Report: Fishing the San Marcos

by Paul Robertson

I spent Monday (3/13) fly fishing with good friends Tom Strawther and Kevin Hutchinson. Kevin is the guide and owner of Hill Country Flyfishers. He is one of the most well known and respected guides in the Texas Hill Country. He is also a long-time friend and support of our local Texas Flyfishers of Houston club.

We decided to do a float trip down a section of the San Marcos River. The temperature was a little cool in the morning, along with a stiff breeze.  But the temperature warmed up and the day turned out to be just beautiful. As usual, Kevin provided a wonderful stream-side lunch. 

We caught bass and sunfish throughout the day. The bluegill photo below is of one caught by Tom. It was one of the largest bluegill I have seen in the Texas Hill Country. 

One of the more exciting moments happened in the afternoon. We were slowing floating past a cliff on our right side. Tom hooked a small bass. As he was pulling it in, another large bass came up from the bottom and inhaled it. It took off. Tom was overheard saying, “This is going to be a tough one.” Tom struggled to slow it down. He had a fight on his hands with his light 4wt rod—as they say, “just not enough backbone in that rod.” Our eyes were all as big as saucers. After a while, the larger bass slowed down and then let go of the one Tom had caught. Only to come back and take it again! This happened at least four times. After several back and forth encounters of the large bass inhaling it and spitting it out, Tom had the smaller bass close to the raft. We thought the battle was over, but the larger bass made one last effort—he took it … and spit it out again. This time the bass looked our way, saw us and our raft. With an angry look in his eyes, it swam off to pursue other baitfish for its afternoon meal. During that battle, as the two fish got closer to the boat and the larger bass would let got of the smaller one, I tried to cast a streamer fly in the area, hoping he would inhale my fly. No luck. When Tom finally got the small bass in the boat, it looked beat up, wide-eyed, and quite stunned. Miraculously, however, it had lived through it all and was released and very slowly swam away. It was bruised, but at least it wasn’t belly up! All three of us got a good look at the larger bass and all three of us estimated it to be over five pounds. It took awhile for Tom’s heart rate to level out. 

I found it quite interesting to watch Kevin get the raft down a dam at one point. He talked about riding it down, but in the end he chose to rope it down. I think that was a wise decision.

It was another great day to be alive and “inhaling” the Great Outdoors.

“Fishing is a contest between humans and nature, a drama that has been playing out for hundreds of thousands of years. Fly fishing to my way of thinking, is the most beautiful way to play a role in that drama—sometimes tragedy, sometimes farce, but always riveting.” — Peter Kaminsky

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

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