I thought I would talk a little about this upcoming season.
There are going to be lots of anglers on the water this season. The reputation of the Guadalupe as a Trophy Trout Fishery has grown and grown over the years and attracts more anglers every year. Once these fish hit the river, they are pretty disoriented from their 20 hour trip. They are also stressed and we recommend angler allow 24 hours to acclimate before attempting to catch them to lessen the chances of delayed mortality. The whole point to this catch and release fishing is to release fish that are healthy and capable of surviving their encounters with you to thrill other anglers. There are many fine points to this which I will briefly summarize: fish barbless, apply as much pressure as you dare while fighting these fish to land the fish quickly to limit lactic acid build up. Use a net with a rubber bag, it will allow you to land the fish more easily with less damage to it’s slime coat and scales. Leave the fish in the net and in the water when you remove the hook. Once the hook is removed try taking your picture of the fish in the net for a change before you “dip the lip” and let it swim away. If you must have a “Hero Shot”, always wet your hands first, turn on the camera, have the person with the camera up and ready to take the picture, grasp the fish around the tail with one hand and with the other support lift the fish underneath it’s throat. A fish should never be out of the water for more than 10 seconds and I try to limit the fish I catch to no more than 5 seconds out of the water. Get the shot and quickly return the fish to the water. The more you do this the easier it gets. If the fish struggles, lower the fish back to the water and inside the net, let it calm down, and then repeat the process. Never drag the fish up on dry land, never touch the fish with dry hands, never put your fingers in it’s gills. Never squeeze them to try and control them, they will only struggle more, and you will cause more internal damage that may result in the death of the fish. Catch and Release only works if the fish are released alive and healthy. If the fish swallows the hook, or it is stuck in it’s throat where all the gill structures come together: do not remove the hook, just cut the mono as short as possible, leave the fly inside, and release the fish. It will rust out in a short time.
We are likely to see low flows for awhile with little significant rain in the forecast. We have flows of 55 cfs right now. The Guadalupe is generally a drop, pool, and tailout kind of fishery with runs in-between. When we start our stockings, we will spread out these Trout as much as possible with our volunteers bucketing Trout to various sites, and even locations between actual access sites, but at first these fish will be stacked up in certain holes and stretches of water for awhile. They will spread out over time and fill in all those in-between places that I love to fish, but right at the first, anglers are likely to want to fish the same water in the beginning because that’s where the fish are. Normally we like to see anglers spread out and give each other plenty of room to fish their own piece of water. Think of the normal rule,… That if you can cast to an angler next to you,.. You’re too close.
To begin with this season there will be hot spots and a bunch of fishless water in between. At this time anglers will have to tolerate fishing a little closer than normal. When you come into an area and there are already anglers fishing the spots you want to fish, first thing you want to do is stop and observe those already fishing there. Strike up a casual conversation and ask where you can fit in. Ask if they are fishing up or downstream? or if they are just standing in the same place? Get their permission to fish around them. If they are moving one way or another get behind them and fish the water they are moving away from. If they were there first then they get to make the call. Sometimes the answer is No and you will have to live with that answer to be a good sportsman. When you are the guy already fishing there and a new person comes into the water be accommodating and remember to treat them as you would want to be treated, because sooner or later you will be that next guy coming into an area with a bunch of anglers already fishing there. How close is too close? Well that varies from person to person and how you are fishing the water. I would say give at the very least 20′ unless you are good friends and or invited to fish closer. Also don’t be a “Hole Hog”, even if you were there first. Have you been fishing there 30 minutes or an hour and a bunch of guys are trying to fish the same water, then be a good sportsman, and move on a little and allow those new fishermen the same chance at the best water. It’s just good manners. Plus by exploring those other spots on the river, you might just find another great little out-of-the-way spots nobody is fishing or even knows about. This is how I have learned to be successful over my many years fishing the Guadalupe. Plus every year the river changes some. Some years big pushes of water make for big changes, creating new holes and runs and filling other old reliable spots. Other years it may be just a subtle change that could make all the difference. Learn the river and all of it’s many different kinds of water, how to fish them, and you will become a better and more successful fisherman.
When moving past another angler fishing a spot, give him as much room as possible, move slowly and deliberately behind them creating as little noise and commotion in the water as possible. Use the bank when possible or necessary. When you are passing behind him or her tell them when you are in their backcast. Let’s talk about the use of the bank on navigable rivers in the State of Texas (And yes the Guadalupe is considered a navigable river in the State of Texas) To paraphrase the law you have the use of the bank to half-way to the high water mark. That is quite a bit of room actually, but most land owners will have a fit if you are actually that far from the water. There is an old adage,…” One foot wet, No regret”. Certainly don’t ever walk 20′ from the edge of the water, unless you are going from your vehicle to the water or back at one of our access sites. Do not take short cuts across land to get from one place to another. If confronted by a landowner challenging your path, it’s not worth arguing over. Ask for their pardon, return to the water, and exit the area as soon as possible.
What about those floating the river? Now most of these will be guides in their rafts, some will be novices in rafts or kayaks. In these low flows they will be limited to where they can even float by. Sometimes they have no choice but to float right through the run/drop you are fishing. Allow them to do this. Most guides will go out of their way to avoid drifting over the spots you are fishing. And the fish won’t go far before they return and will start eating again. Remember these fish must eat to survive and the are genetically wired to get back to the business of eating and surviving.
