On Saturday morn, we never put in at the same spot, so we try to ease the pressure on fish and crowding on the waters. This year, Oktoberfisch shuttled people from the South Llano State Park, the South Llano River Lodge, and the newly constructed bridge at Flat Rock Crossing. We chose to put in at the State Park and float the 5.3 miles down to Morgan Shady Campground, with our good friends, Diane and Richard Blair, taking us back to get our car. Cody chose to fish (and row--ugh, regardless what Kevin Hutchison says, it kills me to row) from his pontoon boat, and I chose to fish from Cody's sit-on-top kayak. (I have much more experience with a kayak than a row-boat, let me say.)
Right after kayaking under the Park bridge, there is an outward bend on the southern side of the river with some nice shaded areas along the bank. I always fish this spot, and if I catch a fish here, I know I'm going to have a great day on down the river. I had predetermined that my theme for this year would be that I would fish flies tied and given to me by someone else. On Saturday, there was the largest hatch of Pale Morning Duns I have ever seen on a water body. Due to this hatch, I tied on a pretty little white popper tied by my friend Mark Wegmann.
On Friday evening, the Fredericksburg folks hold an orientation meeting. At this year's talk, white and orange were the pattern colors they said would be successful. So, keeping that information in mind, I tied on one of Jonathan Gonzalez's beadhead midge/WoollyBugger patterns in crawfish orange, with a hint of a clear-purplish mylar tail.
Cody Bell was a good 1/4 mile downriver and encountering no traffic or pressure, unlike myself. He buzzed me on the walkie-talkie, explaining that there was a nice, clear cove to which he had all by himself, but that he'd love to have some company. I paddled on downriver passed the park boundary, away from other folks, passing up some good spots, and found Cody. The cove was clear, surprisingly! (Most of Texas had received a desperately-needed, good rainfall the first of that week; Junction specifically received 5 inches of rain--Sah-lute! As a result, a lot of the downstream water was definitely tea-stained, but productive.) I fished the shady, tree-lined shore, and it was bream time. I caught two more Redbreast Sunfish and a Longear Sunfish on Jonathan's fly, but I seemed to lose the bite. So, seeing as I was with my man, it was time for the GirlieBugger.
We fished some more but with little luck, and came upon a nice spot with rapids rumbling right in front of us, so at 12:30, we had lunch. After finishing our Stripes' sandwiches, fruit (not Cody) and such, it was time to go. The crowd was still behind us, and we didn't want to get caught up in leap-frog fishing. Cody told me to go first, so I paddled upstream to align the kayak so I could properly shoot the rapid (and I needed every advantage, because this little slew was where my 8# rodtip was snapped and I lost my hat last year), and as I'm floating by, Cody exclaims he forgot to adjust his oars and for me to go on down, he'd catch up to me. One canoe had already past, with a kid in it, and no problem. What makes this little class 1 rapid daunting, is that the fast water is right up against the left bank, and there are huge grasses growing out of the side. Last year, those grasses hid a rather unfriendly tree branch about eye-level high. As a result, instead of ducking or using the paddle to push the grasses aside, people have a tendency to push away from it, but once someone does that, the current and the submerged tree creating the rapid, causes the craft to capsize. Believe it or not, this rapid is deep, and the eddy's swirls are obviously visible and numerous.
The canoe with the kid had beached and man and boy were fishing the outside bend riffles as I floated by. Then, another kayak came by, and it was one of the fellows who put in at the Park just ahead of us. I was wondering what Cody was doing, and why he wasn't coming on down.
Cody comes over the walkie-talkie and says, "Come back. Rescue the green water bottle and yellow kayak floating unmanned down the river."
I replied, "What? Come again? What did you say?"
Cody starts to repeat himself, but then cuts himself off saying, "Oh, I gotta go; I gotta save someone." Click. Dead silence.
I had started paddling back upstream passed the kayaker, passed the boy and man fishing, who were not too happy with me for spoiling their fishing spot. I see the green water bottle and kayak, and grab the bottle, position my kayak to intercept the yellow Ocean Kayak and paddle to shore. I beach my 'yak, and start walking upstream to where Cody had been with the unmanned kayak in tow. The man in the other kayak had beached his and started walking upstream as well. The current was swift, chilly, and hip-high. Then, I see Cody and a rather tall (6'3") man walking along with him. I was having to look down to power wade across the river, so I wasn't paying attention. The other 'yaker said he'd take the kayak from me, but I was curious, so I told him I had it. I gave the tall man his kayak, and then I noticed he was wet from head-to-toe. The man asked me about a fly rod, and I told him that I had not seen one. He took the kayak from me, walked over to his buddy, beached the kayak, and began talking.
He told his buddy that he believed he had almost died. He said he flipped his kayak at the rapids, and something was pulling him under. He chuckled and said that at least the sit-on-top kayaks flip back up quickly and easily, which was better than what he did. He then said he was frantically holding on to the grass, trying to breathe, but was sinking and didn't know what to do.
Cody waded in the water and told the man to grab his hand. The gentleman was reluctant at first, but on Cody's second request, the gentleman grabbed Cody's hand and came upon the shore. We waded along the river, looking for the missing fly rod. Cody went back to the spot where the kayak flipped. The rod was a 9 foot rod, so Cody was checking the river every 9 feet. He found the rod right where the capsizing occurred, caught in the submerged tree. Man and rod rescued, we returned to our boats and fishing. About 20 minutes later, the two men came floating by as Cody and I were hammering the Rio Grande Perch.
On Sunday, we decided to head to Crossing 1, and we fished some nice little riffles, but those Bluegills were very educated. We moved farther down to Crossing 2, and Cody found a sweet little honey hole that harbored the Guadalupe-Smallmouth Bass Hybrid. That 2 pound bass put an excellent bend in my 2# rod. I looked for more hybrids, but no more took my CodyBugger.