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Troutfest 2017 Kicks Off Feb. 17

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Guadalupe River Trout Unlimited’s (GRTU) bi-annual Troutfest Banquet and Exposition returns Feb. 17-19 at the Lazy L&L Campground, 11699 River Road, New Braunfels.

The weekend exposition includes fly-tying seminars, a kids’ zone, fly casting instruction from IFF master-casting instructors, and speakers from around the country.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for children under 12. Click here to see event schedule for Saturday and Sunday along with a map of Troutfest grounds.

For a list of places to stay, click here. RV spaces are booking fast.

Although the Feb. 17 banquet is sold out, all Saturday and Sunday daytime events are free. Tickets for the 2017 Fly Fishing Film tour on Saturday night are still available.

Fishing for Kids

This year, GRTU expanded youth its activities in an effort to introduce a new generation to conservation efforts and the sport of fly fishing. In conjunction with Texas Parks and Wildlife, Troutfest 2017 offers kids fly-casting instruction,  fishing pond, archery and air-gun instruction.

Wanda Taylor, “The South’s First Lady of Fly Fishing,” will demonstrate casting instruction for women and kids only. She’s the first woman in the world to earn certification as a master certified casting instructor by the International Federation of Fly Fishers.

Speakers and Exhibitors

Keynote speaker is Kirk Deter, editor of Trout Magazine and vice president of Trout Media for Trout Unlimited. To learn more about Deter and other celebrity guests/presenters, click here.

To learn more about exhibitors, click here. To see a list of casting instructors, click here.here.

Trout Unlimited (TU) is a non-profit, conservation organization whose mission is to conserve, protect, and restore North America’s trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds for the benefit of future generations.

The Guadalupe River, located in Central Texas near New Braunfels between Austin and San Antonio is the southernmost freshwater trout fishery in the United States. With over 5,000 members throughout Texas, the Guadalupe River Chapter is the largest local chapter of TU.

Canyon Lake was created by the Army Corps of Engineers to control the seasonal flooding that occurs on the Guadalupe River. It was impounded in 1964, creating a lake covering 8,240 surface acres and 125 feet deep at the pool level of 909 feet above mean sea level.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) determined that the cold water discharges from the dam would displace the native warm water species naturally occurring in the river, and   introduced cold water species to utilize this new habitat.

New Public Access

In other 2016 trout-fishing news, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD)  signed temporary lease agreements with four Guadalupe River property owners to expand public access to the trout fishery downstream of Canyon Lake.

Public fishing access is now available at Rio Guadalupe Resort (formerly Rio Raft and Resort), and Whitewater Sports from Friday, Dec. 2, through May 2, 2017.

Additional access is available at Mountain Breeze Campground through April 16, and at Camp Huaco Springs until  March 12 (except the weekend of Feb. 25-26 when Camp Huaco Springs will be closed for a special event).

Click here to see a map of the trout fishing area of the Guadalupe River between the Canyon Lake dam and the City of New Braunfels.

Anglers at leased areas have free access to the river from 30 minutes before daylight until 30 minutes after dusk. They may use the properties for bank fishing and to launch non-motorized watercraft such as rafts, kayaks and canoes for the purpose of fishing.

These leases were made possible with grant funding provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program.

Please note: Two sections of this river are subject to special harvest regulations on rainbow and brown trout. In these sections, all trout harvested must be caught on artificial lures, and the following bag and size limits are in effect:

  • Beginning 800 yards downstream from the Canyon Dam release gate and extending to the easternmost bridge on FM Road 306, there is a 12-to-18-inch slot limit. Trout 12 inches and under or 18 inches and longer may be retained. Daily bag limit is five trout, and only one can be 18 inches or longer.
  • From the easternmost bridge on FM 306 downstream to the second bridge crossing on River Road, there is an 18-inch minimum size limit, and a one trout daily bag.

Recognized as one of the top 100 trout streams in America and the southernmost trout stream in the United States, this segment of the Guadalupe River is managed through special fishing regulations.

It is stocked in the winter months by TPWD  and the Guadalupe River Chapter of Trout Unlimited.

The leases provide anglers with free access to the Guadalupe River at the four properties from 30 minutes before daylight until 30 minutes after dusk. Anglers may use the properties for bank fishing and to launch non-motorized watercraft such as rafts, kayaks and canoes for the purpose of fishing. The leases were made possible with funding provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program.

