Fly Fishing on the Guadalupe River in Texas
I’m a big fan and huge proponent of do it yourself fly fishing trips. There’s nothing more rewarding to me than loading up your gear and seeing new terrain with a fly rod in hand. It's gratifying, humbling and down right fun. This time I found myself on a solo DIY fishing trip in Texas. I had my eye on the Guadalupe River. It caught my eye for its diversity. In the Canyon Lake area there is fishing access above and below Canyon Lake. North of the lake fisherman have access to chasing warm water species like bass and panfish. South of the lake, below the dam, fisherman have access to cooler water and my personal favorite, trout. Aside from its diversity, the tailwater of the Guadalupe is the only river in Texas where there’s a shot at a wild born Texas trout. My affinity for all things trout led me south of Canyon Lake on this trip.
I parked my Jeep at the Huaco Springs Campground Just outside of San Antonio, TX. They offer everything from tent camping, RV sites and small rustic cabins. On my DIY trips I try my hardest to penny pinch wherever I can because, let’s be honest, flies aren’t cheap! I opted into the primitive sites and set up my tent, cooler full of snacks and cold libations, and set up my fly tying vise for a weekend full of -fingers crossed- Texas sized fly fishing. Their primitive style tent sites run directly along the Guadalupe River from Huaco falls to Slumber falls. It’s plenty of water to spend a few days picking apart but keep in mind this stretch is only open from November until May. This is the opposite of many fisheries in the US. I packed along my favorite nine foot five weight on recommendation from a local guide service. Most of the trout are in the ten to twelve inch size class but the Guadalupe has produced trout in the twenty plus inch range. The 9’ 5 weight with a weight forward floating line is a perfect match for fish in that size class. I had packed some 3x fluorocarbon and monofilament leaders and grabbed some spools of fluorocarbon tippet in 4x and 5x. I planned for primarily nymph rig fishing with the occasional dry dropper if I found myself on any mid day hatches. With camp set up, I settled in for the evening and tied some san juan worms, pheasant tail nymphs, wooly buggers and micro eggs for the following day.
The next morning I set out chasing a true Texas born trout. I waded into some surprisingly cold gin clear water that resembled a Southern Appalachian creek. I worked through its runs and riffles catching healthy and energetic Texas rainbows. I had a lot of luck on black wooly buggers, rainbow warriors and orange micro eggs. It was truly an exceptional day of fishing, I had over a dozen to the net picking through the beautiful Guadalupe River. If I were to go back, I would pack a ten foot three weight rod for that particular stretch. This rod is synonymous with a style of fly fishing called Euro nymphing. This is a straight line style of fishing that uses heavier weighted nymphs, typically tungsten jig head flies, and a style of indicator known as a sighter. Euro nymphing allows the angler to get their flies down quickly in fast currents and when done correctly adjust the depth of the flies with a subtle change in arm position. It’s incredibly effective and a great way to get fish to the net as a beginner or expert alike. It would be an ideal candidate in this stretch of the Guadalupe. I continued fishing my way through the property and concluded the day with nothing but great memories and gratitude for Texas Fish and Wildlife’s efforts for maintaining a healthy fishery with a wild trout population.
The next day I decided to head north and hit the start of the tail water below the Canyon Lake dam. This is a popular stretch for wading and an access point for river boats. Be sure to check the flows before deciding on a day of wade fishing. Higher flows can make it difficult and sometimes dangerous to attempt to wade. The River Trail within Guadalupe River Park is the stretch closest to the dam. This is where to find the most consistent cold water. As good trout fishermen we know where there's cold water there’s a chance at big trout! I followed the river trail which offers great access to its chilly waters and found myself daydreaming of a Texas trophy rainbow. The river trail is where trout stocking is the heaviest. Many anglers on this stretch use conventional rods and tackle. This is advantageous for anglers using fly fishing tackle to imitate the natural bugs living in the fishery. I turned over some rocks from the river bed and noticed some smaller mayfly nymphs. I tied on a san juan worm and dropped to a size sixteen bead head pheasant tail under a Dorsey style indicator. The trout here aren’t necessarily spooky or leader shy but I personally love the sensitivity and delicate nature of the fur style indicators.
The fishing was fruitful and my largest was a sixteen inch Texas bow. Any trout is a trophy in my book and for a do it yourself trip I was pleasantly surprised with the success I had on the Guadalupe River.
Texas offers an incredibly diverse amount of fishing opportunities ranging from bass, panfish, trout and if you travel closer to the coast some world renowned saltwater species. It’s the kind of place that leaves me with a smile and thinking “I’ll never get to see it all.” If you get the chance to plan a trip, do your research, stop in the local fly shops and see a new place with a fly rod in your hand. I promise you won’t regret it.