Saturday, February 21, 2015

Tour of Texas: Sabine River White Bass

The only body of water in Texas that was known to hold white bass prior to 1932 was Caddo Lake. Texas Parks and Wildlife teamed up with the Oyster Commission and transplanted 13 brood fish from Caddo Lake into old Lake Dallas which is now Lake Lewisville. By 1938 the following lakes were stocked with white bass: Kemp, Buchanan, Medina, Eagle Mountain, Waco and Wichita. Today there hardly isn't a body of water across Texas that doesn't have white bass found in it.

The Sabine River has a reputation for producing one of the best runs of white bass the state can offer. You see beginning in late winter and early spring white bass leave Toledo Bend and run up the Sabine to spawn. Toledo Bend Reservoir is 185,000 acre and is the fifth largest man made reservoir in the United States. Toledo Bend is pretty much an inland sea and has an incredible amount of biomass that helps these fish grow to Texas size proportions. White bass also known as sandbass or sandies can grow to 10 inches or better in one growing season within Toledo Bend. The current state record white bass on a fly rod is 3.36lbs and I can guarantee there are plenty of white bass that will break this record in the Sabine River.  

Just south of Carthage Texas there is a campground that offers access to the Sabine. River Ridge Fishing and Camping ran by Jane and her husband Tom who is a Texas Game Warden. They offer camping, RV hook ups, cabin rentals, guided fishing trips and hog hunting during the off season. There is a boat ramp on the property for you to launch your boat from our you can just launch kayaks and canoes from the sandy beach your camped on.

So a group of us where headed out to the Sabine for our yearly trip this weekend. One of my buddies wife went into labor a little earlier than expected so that put a end to his weekend fishing plans. My other buddy wussed out because the weather man said there was some rain in the forecast. The run would be over before I had another weekend to make it down to the Sabine so I went ahead with the plan and made a quick solo trip. I arrived at the river midday Friday and immediately hit some of the sandbars that we caught fish on last year. With no bites and things just not feeling right after a few hours and no fish to show for my efforts I decided to move on. As I was making my way up river to a creek I was flagged over by a bank fisherman in a kayak. Low and behold it was an old buddy that I haven't seen in years. Its a small world some times. Needless to say he wasn't having much luck either and everyone we had talk to on the river was reporting the same slow conditions. I continued my run up the river to the mouth of a creek. I set up anchor and fished the water color change where the clearer water from the creek mixes with the turbidity of the Sabine. With only a little light left I was able to pick up several small males and a couple fat females in short order. Light was fading fast and I had to make a 5 mile run to get back to camp so I pulled up anchor. On the ride back to camp I formulated my game plan for the next morning. There are a number of creeks that run into the Sabine South of camp so at first light in the morning I was going to head that way.

Getting on the water and heading down river around 6:30am I was passed by several boats heading the same direction. I felt confident I made the right choice relying on the assumption that these other boats had fish located.  As I neared these creeks I saw what I didn't want to see, half a dozen boats in a few hundred yards of the river. They were anchored up casting to sandbars picking up a fish here and there. After a slow 30 minutes and no fish for me and another 3 boats showing up I decided this isn't going to work for me. I don't mind fishing with a few people, but one of the reasons I go fishing is to get away from the crowds. Defiantly to many boats for my liking so I pulled the anchor and headed back up river to the creek I finished at the nightbefore. After getting anchored up and my line stripped out it wasn't long before I started catching fish. The fishing was never really on today but I was catching 5-6 fish per hour. Defiantly not the back to back red hot fishing that sandbass fishing can be. Picking through some small males I was still able to pick up a good 20 or so big females. I did catch a 2lb 9 oz female and then on the next cast I caught a 2lb 12 oz fish, then a small male came on the third cast. And I didn't have any other fisherman around me all day. Overall it was a good day fishing and look forward to doing it again next year.

Fish of the trip; 
2lb 12 oz White Bass

Average size female from the Sabine River is
typically going to run 15-16".

These Sabine River fish are fatties.

Once you catch some Sabine River Sandies it will be hard not to turn into a Sand Bass Snob and expect all your sand bass to average close to 2lbs. This is the average size fish in the DFW creeks. Fun but not a Sabine Sandy.

