A few weeks ago, my regional manager was able to fill in for me for a half day while three of my guys from the shop were already planning on kayak fishing the San Gabriel River. Why not join them? I had never had the opportunity to fish the San Gabriel river and being manager I never get a chance to fish with my guys so I seized the opportunity (especially since my Diablo and gear were already loaded in my truck)! The San Gabriel River is located in central Texas just north of Austin. The river was so beautiful and the fishing luck was so great on my first trip I was quick to schedule a float trip on my next day off the following week!
I quickly noted the beauty of this river and the advantages it offers for kayak fishing. This river is gorgeous with crystal clear water and somewhat remote for being so close to Austin. These are the sort of spots that I live for finding and fishing. The water is so clear in most places on this river that there were a couple of 10ft deep holes where you could see straight to the bottom. In fact, there was one hole in particular where we could see two 6+ pound large mouths, an 8+ pound catfish and countless other fish such as gar, bass and catfish. We saw at least 2 different species of carp and buffalo, all sorts of sunfish and Rio Grande Cichlids, in addition to all the large mouth and Guadalupe bass. To my surprise, this river had all types of fresh water fish and we literally could see them all! The beautiful part of fishing this clear water was that I was able to see the fish bite my fly. It was so neat to be throwing sinking streamers pretty much all day and watching the bass swim up, nail the fly and after watching them eat, set the hook! On the flip side, top waters were not working very well because of how clear it was.
The fishing was good and the water was beautiful but the 7.5 mile and 13 hour “float” that we did was not easy by any means. We dragged/portaged the kayaks for at least a 1/3 of the time (even though it felt like much more) through the shallow spots and most of the small rapids. Once we finally made it through shallow waters and came upon a pool we knew would produce results, we’d begin our fishing. Some of these small isolated pools were so remote in locations where access is difficult that I wondered when the last time someone had fished them.
Something else I noticed of the San Gabriel was how devoid of trash it was. I am used to fly fishing the San Marcos, Guadalupe, and Colorado Rivers also in this region where I often see more trash than I wish to see. The San Marcos and Guadalupe are very popular tubing rivers this time of year and by the end of the summer season, there is trash everywhere. This is a whole other topic of discussion but I hate seeing trash in our rivers and something I always tend to take notice of and do my part to clean up. The San Gabriel, unlike the Guadalupe or San Marcos, was absolutely pristine. I think a big part of this is due to how difficult it is to access. Lucky for us kayak anglers, that’s not a problem!
Before I started kayak fishing a few years ago I would have never dreamed of some of the places that I have seen and been able to get to with my Diablo Adios. They are pieces of plastic (highly engineered pieces of plastic but plastic nonetheless) that are meant to take a fair amount of abuse that you can float, paddle, or drag if need be to your spots.I try to explain the versatility of kayak fishing to many different types of people and this river is a prime example. I do not know of any other craft, other than a kayak that we would have been able to do what we did yesterday. Seven and a half miles of predominantly shallow river in 13 hours with lots of fish caught along the way.
It’s what I live for, after all I am a kayak fly fishing junkie and I always say there are a lot worse things to be addicted to.
-Ryan @ ACK