For additional information or directions to the leased fishing access areas, call or visit the following websites:
Mountain Breeze Campground , 9250 River Road, New Braunfels, TX 78132, 830-964-2484
Rio Guadalupe Resort (10 vehicle limit restriction), 14130 River Road, New Braunfels, TX 78132, 830-964-3613
Whitewater Sports , 11860 Farm to Market 306, New Braunfels, TX 78132, 830-964-3800
Camp Huaco Springs, 4150 River Road, New Braunfels, TX 78132, (830) 625-5430

For information on river fishing access areas throughout the state, including site-specific restrictions, click here.

In November, Guadalupe River Trout Unlimited (GRTU) began releasing into the Guadalupe River some 12,000 pounds of rainbows in three stockings, and 1,000 pounds of browns in another.

“You should experience the same good fishing as we had last year,” Jimbo Roberts, GRTU vice president of Fisheries explained in the group’s most-recent newsletter.

“We are on the verge of another season of Texas trout fishing. Plenty of big rainbows and with mean ole browns again prowling our river,” he says.

A $1.9 million impact

Their presence in the Guadalupe brings $1.9 million into the Canyon Lake-area economy, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

“The river is busy in winter months because of trout,” says Chris Johnson, owner of Living Waters Flyfishing in Round Rock.

Fly-fishing season

Canyon Lake’s trout fishing season runs from November through April. To see real-time fishing conditions, flow rates and water-temperature distribution, click here.

To see a map of the popular fishing area on the Guadalupe River between Canyon Lake dam and the City of New Braunfels, click here.

Many camps and resorts in this area offer river access to paying guests. Free public fishing is available year-round at Guadalupe Park just below the dam. During trout stocking season, free access may be offered via temporary lease agreements at other locations.

The sport attracts anglers of all ages, from eight years to almost 100, Johnson says.

About trout

Once trout are released they become public property, available for anyone to catch.

Trout are not native to the Guadalupe River because they don’t like warmer temperatures and usually die in water temperatures above 70 degrees.

Although they sometimes are spotted throughout the hot summer months, fly fishers are advised to avoid stressing them further by fishing.

Johnson says construction of Canyon Lake in the early 1960s created a “tailrace fishery.” Water released through the dam comes off the bottom of the lake, where temperatures are in the mid-50s.

“Water this cold is not a natural occurrence in the Texas Hill Country,” he says.

To learn more about the history of trout fishing along the Guadalupe River, click here.

GRTU’s next meeting

GRTU’s next general meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 22 at Canyon Regional Recreation Center Building, 125 Mabel Jones Dr., Canyon Lake. The event includes a $12 catered lunch to support conservation projects.

Attendees will learn a fly-fishing skill from a GRTU youth member. Lease-access orientation is scheduled for new lease members.

The 5,000-member GTRU is the largest chapter of the national group Trout Unlimited. It leases access points along the river from landowners and businesses, and uses fees from anglers to pay lease fees and purchase trout from hatcheries.

GTRU also funds scientific studies of its fishery and supports a number of educational programs for young people, including Trout in the Classroom and Trout Camp.

The organization contributes to such programs as Casting for Recovery, Reel Recovery and Project Healing Waters. GTRU also supports conservation efforts nationwide.

Other fishing activities and events can be found on websites run by area fishing guides like Johnson’s, livingwatersflyfishing.com. allwaterguides.com also is an all-water guide service which leads fresh- and saltwater fishing expeditions all over the state of Texas.

Canyon Lake’s Reelfly Fishing has a Nov. 26 class. Click here to learn more.

Fishing on Canyon Lake

As for Canyon Lake … bass fishing is good and there are still striper and catfish. TPWD posts regular — and colorful — fishing updates on its site.

As of Oct. 5, for example: “Water stained; 81-85 degrees; 0.20’ high. Black bass are fair on watermelon red Whacky Sticks, chartreuse crankbaits, and Texas rigged pumpkin Scoundrel worms. Striped bass are good trolling crankbaits around humps in the lower end of the lake. White bass are fair on minnows. Smallmouth bass are fair on white JDC grubs and pumpkinseed Curb’s jigs. Crappie are good on minnows and blue tube jigs upriver. Channel catfish are fair on shrimp and stinkbait. Yellow and blue catfish are fair on trotlines baited with live bait.”

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