Saturday, November 28, 2015

San Gabriel River Fall Fishing

It isn't often you have a good day fishing and get rained out.  But it happened to us recently.  In fact, not only were we rained out but I was slam dunked by my own wife.  Yep, she not only beat my recent record day of two best fish, she did it in spite of me!

Saturday morning came as one of those mornings where the weather is cold, cloudy and really quite dreary.  We went to bed the night before saying we'd "get up early and head out at first light".  Well, the work week got the best of me and during the night I killed my alarm. I was exhausted and as usual, knew I needed to sleep more than I needed to fish...  or else.

After sleeping an extra couple of hours, I woke up around 7:30am, about an hour after sunrise. Since I'm the one who wakes up easy, I woke my wife up and then we got busy getting things ready to go.  By 8:30am we were in the truck on the way to the fishin' hole.

Now, the decision of where to fish is a complicated one for me. I'm a river fisherman. I rarely go to lakes.  So there's a lot of calculations that go into choosing a river. First and foremost for this time of year is the weather. There's one thing I will not do is sit on a river fishing while it rains. In Texas that's pure stupidity.

So one of the things I had done that morning was look at the weather radar. I had hoped to make another run out to Inks Lake to practice lake fishing but the radar showed rain to the west that promised to take over the entire area from the west by afternoon.  So that meant we had to head east.  And that meant pretty much only one place to go where we didn't have to drive hours to get there: The San Gabriel River.

When we got to the river, one of the first things I noticed was the water looked very clear.  Now this is fairly unusual for this stretch of river. It often has a clarity of a couple feet, but this time it looked like the clarity was at least several feet which I had never seen on this river to this point.

The second thing I noticed was there was someone who had just gotten into the river in their yak, and that yak was also a Jackson Kayak.  I didn't even pay attention to who was *in* the kayak as that wasn't important - it was a Jackson Coosa and that good enough for me!

Well, as we started to unload, the guy come floating over and says "I believe I know you from YouTube!" and then I recognized him.  It was Robert Henry from Bat Country Fishing Rods.  The funny part of this was I had just told him through YouTube comments that I wanted to get together and go fishing some time soon and here we both ended up on the same river at the same time.

So while we unloaded and got in the water, Robert took off up river which was the only way to go.  This particular spot is one where there are several large pools that are daisy-chained together connected by small to medium-large rapids in between. The idea is you fish up the the rapids, catch what you can and then pull your kayak on up the rapids to the next pool.

We finally had our gear together, got in, and started fishing.  The fish were fairly active and I caught an almost 16in largemouth within 15 minutes.  That was nice an all, but I was looking for bigger fish - like the 5 pounder I had caught last winter on this very area. But alas, the big bass were apparently not looking for me.  They were looking for my wife.

Yes, it was after we pulled our kayaks up to the second pool,  We hadn't been up there 20 minutes.  I fished down one side of the bank where the water was deep and then decided the other bank looked better.  So I crossed over to the other side.  STUPID.  My lovely wife was following me by about 10 minutes. She did the same thing, except she went another 100ft up the first bank.  

I should have known. I've caught fish on that same brush pile before, but I let the old fishing adage get the best of me.  "The water always looks better on the other side."  Yep, she went a little further and got a hit by a huge bass.  We measured it at nearly 21 inches and I completely forgot to weigh it.  It felt pretty heavy and I estimated it at around 4+ pounds.  It definitely looked the part.

Yep. I had my pride deflated pretty well by that, but I was very happy for her and very proud of her!

So, we kept fishing. We made it up to the large falls or rather, large rapids.  These create an eddy where the fish are generally quite prolific because the water is heavily oxygenated. However, this day the only fish we saw was caught by a Hispanic gentleman who apparently knew the spot well.  He threw his hard swimbait in and pulled a large bass out in 2 casts.  Bah.

