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Fishing in the Guadalupe
Friday, October 19, 2012
The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of the elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope. John Buchan
Like golf, fishing is an activity that has certain rituals, sacred cows and a vaguely rabid tinge to its adherents. At Riven Rock Ranch we have nearly a mile of the Guadalupe River to entice the fisherman in any guest.
Catfish, bass, sunfish and perch can be found in the river, as well as turtles. You certainly don't have to be an expert to enjoy a few hours with a rod and reel. And time on the river is a joy, even if you don't catch anything.
The Upper Guadalupe is home to three kinds of catfish; the channel, blue and flathead (or appaloosa) cats. The non-native appaloosas can grow to 60 or more pounds, and at that size, they are fish-eating machines. Not good for indigenous populations. Twenty or thirty years ago it was popular for fishermen to hang appaloosa heads on their fenceposts. Victory over the interlopers.
Bass present a happier story. You'll find smallmouth, largemouth and (found only in the headwaters of the Guadalupe, San Antonio, Nueces and Colorado Rivers) Guadalupe bass. The Guadalupe is, in fact, the State Fish of Texas and is distinguished from other black bass by the distinctive black diamond-shaped spots on its sides. It has adapted to flowing streams and prefers to eat crawfish, insect larvae and other fish.
Smallmouth and Guadalupe began interbreeding at some point. In Johnson Creek, west of Kerrville, the percentage of hybrids reached 30%. Texas Parks and Wildlife has been active in breeding Guadalupe bass and stocking the river and its tributaries since 1992. Gary Garrett, of Heart of the Hills Fisheries, whose project was stocking, said, "We were losing our state fish! We began by putting fingerlings into Johnson Creek, to see if that would solve the problem. It was so successful we expanded to the North Fork and the South Fork (of the Guadalupe)." Hybrids are down to a tolerable 3%. This past winter close to 100,000 fingerlings were released upstream.
Garrett continued, "In contrast, the Blanco River had a similar problem, but stocking didn't help. We gave up after two years. Ironically, in 2011 because of drought, the Blanco was a series of puddles. We actually walked the river and seined out the hybrids and this year we stocked again. We'll see. . . ."
Texas Parks and Wildlife has a PDF brochure on the fish that explains that the bag limit for the Guadalupe Bass is the same as for other bass: five a day, but surprisingly, there is no minimum length limit. The record for size is 3 pounds, 11 ounces.
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