Winter in the Hill Country Get Outside and Enjoy!

By Shane Reynolds

With the often mild winters we see in the Kendall County area, there’s plenty of time to remain active in and around Cordillera Ranch, either hunting, fishing or camping.

Hunting

Hunting is the most popular winter outdoor activity, but there are many other options. If you’re not a hunter, but you’re a gun and shooting enthusiast, then you should definitely try the sporting clays course, wobble trap, 5-stand and flush at the Gun Club, or come out and shoot at our hand gun or archery range. The Gun Club is located on the far west end of the ranch in a beautiful Texas Hill Country setting.

If you are interested in an upland bird or deer hunt, we have a great relationship with our friends at Joshua Creek Ranch. Only 30 minutes from Cordillera Ranch, Joshua Creek Ranch occupies a uniquely diverse terrain including miles of Joshua Creek and Guadalupe River bottomland planted in fields of grain crops for prime pheasant hunting habitat; borders of limestone bluffs that rise to oak and elm studded pastures lush with prairie grasses providing perfect quail hunting cover; and densely wooded areas conducive to Texas deer hunting, both Whitetail and Axis. You’ll call it paradise when you experience the combination of this pristine hunt country with the outstanding cuisine and up-scale lodging accommodations at Joshua Creek Ranch.

Fishing

If shooting is not something you enjoy, consider some local trout fishing. Many people do not realize we have an outstanding trout fishery only 34 miles from the Clubhouse at Cordillera Ranch. When Canyon Lake was impounded in 1966, the cold water released from the bottom of the lake created an ideal environment for trout. San Antonian Harry Jersig was president of the Lone Star Brewing Company and also a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department commissioner, and at his behest the brewery financed a three-year stocking program in the Guadalupe River below Canyon Dam.

Although its proximity to Jersig’s home may have had something to do with the choice of location, the main reason lay in the way Canyon Dam was constructed. Many dams use floodgates located at the top of the dam to release water. Canyon Dam is different — it releases water from near the bottom of the lake. Water from this deep level is cold and rainbow trout, which are native to frigid mountain streams in western North America, thrive in cold water. The Guadalupe River below Canyon Dam normally remains below 70 degrees Fahrenheit year-round for up to 10 miles below the dam, allowing rainbows to survive most of the year.

Fast forward to the present day and now the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and the Guadalupe River Chapter of Trout Unlimited (GRTU) lead the charge on stocking. The state stocks trout during the winter (five sites from Canyon Dam downstream to Camp Hueco Springs), and anglers can now enjoy the serenity of fishing for trout on cold winter days. Although the stocking sites are popular, many fly-fishing enthusiasts instead seek a restricted 9.5-mile stretch of the river. That area is defined in the TPWD’s Outdoor Annual as being from the second bridge crossing on River Road in Comal County upstream to the easternmost bridge crossing on FM 306. In addition to the trout stocked by TPWD, trophy-sized trout stocked by the GRTU lurk there and may be kept only if caught on artificial lures or flies.

GRTU began providing lease access points for its members in the late ’80s, and there are now roughly 17 such access points. GRTU annually stocks approximately 12,000 pounds of rainbows up to 18 inches in length at six to nine different sites. An agreement was negotiated between GRTU and the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority that helps provide a minimum flow from the dam during the warm weather to maintain a temperature in which trout can survive.

If you are not experienced with trout fishing or fly casting, I encourage to contact Colt Dorr with our Outdoor Recreation program. He enjoys introducing others to the art of fly fishing and we have equipment as well. There’s a lot to learn about trout and trout fishing, and it often seems bewildering to a beginner. A free event in February near the river may help unveil some of the mystery, though. It’s an expo of trout fishing lore called TroutFest, and is presented by GRTU with valued assistance from TPWD staff. Colt will be taking a group of our Club members to this event and you will see us advertise the program as we get closer to the date.

Other rivers and lakes in the area, including the San Marcos, Frio, Nueces and Sabinal River near Bandera, are great as well during mild winter days for warm water species. We’ll also be offering some outings to the coast during the winter months in search of speckled trout and redfish.

As the Outfitter at Cordillera Ranch, we can guide or arrange for your family or guests to do a variety of outdoor recreation activities, so don’t hesitate to contact us. Whether you’re looking for an upland bird hunt, an offshore fishing trip, a family camping adventure or a backpacking trip to a secluded wilderness area, it’s my pleasure to be of service to you.

Have a great winter!

Shane Reynolds is the Outdoor Recreation Director at The Clubs of Cordillera Ranch. He can be reached at outfitter@cordilleraranch.com or 210.616.6051.

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