After this we decided to head up above the falls. This was a challenge because we had to drag our kayaks up the rapids or up a very steep sand/rock bar.  This rock bar was hard core too.  Thankfully, with Robert's help we were able to stay dry and help each other carry the kayaks over the rocks.

Once again, Sarah had us guys in conniptions because we had no sooner started fishing above the rapids and she plunked a lure down into a small eddy right on the edge of where the rapids started.  You know where this is going.  Yep, she got another fish on. And it was large enough to where it was giving her a serious fight swimming UP CURRENT. Finally the fish gave up and went into the rapids.  This is where Sarah's inexperience finally caught up with her.

She made the mistake of trying to pull the fish up the rapids.  I tried yelling but she couldn't hear me over the water.  So she lost the fish.  She said she got a glimpse of it and it was about the same size as the first one. I explained to her that when you get a fish in rapids like that you have to put as little pressure on the fish as possible and work it over to the side of the river where it's calmer.  Otherwise you risk the chance of ripping their jaw off. We'll never know for sure what happened, but that's probably what happened.

We continued fishing around what we call the "middle pool".  This is a pool that formed between a long fast moving stretch of 8in water and the lower section below the falls.  There is an area of deep water in this section and sometimes the bass are huge (as Sarah found). We got a couple strikes but nothing serious so we kept moving up river.

This stretch of river is rough. The water is just barely too shallow to paddle, and just deep enough to make it hard to walk.  But we knew above this 1/4 mile stretch there was a huge pool the size of a lake. So we got out and started walking up river. Think of this like walking upstairs. The water was deep enough to where you couldn't quite lift your feet out so each step was a slight chore and by 1000 steps later it was just plain hard work.

Finally we got up to the upper lake and started fishing.  The water was still very clear though not quite as nice as the lower portion. We were still using our favorite 1/8th or 1/4oz buzz baits by Booyah and fishing the bank as close as we could get.  I caught several bass that were probably just barely legal.  Sarah wasn't catching much of anything...

I measured it for her.  Had a huge bite out of the tail!
And it happened AGAIN.  We were both fishing the same bank, working our way up the same side with her fishing about 100ft behind me. I got antsy and decided to try the other side. She stood up and started fishing the area I had just been.... and BAM, she catches another large bass. This one was again over 20 inches and weighed a cool 4.5 pounds.  This fish was slightly smaller than the earlier one so now we both wonder if the first one was over 5lbs.

This would mean she would now hold the record between us for largest bass AND longest bass.  Yes, several years ago when she was using a casting rod for the first time, she caught a 23.25 inch bass at Chandler Park lake in Georgetown. So it would appear she hold the longest and
Caught at Chandler Park in Georgetown in August 2013.
heaviest bass record now.  Looks like I'm going to have to take this to the next level!

Really though, I'm quite proud of her.  She's done very well and has much more patience with fishing than I do. She's more likely to just keep fishing and not worry about the outcome where I fish so hard I forget to relax some times. All in all, she's an inspiration to me to keep fishing and not worry about the results, just enjoy, have a good time, and enjoy the fish when you get them!

It wasn't too long after this that it started sprinkling.  Then it stopped, then it started again and it acted like it wasn't going to stop for a while.  So we decided to head back.  Robert took off a few minutes before we did since we stopped to put our rain gear on.  We didn't want to be caught on the river in a Texas gully washer so we took off hard to get back down the river. Between the rain and the tree that tried to take us off our kayaks, the ride back was fairly exciting. Nearly lost my Jacaru!

But we made it back without issue and got loaded up. Robert stopped by on his way out and then we were off back to the house.

Was a good day for fishing. Got a little soggy but over all we really enjoyed the day.

Hope you enjoyed the narrative!  I haven't done as many of these lately and I know some of you really enjoy them.  I'll see if I can add some video of our adventures that day!

Update 11/29:  As promised, here's the video I put together of that day!  Enjoy!

Fishing the San Gabriel River








Tight Lines Y'all!

Mike
GeeksFishToo





1 comment:

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