The DFF hosted Kevin Hutchison in '09 and '11. I hear Kevin's presentation every time I attend the Dr. Ed Rizzolo Fly Tying Festival in Houston. For Cody's 50th birthday, I gave him an autographed copy of Hutchison's Fly Fishing the Texas Hill Country. So at the Gulf Coast's Conclave Auction, it was a given that I was going to bid on Kevin's guided trip, and boy was I glad that Andy Niland decided to bow out when he did, because I had bid my limit.
Winning the auction was the easy step; the difficult part was planning where to go fishing in the Texas Hill Country during one of the worst summer's since 1980. The Blanco is dry. The Pedernales is dry. The Llano is dry, and the South Llano is so low, it would be a dry "wading" trip with hysterical whoops, because we caught a fish in the first four hours. (The South Llano's drought conditions also have me worrying about Oktoberfisch!) The San Marcos is spring-fed, so it has water, even though the levels are lower than usual for a Texas summer; so, the San Marcos River it was.
Cody and I checked out the redesign of the river at Rio Vista Park, and the water flows looked good. We drove farther downstream to San Marcos Retreat (just down from Pecan Park RV). The water level was down, but the water was clear and definitely moving. Then, we drove to Shady Grove Campground at FM 1979 just outside Martindale, where we met up with Kevin. After going over the day's plans, we hopped in the boat. Kevin guided us in a 2-man Pontoon, that he rowed similar to a drift boat.
"The left is in play," meant we were fishing the left bank, "Now, the right is in play," meant we were changing banks. The boat seats swivel 360 degrees, so it was easy to cast wherever we were supposed to cast. We fished riffles for Guadalupe Bass, tree and foliage structure for Largemouth, Smallies, and Sunfish, and deeper, dead pools for Rio Grande Perch, and we had a blast! Cody and I both used a 2# floating and 4# sinking. Our fly selection range varied, and we fished Cody's GirlieBugger and CodyBugger, Kevin's Swamp Monster and Bass Candy, Mike Verduin's Cap Spider, and a chartreuse and white Clouser. We fished deep in the water column to just under a foot, but nothing floating.
The day's trip lasted seven hours and began at FM 1979 and ended at FM 1977. Only once did we have to pull the boat for about two feet, and that was because there were three people in the boat, which was steered far in to the shallow shore to avoid a low hanging tree. We broke for a wonderful shoreside smorgasborg of sandwiches, chips, fruit, and delicious brownies. Kevin has the neatest table service gadgets to make a shore lunch seem like a five-star, Top Chef restaurant. The fishing was just as good after lunch as it was before.
We caught 22 Bluegills, Longears, Redbreasts, one Guadalupe Bass, six Rio Grande Perch, and a dozen Laregmouth Bass. The greatest catch of the day was Cody's 3 1/4 pound Largemouth on his 2# rod. Casting a Swamp Monster to the shallow shore in moderate vegetation, Cody stripped a slow retrieve to keep the fly on the bottom, saw the fish and pulled the retrieve within its sight, and watched that Largemouth hammer the fly. Fine fighting fun!
For me, it was all about catching the Rio Grande Perch. I love those fish absolutely. I also learned about the sores they develop on their bodies. As they mature, their mucus glands slow their production, and because the cichlids stay in slow-moving water, non-harmful bacteria attach themselves to the cichlids. Also, the Rio Grande Perch mate for life.
Cody and I had a great day fishing with Kevin, and that was before he gave each of us the complimentary t-shirt and aluminum water bottles. We learned a lot, caught many fish, and spent the evening reminiscing and eating ribs at Black's BBQ in Lockhart. A fine day, indeed, and one that we will repeat.
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