We put in at our usual spot, the South Llano River State Park. We endured quite a crowd and high river traffic on Saturday due to the Llano River Alliance Watershed's earlier announcement on their social media sites.
Texas Parks and Wildlife released 15 retired Guadalupe Bass broodstock back into the South Llano River on October 17, 2017. The broodstock were used to successfully restore the genetically hybridized South llano population. To celebrate this and other recent conservation successes for our state fish, Llano River Watershed Alliances is partnering with Texas Parks and Wildlife and Bass Pro Shops on a prize giveaway in which prizes will be presented to anglers who catch these Guadalupe Bass and return a tag Eligible Guadalupe Bass will have registered TPWD Floy Tags. If you catch one of these fish, please clip (do not pull) the tag and take a photo with the fish! Beginning October 17, 2017 and continuing until December 31, 2018, any angler who catches a tagged Guadalupe Bass from the South Llano River will receive their choice of prizes from an assortment of fly fishing gear donated by Bass Pro Shops.1Our friend Russell Hustead caught the first tagged fish on Thursday; one was caught on Saturday, and bird had killed a tagged fish but the tag was submitted. However, the crowds trying to catch one of these fish put intense pressure, and the Guads were rather shy on Saturday.
Friday, I had fished the stretch of river that was the southernmost end of the former Morgan Shady campground to just west of the bridge and hammered the Redbreast Sunfish. They destroyed my Bonefish Bitter.
|8 Inch Redbreast Sunfish|
|Healthy, pure strain Guadalupe Bass|
|Demolished Bonefish Bitter--its legs are gone|
Cody decided upon a new strategy this year, which was to put in and then by-pass the fishing at the state park. In years past, we would spend so much time fishing at the top part of the run, that we ended up just kayaking through the bottom part. Cody also targeted all the sideways and byways of the river, fishing the places others snubbed. We also decided to stay close together this trip. Cody slayed the fish; I only did okay, because I didn't fulfill my motto, "I Come to the South for the Rio," but Cody caught some beautiful Rio Grande Perch. They are some of my favorite freshwater fish. I did catch the most numbers of Largemouth Bass I have ever caught on the South Llano, and I think Nick of the Alamo Fly Fishers, who also said he caught the most LMBs he's ever caught, was right in that the high presence of kayaks and numbers of anglers really spooked the Guadalupe Bass in to hiding, Saturday.
|Cody with a Guadalupe Bass; something was wrong with its back|
|One of Cody's many Rio Grande Perch|
|4 Inch Bluegill on a Bonefish Bitter|
|4 1/4 inch Fingerling Guadalupe Bass on the Red-lipped CodyBugger|
|Hybridized Guadalupe-Smallmouth Bass, what the Alliance & TPWD are trying to eliminate|
|Pure Strain Guadalupe Bass|
At the end of the day, Saturday, I was making my way down the "Park Run" (where I fished Friday from RV park boundary to RV park Boundary), when I heard another water craft pretty close behind me. I didn't really pay attention to the boat, until I heard its pilot speak. It was our friend Kevin Hutchison in his blue pontoon. I let Kevin have the lead and watched him fish while we chatted, since Grad School had really interfered with my fishing the past two years. The days cooler weather combined with the high angler pressure just did not produce the fish it did the previous day. Regardless, I loved the rare treat of getting to see Kevin fish instead of being the guide.
We enjoyed our time in the Hill Country once again and are looking forward to next year's trip. However, we hope the Alliance contest occurs after Oktoberfisch, so we don't have to "combat fish."
1. Llano River Watershed Alliance. "Celebrating Conservation Milestones for the South Llano River and the State Fish of Texas." Last modified 21 October 2017. Accessed 23 October 2017. https://www.llanoriver.org/guadalupe-bass."↩