Winter Waters to Fly Fish in TX - Part 3 Guadalupe River below Canyon Lake
The “Guad” below Canyon Lake dam is widely considered one of Texas’ premier winter fly fisheries due to its location between Austin and San Antonio, its easy accessibility, and also its long-time support from Guadalupe River Trout Unlimited, Texas Parks and Wildlife. Oh yeah, and a HUGE shout out goes to Texas’ OG beer bottler, Lone Star Brewing Company!
Why them? Well, Lone Star's suds and stocker salmonids have been doing the Two-Step in the Guadaloop since the ‘70’s when the fabled brewery tossed the first trough of rainbow trout into the drink. In doing so, they unassumingly created one to the nation's top 100 year-round trout fisheries right in the heart of the Texas Hill Country.
But times when got tough Lone Star dropped their stocking gig and the local chapter of Trout Unlimited and TPW picked up where the beer boys left off. Collectively, the latter two entities are now plopping upwards of 30,000 trout annually in various locations along the Guad, and we LOVE that!
Highly regulated, the Guad’s trout are now reproducing and thriving, giving Texans the ability to catch wild rainbows and browns twelve months out of the year. Due to several privately leased sections, average Joe’s like us must still maneuver through the fees and can float several miles of the Guad private water in search of wild Texas trout. But the minute you're on dry land, be aware that you're more than likely on private property, and likely trespassing. Please inform yourself on public fishing areas before bank-fishing on the Guadalupe.
The rig of choice is a bit picky, but is almost essential for success. Set up a 8.5 to 9-foot, 5 to 6-wt. rod with floating line with an indicator about 2 to 3 feet up from end -> approx 12 inches of 20-lb test -> 2 no. 6 split shots about 1 inch apart (depending on cfs flow) above the leader knot -> 7.5 feet of 3 to 5X leader –> attractor fly –> 12 – 18 inches of 5 to 6X tippet -> dropper fly.
[Pro Tip] The 12 inches of 20-lb test above the leader is simply a mechanism to keep the weights above the leader. The knot tied between the upper 20-lb. test line and the leader will act as a “stop,” if you will, and keep the weight well above the flies.
Reliable attractor patterns include eggs in peach, yellow, white or red, and San Juan worms in red, orange or tan. Trusted droppers include natural and black pheasant tails, Prince nymphs, Hare’s Ear nymphs, and Copper Johns in red or copper, all in sizes between 16-20.
Repetitive casting and pick-ups through all types of water will elicit trout takes if the flies are in the zone. Flies need to be close to or hitting and dragging the bottom on occasional casts, getting at lease some of your drifts to pass right by the deep-dwelling trouts' faces, so adjust split shots accordingly.
Popular kayak and float put-ins include: Just below the Canyon Lake Dam parking lot, Rio Raft Company, Lazy L & L Resort, and at Rocky Beach. There may be others along River Rd. but please be proactive and ask the locals for guidance.
The following map and text is referenced verbatim from the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.
The map [above] shows the trout fishing area of the Guadalupe River between the Canyon Lake dam and the City of New Braunfels. Trout will be stocked at Guadalupe Park, Whitewater Camp, 4th Crossing, 3rd Crossing, and Camp Huaco Springs.
Many camps and resorts in this area offer river access to paying guests. Free public fishing access is provided at the following locations:
Year-round: Guadalupe Park, operated by the US Army Corps of Engineers
December 7, 2018 – March 7, 2019, except weekend of February 22-24: Free access available for trout anglers at Camp Huaco Springs.
Anglers at leased areas 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. These leases were made possible with grant funding provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program.
Please note: Two sections of this river are subject to special harvest regulations on rainbow and brown trout. In these sections, all trout harvested must be caught on artificial lures, and the following bag and size limits are in effect:
Beginning 800 yards downstream from the Canyon Dam release gate and extending to the easternmost bridge on FM Road 306, there is a 12-to-18-inch slot limit. Trout 12 inches and under or 18 inches and longer may be retained. Daily bag limit is five trout, and only one can be 18 inches or longer.
From the easternmost bridge on FM 306 downstream to the second bridge crossing on River Road, there is an 18-inch minimum size limit, and a one trout daily bag.
For recommended guide services, explore the following (listed in alphabetical order):
Action Anglers Guide Service - "The only stream side fly shop and guide service in Texas"
All Water Guides - An Orvis-Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide Service in Central Texas
Castell Guide Services - Hill Country area Guide Service
Expedition Outfitters - Guided Fly Fishing Raft Trips in Texas
Living Waters Fly Fishing - Fly Shop and Guide Service located in Round Rock, Texas
River Hills Outfitters - Central Texas Fly Fishing Guides