Texas does not come to mind when I think of fly fishing. Not at all. But for reasons still unbeknownst to me, Texans love the Guadalupe River and will stand by its fly fishing credibility.
Located halfway between Austin and San Antonio, the Guadalupe boasts the title of the southernmost Texas trout fishery in the United States. The terrain includes a limestone canyon section and low banks covered in bald cypress trees. The “Guad”, as locals call it, originates in the Texas Hill Country and flows down to the Gulf of Mexico. A portion of the river roughly twelve miles east of New Braunfels was dammed in 1964, creating what locals like to call a tail water trout fishery.
As a fair forewarning - don’t travel to the Guadalupe looking for native fish activity. However the river is stocked with trout during the winter season (Dec. – Feb.). Fishing can be shoulder-to-shoulder during this auspicious event, so come prepared to stake out your space. Daytime temperatures can range from the low 40’s to high 70’s; cloudy / cooler days make for much happier fish and, often, less traffic on the banks. Stocked fish range from 10”-18”, with the rare trout reaching over 20”.
The Guadalupe fishes as a riffle-run-pool flow, and though the riffles are few and far between , the fish tend to gather at the riffle / pool confluences. The limestone base of the river creates ridges along the bottom of the river that provide a natural holding pool for the trout. These ridges help channel food to the trout – just watch your step while wading!
Although some anglers will swear that the Guadalupe fishes well with dry flies, most will agree that it is best fished wet. It’s a good idea to keep a selection of nymphs and steamers handy as well.
Midges provide the main food for the Guadalupe trout, though reports of mayflies and caddis occur as well. Midges are quite hardy and can survive the warm, sticky Texas weather with aplomb. A well-stocked Guadalupe fly box will include a few Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ears, the Bead Head Prince Nymph, a few Foam Winger Emergers, and a good selection of San Jan Worms. Size 12 and 14 are the most prevalent, though as with any river, the weather greatly affects the hatches, so read the surroundings and come prepared. Locals recommend keeping a few Wooly Buggers handy as well, but keep it to the early part of the season. The fish see a lot of these flies come and go and, well, even stock trout can figure that one out.
Honestly, don’t go to the Guadalupe looking for fly fishing to match the great Western rivers… or any Western river for that matter.
But if you happen to be in Texas during the stock season there are “bunker babies” to be had. The rest of the year is reasonable fishing for sunfish and little bass and the river is far less trafficked. It’s surprising to find fly fishing of any kind in the state of Texas (excepting the coast) and anglers somehow always learn to make the best of it.
More about Jess and her photography can be found on her personal website