Let’s also talk about the issue of Harassment. This is what the Texas Law defines as Harassment…..
***** Texas Parks and Wildlife Code 62.0125*****
This statue, also known as the Sportsman’s Rights Act, specifically states…. “Under this section, a person may not intentionally interfere with another person lawfully engaged in the process of hunting or catching wildlife, or intentionally harass, drive, or disturb any wildlife for the purpose of disturbing lawful hunting or fishing. Violation is a class B Misdemeanor.”
Now what if you are 100% sure someone is breaking the fish or game laws, what do you do so as not to violate this law? First you must know exactly what the laws are and what laws apply to the area of the river (in this case) you are fishing. (There are three different regulations/Laws for the Trout on the Guadalupe River depending on your location.) This is what I advise in those cases. If you personally know and are friends with the individual, or they are a member of GRTU, you may actually ask if they are aware of the regulations. If they are not sure and say so, then you may tell them what the regulations are in that area of the river. If they respond they know the laws/regulations or in the least amount aggressive about the question, I advise you to end the conversation. If they are wearing a GRTU Lease Button, try and get the number, and report it to Dan Cone the GRTU V P of Fisheries (if not him then Me and I will pass the info on to Dan). If you do not know the individual and they are not a member of GRTU you must exercise more caution to avoid the charge of harassment. If you feel strongly about the violation call the game wardens, give them the information, location on the river, description of the individual, and let the professionals handle it.
When any doubt exists, walk away, and try not to let it spoil your day. Fishing should be all about relaxation and enjoying the outdoors.
Here are some other items you should remember.
What about needing to relieve yourself? First of all think ahead. Think about going to one of the many available restrooms along the river before entering the water or holding it till you can get there. There are available restrooms at: Rio, Lazy L&L, Micheal’s (old Rocky Beach), River Road Camp. There are other commercial outfitters that you may ask if they are open. There will come a time when you are too far from the parking lot and bathrooms and you must relieve yourself where you are on the river. Take in consideration all those landowners and other river users. Pretend they are the most innocent and easily offended soul on the planet. Find a place that will cover your moment from the sight of others. I usually look for a big Cypress tree or some other dense underbrush to hide from view.
Don’t Litter. If you brought it in pack it out, no exceptions. If you have some time pick up litter, please do so. I usually carry a mesh bag in the back of my fly vest (available at all outfitters) and occasionally pick up trash on the way to the parking lot, especially any glass, styrofoam, or cigarette lighters. It feels good leaving a place looking better than when you arrived.
Be a good steward of the river. We are seen by a lot of non-GRTU members while on the river and we want to be seen as setting a good example 100% of the time. If other people ask you questions, act in a friendly, and in a courteous manner. Answering them to the best of your ability. Be friendly towards everyone you meet regardless of their behavior. Respect the resource that is the Guadalupe River and it’s Fishery.
Question for you Jimbo….in my 15 years on the Guad, only twice have I seen anglers using worms for bait. One was last night near the Lazy L&L. I told the offender about the regulations and he said he was not fishing for trout and would put any fish back anyhow. Also, why would L&L be selling worms if they were prohibited along their camp? What is the proper response to this? Can a person actually be cited for using worms on the restricted section? Thanks, Dan G.
The answer is “The Loop Hole” in the Trout regulations…
The direct answer is anyone can use bait or artificially scented baits (like powerbait or artificially scented products, including any scented soft plastic imitation) and say they are targeting other species like Bass, Perch, Stripers or Catfish, regardless of whether they are actually targeting Trout or not. The regulation says that “no Trout maybe retained using bait or artificially scented products”. So if they catch a Trout on bait or artificially scented products, and release it: live or dead, they are within the fishing regulations for the Guadalupe River. And that is the loophole in the regulations. If TPWD were to say no bait or scented products maybe used to catch Trout (thus hooking and fighting a Trout would be illegal even if it was not retained), that would make it illegal to use bait or scented products anywhere in the Guadalupe River where Trout could be present. Although a no “bait or scented products” was considered, many local residents, most riverside property owners, said that would mean their small children, who are not skilled in casting and using artificial lures and flys, could not use bobber and bait to fish for other species right out their own backyard. This was said often enough at these public opinion meetings that the no “bait or scented products” was scratched as a possibility in the regulations. Of course if they are using bait and actually keeping any Trout in the 2 Special Regulations Zones (no Trout can be retained using bait or artificially scented products, all Trout retained must be caught using artificial lures or flys, 1st: From 800 yards below the dam to the eastern most bridge on 306, all Trout from >12″ and <18″ must be released, Bag 5 Trout, only 1 fish in the bag 18″ or longer the rest 12″ or less, 2nd: from the eastern most bridge on 306 to the second crossing on River Road, only 1 Trout maybe retained and it’s minimum length must be 18″) then they are in violation of the Fishing Regulations for Trout and can be cited by Texas Game Wardens. Of course they must be caught in the act by a Game Warden to be cited. So if you see this going on, you can call a game warden and let them know where it is happening and describe the individuals doing this. Also know that any time you approach an individual who is violating the fish and game laws, even though they are violating the law, they can say you are interfering with their rights to fish or hunt and can sue you. This is why it’s best to call and game warden and let them handle it. (Also note: Outside these Special Regulation Zones: any form of legal fishing, including using bait and artificially scented products is allowed, bag limit 5 Trout, any size)
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