Rods, Leaders, and Flies
Rods: 3wt, 4wt and 5wt fly rods will make for some fun white bass fishing.
Leaders : The water is muddy in the sabine. I use 4ft of 15-20lb fluorocarbon for the sole purpose of being able to pull free flies that have found a snag on the bottom of the river. The fish aren't line shy and the water is to muddy for them to see the line. It sure save some flies at the end of the day by using the heavier leaders/tippit.  
Flies: Chartreuse, chartreuse, chartreuse is the color for white bass. 2" clousers will keep you hooked up all day.

Conservation Tip: The limit on white bass is 25 fish per day with a 10" minimum. Just because the limit is 25 doesn't mean you have to keep 25. Please only keep what you will eat and release the rest to continue spawning.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Tour of Texas; Guadalupe River Trout

As the southern most trout fishery in the United States the Guadalupe River below Canyon Dam gives Texas anglers an opportunity to catch rainbow trout year round in the Lone Star State. In 1964 the Army Corps of Engineers impounded Canyon Lake. The cold water being released from the bottom of the dam would displace the native warm water species that occupied the Guadalupe. With optimal flows the water is cold enough to support trout for the first 10 miles below Canyon Dam. Lone Star Brewery started stocking the river with rainbow trout first. TPWD followed and began experimenting with different species of trout to determine which would be the most suitable trout for the Guadalupe; in the end it was the rainbow trout that did best in the Guadalupe. About the same time, a small group of Texans, who enjoyed trout fishing, came together; Bill Parvin, Dick Finta, James Keeton, Bob Newman, Chad Oliver, Bill Pabst, Glenn Richardson, Lt. Col Paul and Hazel Schubauer, Jim Vynalek, and Bill West, who later founded the Guadalupe Chapter of Trout Unlimited. Currently GRTU is the largest local Trout Unlimited Chapter.

2015 Trout Fest will be held February 20th, 21st and 22nd and will be held at Rio Raft. There will be some great guest speakers like: Kelly Galloup, Pat Dorsey, Frank Smethhurst, and Wanda Taylor. There will be some great tiers giving fly tying demonstrations though out the day along with fly casting instructors to help you brush up on your casting. The evening of the 21st the Flyfishing Film Tour will start at  6pm.

The Guadalupe river is surrounded by private property and access to the river can be difficult. TP&W has addressed this issue by teaming up with property owners to give the public free access to the river during December 5, 2014 – March 5, 2015. Texas Parks and Wildlife has temporary lease agreements with Mountain Breeze Campground, Rio Raft and Resort, and Whitewater Sports. Anglers have free access to the river from 30 minutes before daylight until 30 minutes after dusk. They may use the properties for bank fishing and to launch non-motorized watercraft such as rafts, kayaks and canoes for the purpose of fishing. If you are looking for additional access to the river, GRTU has a lease program with multiple access points to the river. Not only does GRTU give additional access to the river it also does supplemental stockings in additional to what TP&W stocks. GRTU fish are typically larger fish than those stocked by TP&W. For additional information on joining GRTU or GRTU lease access program please follow the link; GRTU. 

To me fishing in cloudy/light rain is my favorite weather to fish in. When I hit the Guadalupe it was just beyond grey light with a low ceiling of clouds and light mist the conditions were prime for a good day on the water. I started the morning off stripping wooly buggers changing between white, olive and chartreuse. I had one really good fish come up and wake then swirl on the olive bugger, It was pretty exciting to see even though the line never got tight to the fish. I landed one small fish on the chartreuse bugger and missed a couple more but the fish just didn't seem all that aggressive so I switched up my offerings. Rigging up a nymph rig I dropped a wd-40 and pheasant tail below an indicator. The bites didn't come quick today but I was able to pick of a few fish and one really good rainbow that made up for the slow bites. I think I ended up with roughly 6 rainbows to the net with another 3 or 4 missed fish.

A nice healthy rainbow from the Guadalupe River.

The fish of the day. 

This is an average stocker the TP&W puts
into the Guadalupe River.  

Rods, Leaders and Flies
Rods- My favorite trout rod is a TFO BVK 10' 4wt. I over line this rod with a 5wt line to help turn over indicators and heavy split shot. The 10' length of this rod makes mending easy and also gives you an additional foot gives you alittle more reach while high sticking.
Leaders- I like a 7.5' Rio Tapered leader in 3x. I will then attach 2 feet of 4x or 5x tippet with a blood knot.
Flies - The fly of the day was a size 18 pheasant tail. I also caught fish on a olive wd-40 and wooly buggers.