Many Mini Fish in Texas
by Les Albjerg
To begin I want to thank John Evans for pointing out how easy it is for an out of State person to fish their State Parks. I just got back from a business trip to Austin Texas and I had three windows of time to go fishing.
By the way if you are going to travel, I would suggest you don't take your Daiwa Tankei 1500SK line holder box with you with Keiryu rigs made up in it. I was bomb checked both going and coming by the TSA. I asked the gal in Texas what the problem was, and she said on their screen it looked liked a possible bomb due to the hooks. Now to the fishing.
On Monday I was hoping to fish McKinney Falls State Park. A thunderstorm thwarted that opportunity. On Wednesday I had some time to fish, but not as much as I thought so I didn't make it down to Lost Maples. I fished Lockhart State Park. My first catch of the day was an Oak Tree! I found a nice pool below an old CCC dam on the creek. I tried a Utah Killer Bug and I learned how to herd micro fish in Texas! One time I had over 20 of them follow the fly right up to me. It was great for laughs, but not catching! I then switched to the smallest fly I had with me a size 16 bead headed Black Killer Bugger. I finally began catching fish. I caught a lot of little bluegills at Lockhart, but I couldn't get a Micro Fish to bite sufficiently or maybe I wasn't detecting the bites on the Daiwa Kiyose SF 30. It really wasn't the right rod for this trip. I wish I had taken my Shimotsuke Kiyotaki 24 as well. I also began to see why Chris is so excited about the Suntech Keiryu Special 27. It would have been the ideal rod for what I was doing and the streams I fished.
So, I had 5 Black Killer Buggers with me, and when I was down to one, I switched over to a beaded Squirmito fly. I had lots of hits, but no takers on the sunfish, but I did manage to catch a nice catfish of about 16 inches. He wiggled loose of my hand as I was trying to get the camera, so no picture!
The big lesson learned is you can go too minimal! I had one of my fly boxes out with flies that are size 18 and smaller and didn't throw it in! That said, I had a wonderful late afternoon and caught dozens of fish. I had the creek all to myself. I saw a wild turkey, and a snake swam across the creek at the bottom of one of the pools I fished. I used several of the lessons I learned from the Discover Tenkara downloads that Chris is offering. I fished most of the good spots from several different angles, and did my best to make each cast count. I ended the day feasting on some of Black's famous BBQ! The end of a great late afternoon and evening of fishing.
On Friday, my plane wasn't supposed to leave until 6:00. I really thought of running down to Lost Maples, but I could only fish for maybe 2 hours, and there was a heat advisory. The little bells went off saying don't do it. It is good that I didn't since my flight got all screwed up. That is another story. So I headed to McKinney Falls State Park for some fishing. I asked in the office if there were Guadalupe Bass in the river. Their answer was, "Yes, but who would want to catch those, the State record is just over 3 pounds." I let is slide. The ranger then showed me several pictures of large catfish. I told him I was more interest is adding the bass to my list of species. He got out the map and showed me where to go. By the way, I have never met nicer folks than the rangers at the the two State Parks I visited. I didn't have the morning all to myself. The pool I really wanted to fish was invaded by some swimmers. I headed downstream, and began catching mainly pumpkinseed sunfish on my last killer bugger. I then remembered reading that Guadalupe like moving water. I worked my way to the upper falls and began fishing some moving water. As I worked my killer bugger to me, I had a beautiful Guadalupe bass follow it right up to my feet! I was so excited. I worked that fish for at least 10 minutes and couldn't get it to strike. I tried several other flies. I switched to a minimal dace streamer tied on a 14 hook. There were 3 Guadalupe bass in that running water, but I couldn't get one of them to strike. I stepped back about 12 feet into a very clear pool, and lead one into it. I wiggled the streamer and he just finned there and let me admire how pretty he was. I had to be content with just seeing one. That is OK because that is what I really wanted to do anyway. No its not, I wanted to catch one, but I'll settle for what I got!
I figured that the pool I wanted to fish above the upper falls had settled down after the swimmers had left. I was herding micros again with the black bead headed bugger. I caught about 8 sunfish and then horror of horrors, I snagged a rock and broke off. I mumbled to myself, "I sure wish I had some red wigglers with me." I pulled out my beaded Squirmito, and figured I might get lucky. I pulled it out and the little sunfish from Lockhart had chewed the back off! I tied it on anyway and had several hits. It then dawned on me that I had several keiryu rigs tied up with Gamakatsu Zero Yamame #3 hooks, and I could rig my Squirmito like Chris on one of those hooks! So I did. I pinched off the front piece of Squirmito and hooked it in the middle. It cast horribly with the Daiwa rod. Dinsmores #10 shot to the rescue! I put one shot about 8 inches above the piece of Squirmito that I had pinched off of the beaded fly and hooked through the Zero Yamame hook. On my second cast, I caught my first micro! I then positioned myself to cast to an underwater ledge where I had seen lots of sunfish. I thought I would keep track this time. It was better than every other cast, but not every cast. The action stopped after 143 sunfish and 3 more micros. I then went back to the seam to see if the new setup would entice one of the Guadalupe Bass. I'm not sure what happened, but on the third cast to that spot, I lost the only Squirmito I had. My phone started buzzing with my flight issues, and I was getting overheated! Wading wet in Texas is like wading in bath water!
So my lessons learned on this trip are: You can go too minimal when you don't know what you are getting yourself into. Even though I had a blast, you can have the wrong rod for the situation. I think I would have had more fun with the Shimotsuke Kiyotaki 24. I am seeing a Suntech Keiryu Special 27 or possibly a Nissin Air Stage in my future. So if you are traveling, I would encourage you to plan out some fishing adventures. I had a man and his wife visit with me at one of the pools as she was taking pictures of birds, and he got real excited about my setup as I showed him how all my stuff fit in the ZimmerBuilt Tenkara Sling Lite.
Thanks John for informing me about your great State Parks. I was able to catch close to 200 of what I consider the most beautiful freshwater fish, the pumpkinseed sunfish.
“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten” – Benjamin Franklin
"Study to be quiet." - Izaak Walton 1653
"Be sure in casting, that your fly fall first into the water, for if the line fall first, it scares or frightens the fish..." Col. Robert Venables 1662
As age slows my pace, I will become more like the heron.
The hooks are sharp.
The coffee's hot.
The fish are slippery when wet.
Beware of the Dogma