Report: My Last Trip to the Guadalupe River for the 2022-23 Trout Fishing Season, Paul Robertson

Well, it’s time for another season of fishing on the Guadalupe River to end.  Last year (2021-22) I joined the Guadalupe River Trout Unlimited lease access program. Once you are in the river, you are okay, legally.  But getting to the river usually means crossing private property, which requires permission. The lease access program provides permission at about a dozen places. In last year’s season, I spent 22 days on the Guadalupe River. I had a blast and learned a lot. So, I joined the lease access program again this year. This year I was able to be there 24 days. On most of the trips I was able to fish with friends, which made the trips even more memorable. 

This past Monday (March 6)  I headed over to the river with my friend Steve Edwards. This time the weather was conducive for us to tent camp, which is my preferred way to go. After some medical appointments in the morning we headed over. We arrived in time to set up camp and enjoy a nice meal of homemade chicken noodle soup. After that it was time to sit and watch the river, talk about fishing and life, and enjoy the stars and full moon. This was pretty much our routine each evening. We didn’t solve all the world’s problems, but we tried. 

We fished morning and evenings Tuesday and Wednesday, and a few hours Thursday morning. Our routine was to get up, have our coffee (me) and hot tea (Steve), eat a light breakfast, then head out to fish. Around mid-day we would head back to the camp, have lunch, and rest a few hours. The temperature was getting up on the mid-80s in the afternoon. Water temperatures in the morning were about 66 degrees and rose to 68 degrees in the afternoons. Around 3:00 we would fish another spot until about 6:00 or so. 

We caught trout most outings. Because of the warm weather, the sunfish were also active and we caught more of them than I had ever caught there during trout season. 

Thursday morning was actually my best outing this year. I went to a run in the river where I had caught some fish before. 

I headed down to the bottom of the run. I started with a nymph rig under an indicator. I used a Y2K for an attractor and a red zebra midge on the bottom. I worked my way up the run. I got six fish hooked and missed that many more. Two got off quickly; one broke my line on a rock; two got off after a good fight (early releases); one ended up in the net. I worked my way up to and around some larger trees that hang low over the water. It is just not possible to get an indicator under them with a good drift. But I kept thinking that there must be some fish under those trees. 

So, I decided to pull out my other rod which I rigged with a Thin Mint attractor and a soft hackle fly with a little red in the body as a trailer (since I had been catching them with a red zebra midge). I began to work my way back down the same run, only this time swinging the streamers. With this rig I was able to side arm cast under the trees. I caught five as I worked my way down the run and three were under the trees where I couldn’t get to with an indicator rig. I had one additional good take. I really liked the way those trout took the soft hackles. No questions about a take. And I think I did fairly well at strip setting. I chased several down stream to wear them out and finally get them upstream from me so I could net them above me rather than below me—heads up and coming downstream into the net. I’m learning!  I had taken a seminar at Troutfest on how to land them and I tried applying what I had learned. All this was 8:00-10:30. Twelve trout on and six in the net. In addition, I caught a few sunfish. I’ll take that just about any day!

It was then time to pack up camp and head home.

So ended my Guadalupe River 2022-23 trout season. I am so grateful: to have been able to spend 24 days on the river, to have caught many fish, that I was not hurt, for a supportive wife, to be alive and in reasonably for good health, and for friends with which to share the experiences and have good conversation.

Being in the water fly fishing benefits my mental and spiritual well-being in a number of ways. In the water I feel a sense of awe. I experience a sense of being connected to something greater than myself. I had many experiences of deep feelings of worship as I stood in the river, connected with the Creator.

Being in the water fishing also provides soothing sensory experiences. The sounds, the smells and sight of a body of water is relaxing. They help me to stay centered and find a calming, positive state of mind.

Being in the water fishing also facilitates mindfulness and reflection. Water in a flowing river is dynamic. It has different colors. It has different shapes.  It has different sounds. It is moving. While standing in the river, my my attention is on those things rather than all the noise of the world. 

There is something rhythmic about fly fishing. The back and forth rhythmic cadence of casting helps me to take all my troubles and cast them far away, even if just for a little while. The catching of a fish and releasing it reminds me that there can be new beginnings for me as well. 

Steve Ramirez said it well: “Fly fishing reminds me to slow down, live now, let go. I cast as I breath. I retrieve line to the rhythm of my heart beating. And so, I stand in the river casting back and forth, trying to lose that feeling of being alone. It is then that the rainbow rises and takes my offering. I raise my rod, and all at once, I am no longer alone. I am connected to his powerful runs, facing into the current. Silver line connects us, both fighting to live—two beating hearts. He comes to my net. I hold him gently, rocking him back and forth in the cold rushing water. ‘Gain your strength, dear warrior,’ I say. Am I speaking to him or to myself? With a kick of his tail, he returns to the river—and I go with him.” 

I am a blessed man.

Paul E. Robertson
Ph.D., M.Div., ACPE Certified Educator
“Retired from work, but not from life.”

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