Shane Reynolds, Outdoor Recreation Director & Outfitter
Fishing float trips, either fly or conventional, offer many advantages to both novice and expert anglers. While wade fishing a river or stream is a pleasant way to spend a few hours stalking trout or bass, a float trip down a river gives fishermen opportunities that can’t be matched from shore. For the last thirty years as a guide, I have spent countless hours fishing with clients and I believe float fishing is often the best way to maximize the potential of catching more fish. It’s also a peaceful and easy way to fish.
The biggest advantage of a float trip is simply the fact that drifting down remote water allows anglers to put their flies and tackle over more trout and bass than is ever possible while wading. Rather than casting to the same fish over and over, from a raft, every new riffle, undercut bank and bend in the river creates new possibilities with trout that are often unreachable by anglers who are limited by walking or by rivers that are too deep to cross safely. Anglers who do enjoy wading are able to get out of the boat to thoroughly fish prime areas that rarely see other wade fishermen. Dry fly fishing and streamer fishing generally require wading anglers to stay on the move to look for new fish, but from a boat, each cast puts your dry fly or streamer into new territory.
Fishing Productive Bank Water
Wading anglers are often standing where the fish would prefer to be feeding. Banks offer both security and food for trout and bass. Grasshoppers, ants, frogs and insects commonly fall into the water near the bank and the fish look for them there, sometimes holding mere inches from shore. From a boat, these productive holding areas can be fished easily without spooking the fish.
Some fishermen just have trouble wading safely. Older anglers and young children can be challenged when dealing with moving water and slick rocks. Even experienced anglers can have trouble wading in high, fast currents. Float fishing trips eliminate the risk of trying to negotiate rushing water, over “greased bowling balls,” logjams and other wading hazards. Anglers can comfortably fish while standing or sitting in a raft and relax to take breaks to enjoy the scenery if they get tired. Often, it isn’t even necessary to wear waders, which makes for a more comfortable day when the mercury rises on summer afternoons.
Fishing from a raft also allows the guide to give his anglers a better shot at catching more and bigger fish. From an elevated position above the water, fly casting is made easier. In addition to casting, mending, setting the hook and spotting fish are all easier from the higher location anglers fish from in a raft. Longer “drag free” drifts can be achieved while the boat drifts with the flies. In the event a truly large, trophy-sized fish is hooked, playing the fish is easier from the boat. The guide is also able to follow the fish should it decide to go on a long run downstream. Rising trout can be approached from upstream. The first thing they see is the fly drifting towards them. This increases the percentage of hookups and decreases the chance of spooking fish.
Carrying Gear and People
All wade fishermen must carry what they may need on their backs. In a boat, lunch and drinks are kept cold in a cooler. Cameras can be stowed in dry storage, and extra rods can be brought along in the boat. Additionally, two anglers can fish from the same boat. It’s nice to have a buddy to converse with throughout the day. It’s also great to have someone to snap photos of your trophy fish.
What to Bring
Generally, our outfitter staff will have you covered for flies, gear and water, but bring your own equipment if you prefer. As mentioned earlier, waders are often optional. A buff face and neck guard is an excellent way to avoid a sunburn. The technical fabric breathes and beats the sun coming from above and reflecting off the water. A lanyard for tippet, clippers, hemostats and floatant is handy. Don’t forget raingear, polarized sunglasses and sunscreen.
Wading is a great way to get close to the fish and immerse yourself in the environment bass and trout call home. However, it is hard to beat a day of floating down a beautiful river like the Guadalupe, San Marcos, Llano or Devils. All while your outfitter staff rows and offers instruction. The scenery and wildlife alone are worth a float. However, you will cover more water and cast to more trout and bass than is possible on any wade fishing trip.
The outfitter service at The Clubs of Cordillera Ranch focuses on a few bodies of water for our fresh water float trips. The trout season on the lower Guadalupe River in Satler runs from November through April. On that particular trip, we are fishing the tailrace below Canyon Lake for stocked Rainbow and Brown trout, stocked by Trout Unlimited and the State of Texas.
On the upper Guadalupe in and around Cordillera Ranch, we are targeting warm water species such as the Guadalupe bass, various species of sunfish and even carp.
On the San Marcos and Llano Rivers, we also target warm water species such as largemouth bass, Guadalupe bass, various sunfish and cichlid, as well as carp.
On our favorite river, the Devils, which flows into Lake Amistad north of Del Rio, we are targeting smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, gar and carp. The Devils is the most pristine river in Texas by far.
For more information on guided float fishing trips, contact the Outfitter Center at The Clubs of Cordillera Ranch.
Shane Reynolds is the Outdoor Recreation Director and Outfitter at The Clubs of Cordillera Ranch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 210.616.6051.