This Year’s Final Walk on the Monday Morning Sidewalk

| December 30, 2013

drew chicone feather brain texoma drawdown fish kill houston ponds texas fly fishing blue river oklahoma

Whoa. Where did the time go? I am checking in and out of fly consciousness during the extended holiday break, and interesting contacts (Contact Me Page) have come across the transom during the holiday season.

Lately, I had to reschedule my Galveston Island fly fishing trip to take some personal scheduling into account. Honestly, Grandma is still in South Texas until next weekend when she blows into Houston – like a hurricane. I figure I better get back over to see her while she’s within range. It may mean missing out on a camping trip to Texoma islands, but more on that …


I am getting a few calls and text messages, from family mostly, about a lot of dead fish in the Houston area ponds right now. My first instinct was tilapia, and once I got a look at a pond last week, that’s what they’re seeing. I am amazed by the sheer number and sizes of the tilapia I am seeing in the Houston ponds. These are private development ponds, so I don’t really know a lot about the TPWD policy for putting tilapia in these ponds, and whether they are considered a catch-and-kill fish in private ponds – like they are in public waters. Since we are in Texas, I assume folks can do whatever they want in private ponds. Does anybody know how private owners get tilapia, and if they are subject to the same State regulations?

I saw tilapia from a half-pound all the way up to the three-pound range which tells me they don’t all die off when cold sets in. And it is entirely possible that it didn’t get cold enough last year for this size fish kill. It does bode well for big fish opportunity in the spring in some of these established ponds, and I have switched to tying several dozen Clousers in purples to get ready for spring fly fishing in Houston ponds. As much as it would be fun to catch and eat these guys, I bet they are pretty well contaminated by neighborhood runoff. Houstonians love their fake green lawns too. I wonder if we could get TPWD to test these fish?

IFFF Guide Association Member

I’ve been Google searching for anything I can find about a rumored drawdown of Lake Texoma, and so far I haven’t found anything to confirm the rumor that they will draw 20-feet down from where the lake is in order to restore lake Lavon via the new pipeline that deals with zebra mussels. I did stumble across this Region C water document which has some enlightening (alarming) numbers on North Texas water supplies.
We drove over Texoma at HWY 377 on Saturday, and at about -7 feet, the flotilla of guide boats were obviously relegated to the Red River channel, and swarming on that, the deepest striper water left on the lake in that area. It’s mind boggling to think of seventeen more feet taken off the surface (settling at 590). Perhaps you know something about this rumor / story? Shame on me for repeating it!


I made another trip to the Blue River Catch-and-release area this past Saturday, and it was nothing close to the action of our last trip to fly fish the Blue River. It was a bluebird sky and warm. As we began searching for other explanations, I came to believe that the stocking of the C-n-R area hasn’t happened since our last trip. And normally, that shouldn’t matter, but there is obviously some predation going on in that area (I found a cork floating in some brush). That area has always been rumored to be heavily poached – to the point they were considering ending the stocking of that area a few years back, and it would probably be “shooting fish in a barrel” for predatory birds … but we didn’t see any new truck tracks leading to the C-n-R stocking dumps. My theory is the week of ice diverted the regular C-n-R stocking to the kill area, or completely missed the Blue River altogether.

I did catch one that went about seventeen inches, and JH managed three or four on his own as well. We used some pretty typical flies and techniques for the area, no since in reinventing the wheel. (Comment and ask if you just need to know)

Why is it I already have spring fever when all the old-timer-locals are saying the brutal winter still lies ahead? Time for a change in latitude-attitude. Regardless, the weather does mean flies are being produced in unprecedented quantities this winter.


I hardly bother tying small flies anymore, and concentrate a lot of tying energy on Texas flies for spring and summer months. The other day I came across a guy who obviously has the ability, creativity and quality of work on the bench that I admire. I don’t know much about Drew Chicone, but he appears to be a young fly fishing juggernaut out of Southwestern Florida, Sanibel, and has a book out titled, “Feather Brain: Developing, Testing, & Improving Saltwater Fly Patterns” by Chicone, Drew (Aug 1, 2013). Take a look at his website, and you’ll see what I am talking about – Okay, so he’s a photographer too, isn’t everyone these days? He definitely has a fresh, modern look in an age of useless withering and dying old geezer websites.

He has some heavy hitting sponsors, and is completely on board with Clear Cure Goo, which just adds to his 21st. Century cred. in my book. I’ll be buying the book probably on Kindle for iPad, and will let you know how that looks.

Happy New Year for 2014! All I can say is it has to be better than 2013. What are your New Year’s resolutions for 2014? I know it will be my most unusual year since starting this site in 2007, and it promises to be the most interesting “ride along” yet. So buckle up, be safe, arrive safe, and get ready for another year of fly fishing in Texas and beyond. STAY TUNED for the annual music countdown coming out before the year turns.

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Category: Adventure, Fish Kill, Fishing Reports, Oklahoma Report

About the Author () is where to find my other day job. I write and photograph fish stories professionally, and for free here! Journalist by training. This site is for telling true fishing news stories, unless otherwise noted.

Comments (1)

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  1. Ron says:

    I think you have to have a permit for the duration of the tilapia being in the water. They may be getting killed off because they were stocked without a permit.

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