Lake Buchanan Fly Fishing Report – From Salas

| March 31, 2015 | 0 Comments

lake buchanan fly fishing carp texas fly fishing

Salas First Fish 2015 - Courtesy I Salas

First fish of 2015! – Courtesy Immanuel Salas

Our thanks to Immanuel Salas for sending in this report on Lake Buchanan, Texas. As you recall, Lake Buchanan is one of the chain of lakes named the “Highland Lakes,” and it, like a lot of other Texas lakes, has had some tough times with the ongoing drought. Enjoy the read, and remember any stories submitted and published will garnish the writer a free Premium Content subscription for a year (whoot! whoot!).

So…There I was …

Running late for a 0730-ish sunrise at an unpopular Central Texas lake. I say unpopular, because I almost always have it to myself. Not because of its peacock tail colored water (Home Depot BEHR S-H-520), or because no one ever seems to be on it, nor because there is not a functioning boat ramp or because it’s so far north of the ATX, but because this drought has everyone scared to visit their lakes. With the receded water levels you can get out and go on a walkabout on previously unseen shores, it borders tropical, especially with the 82 degree, cloudless day and 15-20mph S/SW wind.

On the coast you take the forecasted wind speed, 15-20mph and add the numbers together to approximate a baseline wind, 15 + 20 = 35mph if I were in Matagorda, but here the weather man maintained his job security, at least until 1400 when it started to pickup. But I’m skipping ahead.

About this time last year the lack of water flowing into this same lake via a north feeding river prompted me to fish some windswept points on the S/SE shoreline for spawning hybrids so I kayaked over there (remember I said no BOAT launches, this place is choice for kayaks) and started working my points and limited on hybs and CnR for another hour. Returned the next day with a friend and put him on them as well. With the monsoon season we had (having) I figured that would not be the case this year, especially shoreline walking, but I started with a chart and white bead chain clouser anf hybrid hopes. Saw some surface activity beyond my casting range. Single strikes, not often, not schooled up. I could feel the carp fly box in my pack getting heavier and heavier as I walked the shore, seeing pools, coves and even smallish “ponds” created by heavy wind action. These were made of three sides of shore and the front door was a low sandbar with maybe 6-10 inches of wind shoved water cresting over it. I had seen Shannon work similar shorelines before with success and I could feel the carp box getting heavier still.

Just Checking In - Courtesy I Salas

CHUCKIT!

Stubborn, looking for silver and not gold, the clouser stayed loop knotted at the end of my fly line.
My fishing partner today was four dogs in one, a mutt named Domino. She had never been fly fishing before and she was certain she was supposed to fetch the hunter blaze orange tip of my fly line whenever I cast it across the water. Honestly she believes her mission is to fetch anything chucked into the water. Or on land. Or anywhere within her visual range. Luckily I had brought an actual Chuckit! Ball, so if I saw a fishy looking area I would Chuckit! far away and behind me. That would buy me about 5 seconds of quiet ‘til she came back and dropped it at my feet.

She patrolled the beach, chased shore birds, including a flock of all white pelicans (where were these guys from?) and rolling around in carp carcasses. BIG carp carcasses. Gross…but compelling. Some of their heads were bigger than softballs. That’s what I wanted to catch. So the lil brown bug grub thingie I had got tied on. I’d burned through all my Coyote Canyon Carp flies last year so some retail outlet’s over priced finest went on to my line. I wasn’t seeing much beside those occasional distant surface strikes, looked too sharp a motion for gar, figured Large Mouth, less likely the Hybs I originally wanted to tussle with until eventually I saw a lone long carp cruising a sharp decline. Well WE saw each other I guess because in a moment he bolted. But I started zeroing in my game, refocusing my eyes and attention, looking for that silhouette or bottom contrasted tail to waggle.

I kept finding these coves that seemed carpy. But I only found them after Domino had thoroughly scouted the area. And by “scouted” I mean she bounded into the water crashing and splashing as much as possible. Acceptable because I had a 45 minute drive home with her carp carcasses smelling self, so I didn’t mind her intermittent baths. But, she would eventually need to learn to spot and stalk. With some verbal corrections I kept her out of some promising areas, but her bounding energy and need to play brought her pretty close to these honey holes. But, now I was starting to see clouds of disturbed mud in the pools moments after Domino came by them. Ghostly hints of the mustached quarry I was seeking.

Then the seeking was over, because in successive pools and sheltered coves I started to see doubles and small groups. No tailing head walkers, no backs out of water, all subsurface. Many cruising, but some seeming to be actively feeding. You have to pretty much put the fly on their nose, but it must be a commotion less initial presentation or the gig is up. Wind blowing your flyline onto the carp spoils it too. I always blame the wind, it is never my errant casting. The other technique was to draw a line perpendicular and far enough ahead of a feeder, then of course work your fly back in front of the moving carp, hoping their paths intersect .

Carp Fly - Courtesy I Salas

But none of that worked. These dudes were acting funky. Spawning maybe? Some really seemed to be eating, but some lined up a foot or so apart, and even staggered behind each other, like an infantry echelon. Other times they would circle each other in a five foot area, some of them weaving in and amongst the others. All the time ambling about, not eating my fly. It was one of these mosh pits that I cast across (eek! Wait no, that was on purpose) and slowly twitched my fly back through. There was a decent mud cloud surrounding the 5-7 fish in this pod so I never saw, but felt the SLURP. Strip set! Necessary? Maybe not, but it was the first action I had all morning! And it was on. On-ish. He was a slug, good size and made an initial panicked run and in the shallow water he did some good splashing and thrashing which Domino immediately went to investigate. But, he was generally slow and steady. Played him more for the dog’s sake. She couldn’t quite figure out if this thing was a ball or a stick, but either way it needed to be sniffed.
Anyway we got that golden boy up on deck, snapped a pic and returned him to the water. Domino seemed pretty confounded by this and paw scratched at the carp several times, before it wriggled through the shallow muck and was off.

Found more pools and many more carp, big pods of them, I’d target a group of 6 and a team of four would slide into the mix. Was about 1400 now, wind was picking up, seemed to push more of that water into the coves and the carp followed it in. But I didn’t hook another fish. I hooked several twigs and branches and finally Domino understood what it was I was doing out here. Clearly I was finding sticks for her to play with. So I think she likes fly fishing now. If I can teach her to stealthily crouch behind me as I creep up to a carp pool I think I’ll take her fishing again.
Who am I kidding? I can’t go back out there without my fishhound!

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO

You can find information on the Highland Lakes here.

You can find the TPWD page for Lake Buchanan, Texas, here.

You can find information on Lake Buchanan water levels here.

You’ll have to find the TPWD links yourself – at this hour, the TPWD website is down.

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Category: Adventure, Central Texas, Complimentary Reading, Fishing Reports, Fly Fishing For Carp

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I write. I photograph. I fish, and I live.

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