Chasing Rainbows in Central Texas
Photography by Travis Perkins
Interested in trying a new sport this year? Read on for a local outdoor enthusiast’s tips, tricks and resources for fly fishing in Central Texas.
Unknown to many, the fly fishing scene in Central Texas is alive, thriving and growing quickly. It’s a more active form of fishing that involves a mastery of skill, finesse and an unmatched appreciation for fish and the ecology in which they flourish. So, there’s no wonder that its popularity is growing in a fit, sustainability-minded city like Austin.
Raised in the pine forests of East Texas, I had always equated fishing to boring mornings tossing bobbers and worms into murky ponds. It wasn’t until experiencing the limestone forged waterways of Central Texas that I realized the potential addiction of catching a fish on a small fly in crystal clear water.
For many it’s the mastery that’s most appealing. For others, it's the sheer joy of hooking a fish or the fight that is sure to ensue as you reel the big one in. For the diehards, it’s traveling to remote fishing destinations all over the world or the simple ability to wake up at 4 a.m., fish during sunrise, and make it to the office on time.
Furthermore, on the water, all are equal. A novice can outfish the pro, given the right fly choice and a lucky day. Due to the difficulty, it’s rare to meet self-taught anglers. The apprenticeship aspect of fly fishing keeps the sport community focused and connected through spending time with each other in the great outdoors. Also, while fishing has gained the stereotype of being male-centric, the sport has seen a growing trend of female anglers due to campaigns such as Orvis’ 50/50 On the Water as well as gear and apparel brands with a focus on getting women out on the water like local fly-fishing company, Maven Fly.
For many, there’s no higher calling that pulling in a vibrant rainbow trout waist-deep in the cold current. Lucky for us, we have prime access to the southernmost stocking of rainbow trout in North America. Every winter (typically early-December to January), private and public stockings of the Guadalupe River bring an early Christmas present to the Central Texas fly-fishing scene.
These rainbow trout are grown via various hatcheries and shipped into lakes, ponds and rivers all over the state. This year, the Guadalupe River will be publicly stocked with 18,916 trout, according to Texas State Parks and Wildlife resources.
The trout, who enjoy cold clear waterways, will remain active throughout the winter and into early spring. However, anglers are likely to have the best luck fishing in December and January, during or right after stocking times. Harvest and license regulations can vary among years and stocking locations, so make sure to check out the resources above.
Fly fishing in Central Texas is seasonal due to the natural rhythms of different fish species. The winter months provide cold and fast-flowing water conditions favorable to rainbow trout and striped bass. However, avid anglers know how to wrangle a largemouth bass or sunfish on the fly during the summer months.
If you’re looking to tie in and catch a bit of the action, be sure to check out these resources:
Maps, stocking locations, hatcheries, access points and license regulations
Texas Parks and Wildlife (tpwd.texas.gov)