Thursday, June 25, 2015

Llano river bass during flood conditions

Call me green.  Or just call me overly careful.  But I really don't like it when it's storming up river while you're sitting on a kayak fishing the same river.

We started out the day late because we knew we'd be staying late and 10-11 hours on the water is hard to defend from a safe sun-to-skin ratio.  But by 11am when we left homesite in Liberty Hill, it was starting to rain.  By the time we got to Bertram it was *pouring*.  Me being the weather nut I am, was not worried since I had seen that Mason was pretty much out of range for the majority of the rain.  However, I was still slightly nervous since I really have a phobia of getting caught on a river when a flash flood comes through.

The spot we go to is where the James River flows into the Llano River.  This spot has an island that has formed where the river splits.  It is a great natural place for folks to enjoy the Texas back country scene. Personally, there isn't a much better spot to go to get away from it all.  Yeah, it's a little busy on the weekends compared to during the week, but we like the people we meet - real country Texans.

We got to the water around 1PM.  The water was still murky though not as bad as 3 weeks ago.  It was lower as well. But it was still up enough to where the mud flats were still under water.  This is where the muddy water comes from.  However, this means there is plenty of places for small fry to go to grow.  A VERY good thing in my opinion.

On this trip we took some DIY "Red Neck" pole anchors.  These are poles that you push through a scupper hole into the bottom of the river to hold you while you fish so you don't move around too much.  Often easier to maneuver than a regular anchor, they allowed to stay in one spot to fish certain areas.

The top of the pole anchor.
And the rain that threatened to ruin our day.
The pole anchors could be designed better. These have too much bend in them. I used plastic coated garden stakes inside the PVC so they would be more rigid but it still wasn't to my satisfaction.  They still worked, but only in water that was 3ft - 4ft or so.  Anything deeper and the pole bent too much to be useful.  Maybe next time I will find another material that is stronger. Maybe putting wooden dowels inside would be an option, however then they would have to be sealed.  These here are not sealed and drain out when pulled out of the water. They basically 3/4in PVC pipe with a coupling at one end that I screwed a brass fitting on to.  This is so the thing that hits the bottom of the river is brass, not plastic.  Therefore increasing their useful life.  The top is simply a PVC "T" glued on and to be used as a handle.  All in all, I think they worked fairly well and we'll be using them whenever we are fishing in the wind or in current.  If you look at the picture at the top of the page you can see both pole anchors strapped to my kayak and see the brass "tips".

The day started a little boring.  Fished around the landing area for a bit but there had probably been too much noise from other kayakers, etc and so we headed for other areas.  There was another couple kayak fishing as well who were obviously what I call "one-timers".  They had rented kayaks and were trying to fish with very little success.

We went on up the river to the area you see in the picture above where there were grass beds in fairly deep water.  These appears to be normally in shallower water but due to the higher water, the water was nearly 3ft deep.  Perfect for hiding bass.  On top of this, this grass bed was near a very deep channel, and by very deep, I mean, 6ft deep.  Our pole anchors wouldn't work in the channel.  I realized that the big bass were likely holding in the deep channel and then making runs up into the weed beds for a little snack every now and then.

I was the first to try the weed beds.  But I had parked IN the channel - that's how I figured out the channel was there.  This likely meant I had likely scared the fish when I tried to put my pole anchor down.  I fished the nearby weed beds without any strikes.  Finally, I moved to other weed beds that were farther from the deep water where I was still fish-less.

My wife making me jealous.
Sarah took this opportunity to move near to the spot I had been, only she came in a little further away.  By this time 20 minutes had elapsed - just enough time for the fish to settle down again.  She started casting up into the weed beds with "gold" plated buzz bait and immediately got a hit from a very large bass.  She was not ready for it and thought she'd lost it in the weeds.  I tried to get my camera on her but it was in my bag and so I only got a couple after pictures of a very nice fish before it did number on Sarah and she dropped it.

We tried fishing around the weeds for a while after that, but we had stirred things up too much not to mention it was the middle of the day and the fish were still deep.

We moved on from there and wandered around for several hours without much going on.  Came back to the weed bed before heading up stream and I got a couple weak strikes and swirls but nothing solid enough to bring in.  So we headed upstream to see how far we could go since we hadn't done that at this particular spot yet.

Found some very beautiful scenery above where the lake formed.  Was somewhat of a second pool there below some very nice cliffs.  The water was moving pretty good though and it was hard to sit still long enough to get any good casts before we'd have to paddle again.  So we kept going up stream to the rapids.  Was a bit anti-climatic as the water was too harsh to fish much.  I managed to catch a white bass on the edge of the cliff as we were drifting back.

About this point we heard something no one wants to hear when they are on the Llano river - Thunder!  Me being already a bit spooked about flash floods, I said "Let's head back right now" and we took off.  We made good time and in 15 minutes we were back at the revered weed bed mentioned above. About this time it started clearing off and the storm with the thunder was disappearing to the northwest as it dissipated.

I decided to sneak up on the weed bed again and throw a few casts with my Booyah buzzbait.  This time it worked and I got a good hit and brought in a legal bass.  The thing that startled me about this fish was how beat up it was. Sarah said her's had had a gash on it's head too so it got me thinking maybe the fish were having trouble with the flooded water.  I wonder if they have as much trouble seeing as we do in that water and due to the nature of how they hunt, they would have to barge "head-on" through the sea of mud after prey not knowing what they were about to run into.  Hmmmm....  This would explain why they were so eager for buzz baits when by all rights the season had passed.  They could *hear* the buzzbait and knew they weren't going to run into anything!  Interesting theory... but it seemed to work as I got another fish not far from the first one and it was a much nicer fish.  Still not as legendary as Sarah's but it made me feel better.  Sarah was running video and didn't get any good still pictures.  But hopefully I'll get a nice video put together later showing the highlights.

Another nice day on the river and some good stories to tell.  One thing that we are focusing the budget on is getting a GoPro or something similar that we can use on the kayak. Should hopefully give our readers something interesting to watch as we start building video's each time we go fishing instead of just snapshots.  Stay tuned on this one!

Hope y'all have as much fun as we do on the water this summer!

Tight lines,

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