt and cloudiness. We explored the rest of this area, but it was getting on 4 p.m., and we were wasting time here.

We headed back down river, and now the plane was dropping its water loads over land, which was really pretty cool to see. With the fires raging in the Davis Mountains four days previously, we believed this was a training mission for Mexico’s pilots, just in case the fires spread southward along the mountain range.

We motored up Cow Creek past the cliffs to one of Cody’s fishing spots, where we saw Bass tailing. I had not seen Bass tailing, but due to the water clarity, we could definitely tell it was a Bass. Cody landed a rather piggy Redbreast Sunfish, and I finally landed a small Largemouth. I had been pleased that I was having many hook-ups with the Bass Brunch Threadfin Shad pattern, because I had not fished it before, but it was finally nice to have a fish in the boat.

Seeing that light was beginning to wane, we moved back down the creek to fish some of the eastern coves near its mouth. We chose one, and then chose the left arm of the cove. I like the coves that have many bends to it, and this one also had nice walls buffering it. In testing my theory that one of our green Bonefish Bitters would mimic grass and attract the Carp found earlier in the day, I still had it tied on my 4#. We were tired; it was near the end of the day, so we stowed the heavy rods. I ended up wrapping my fly around the only protruding branch, so I trolled the boat to the cliff, and Cody told me to hold the boat, because he saw raccoons. They were big, nesting in a hole, and a little shy. Cody took their photos and off we went. The day’s mild winds were dying, the light casted long shadows, and the fish began to roll. We watched a couple of spots where Bass continued to roll and hit the water where the cove became very shallow. Cody cast to them and BassOn in two different areas. Now, I had called one of the spots, but seeing as how I wrapped my fly around the end of my line, I gave the spot up to Cody. We both believe in creating good karma, and even though we don’t want to do something, because we do, we believe good karma comes back to us. Cody said I would have good karma, because I gave him my spot.

It’s important to note, that while I was interested in the Carp’s behavior earlier in the day, I do not like Carp. To test out my Bonefish Bitter theory, earlier in the day we had returned to Carp Cove only to find that less than a dozen remained. I did wonder what caused this change and to where they had gone, but I really could care less about catching Carp. I think they are slimy and ugly and do not seek them out, “Golden Bonefish” or not. It’s also important to note, that one can not break the law or the rules, because they are set. What one can do is break one’s will about the rule or the law.

I cast to the same spot I gave to Cody just before, and Holy Cow, FishOn! I had seen that silver flash and the tugging commenced. I thought I had a 4 lb. Bass on my line, but this fish wasn’t tiring, and the bow in my 4# was a true arc. I reeled in line; he took out line; he went under the boat twice, and we still couldn’t tell what kind of fish was creating this commotion. Cody couldn’t decide whether to get the net ready or the camera ready, and all the while, I hear, “Just keep him out of the brush, good woman, keep him out of the brush.” Then, Cody jokingly says, “What if this is a Carp?” I am pretty excited, and suddenly, he quit fighting, side rolled to the surface, and it was a Carp. Cody started laughing; I really wanted to land this fish, and whiz, he took off straight for the bottom. I put a hard bend in the rod, because the tip was actually lower than the butt, and the Carp came back up to the side, where Cody netted him. I apologized to Norm, who was rolling in his grave, but the TX Fishes contest broke my will against catching Carp. It was fun, a lot of fun, but after this multispecies contest is over, I will not seek out this ugly fish. Call me a snob, but I do not like Carp.

Dusk. Carp commotion over, and top water action turned on. The Bass were crashing the surface—hard and often, so much so, that it looked like people were standing on the cliff walls chunking rocks down on the water. We stow all our rods and drag out the poppers on our 6#s. Ugh, at the end of the day, where a lot of casting has occurred, our arms, hands, and bodies were sore, but the adrenalin rush from the splashes everywhere kept us going. Cody landed another large Redbreasted Sunfish. We each had BassOn, but neither of us landed them. With just a little sunlight left, we headed back to Box Canyon vowing next year to land more fish on topwaters.

Totals:  Cody Bell, most fish with 13 for the day; Julia, big fish with 3½-pounder for the day.

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