When you first see the streams of the southern Texas Hill Country, you’ll most likely think, “This is Texas?” The waters run swift, cool and clear over a bed of pale rocks, looking like a swimming pool on the move. Palm and cypress trees line the streams, which cut through steep, rocky hills clothed austerely in mesquite.
And there’s fish in them thar hills, too. Colorful fish with fancy names to match: Guadalupe bass, Rio Grande perch- actually a cichlid, the northernmost relative of the peacock bass-and a plethora of pretty sunfish. For a March adventure, it’s hard to beat a canoe float down the Frio, Sabinal or Nueces river.
You’ll do well with ultralight tackle and 4-pound-test line, tossing small jigs, spinners or crankbaits. However, these streams beg to be fished with a fly rod. A four- or five-weight rod is about right. Spool your reel with floating line and you’re ready to fish. Use small Woolly Buggers in olive or black, surface poppers in white or yellow, or Clouser minnow patterns with a bit of flash in them. You can buy what you need at Tackle Box Outfitters in nearby San Antonio (210-821-5806, www.tackle boxoutfitters.com).
Access to some Hill Country streams can be a tricky endeavor, since they flow primarily through private lands. I recommend hiring a guide for your first excursion. I was happy with Aaron Riggins of Pescado Con Moscas in Uvalde (830-486-5629, www.southwesttexflyfishing.com). For lodging, I recommend Frio Country Resort near Concan (888-926-6226, www .friocountry.com). Proprietor Clint Arthur runs a lovely camp with comfortable modern cabins right on the banks of the beautiful Frio River. While there, talk to Clint about guided fall hunts for doves and whitetails.