The Fishing is Good!
Blog by: Lloyd Tackitt , Texas 7/7/2019
Over my nearly 7 decades traversing this giant ball of rock and water I've managed to fish in a lot of places. From Texas to Alaska, California to Maryland, Florida to Washington, and over to the East China Sea, with a lot of stops in between. Fresh and Salt water both. I've fished with cane poles that are nothing more than a stick and string all the way up to deep sea rigs that are more like industrial cranes. I've owned boats that I built with my own hands and plywood to a regulation Texas bass boat. With canoes and kayaks in between.
I rarely fish outside the river in my backyard now, and it's been like that for quite a few years. Where I live I'm within easy driving distance of tons of places to fish. I could buy another boat if I wanted to. But I don't want to. I have a kayak that I sometimes use in the river to get further up the river than wading, sometimes even three times a year. It is enough.
I own, and very occasionally use, a spinning rig but the vast majority of my fishing these days is a fly rod, typically a 9' 5wt. I will use flys, and soft plastics, and live bait on it. I fish to catch the fish, not to cast to them. The fight is everything to me, and that is why I use the fly rod, it makes the fight much better and far more personal - there are no gears between me and the fish - it is my hand on the line. I feel the fish, not a reel. I've landed some big (to me) fish on that fly rod, one a 30 pound Buffalo, no I take that back, that one was on a 4wt. Fly rods are at no size disadvantage in this river.
Wade fishing is what I live for. And wade fishing has been quite scarce over the past year, Lake Whitney is a few miles up stream and it is a flood control lake, and also a hydro-electric generator. We've had an unusually wet year up to this point and the river has been far more full than is common.
But this past week it has finally gotten back down to wading levels during most of the day. They are generating (summer heat causes high electricity demand in Texas) and the river comes up around 4:30 in the afternoon. And it comes up pretty fast since they changed to an immediate water release system. Used to be they'd take and hour or so to get the water up to full steam, so to speak - but now they just slam the penstock wide open. And whoosh, out it comes.
I've been privileged to fish this week and what a wonderful thing it is! The water is clear and the river bottom is either bedrock or gravel, usually patches of both. It's a beautiful stretch of river, perhaps the most beautiful stretch of any river in the state. There are a few houses along this stretch but mostly they are back in the trees and not obvious. Huge Cottonwood trees that tower over a hundred feet, Pecans, Elms, Hacberry, Walnut, and the occasional Maple line the banks. Birds everywhere you look, all the varieties you can imagine.
Standing in fast shallow water and casting to the deeper pools under the shade of overhanging trees and pulling out Bass, Catfish, and Bluegills on a fly rod is the best fishing I know of.
Yesterday I took a 7'6" 2wt and targeted Bluebills. Some of them were pretty decent size, in the 10" range. In calm water on a 2wt that's a pretty good fight. Where I fished for them the river is narrowed down by a shelf of bedrock that squeezes the river down to a narrowness that speeds the water up a lot (Venturi Effect), and where I stand to cast the water is about 18" deep with a gravel bottom. I cast over into a waist deep hole under some overhanging tree limbs and the Bluegills quickly come out into the sunny, and shallow, and fast water where, with the fast current, they put a 2wt to the test. It is a complete and total joy. I'd frankly rather do that than to go trout fishing - something I have done a good bit of so I know what I'm saying.
Not only do the Bluegills fight like nothing else in fresh water America, but they are gorgeous to boot. Watching them cut back and forth against the current in the clear shallow water over a gravel bottom in the sunlight is beautiful. The fast current and shallow water and the high angle of the rod makes them jump out of the water quite a bit as well, something Bluegills aren't otherwise prone to do. It's a fantastic thing.
My fishing style and location is quite limited, - by my own preference. But when you can fish a slice of heaven and catch the kind of fish on the kind of equipment I have the privilege to catch, there's little point in going elsewhere.
Besides that, if I went somewhere else I wouldn't be able to fish with my dogs and they are outstanding company. Speaking of which, I'm going fishing now, talk to you later!