IN SEARCH OF THE TEXAS STATE FISH
Sage Ambassador Dylan Mendoza is a Texas fly fishing guide who specializes in redfish and bass. With conditions in the Austin area deteriorating on this day, Dylan called a variable and headed south to the home of Texas’ state fish—the Guadalupe Bass.
The Guadalupe Bass—a fish only found in Texas—isn’t necessarily known for its size, like its big-mouthed cousin. But they more than make up for it by living in some of the most beautiful country in the state.
Of course, no drive over 30 minutes in Texas is complete without a stop at Buc-ee’s, a Lonestar State institution with an endless supply of everything you didn’t know you need for a fishing trip, including breakfast burritos, kolaches, and “Beaver Nuggets,” which are as excellent as they sound.
After a meet-up in the parking lot, we discussed the day’s game plan over tacos and coffee as the sun began to peak over the eastern horizon and shine down on us like a bass-filled blessing.
Every day on the water should start with a healthy dose of optimism, and there’s nothing more optimistic than starting the day off with popper-rigged rods—especially when the water is a bit higher and dirtier than expected.
Though we hammered all the likely spots, the morning’s popper session yielded only a few half-hearted eats and no bass to the boat.
Sometimes optimism gives way to realism. After a slow start, we rigged yellow and white streamers and worked slightly faster currents instead of structure and banks, and the bass started playing along.
With the sun high in the sky, the poppers came back out. It’s hard not to be confident in the splashy bloops of a hunk of foam and googly eyes working along deep, undercut, foliage-covered banks.
Leave it to the local to find the fish of the day. Dylan tagged a 3-pound Guadalupe—a true rarity—during the afternoon popper session. The fish was handsome as they come, and a perfect reminder of why surface eats just can’t be matched.
After a few more hours, the afternoon doldrums hit. The temps climbed into the mid-90s and the bass decided they’d had enough. Time to pack it in.
Dylan’s change in plans ended up being the right move. To celebrate, we swung by Buc-ee’s on the way back home for some ice-cold rewards to accompany the stories that would be told over tacos that night.
When fishing big poppers and deer hair bugs, enduring the hot Texas sun, and placing technical casts into heavy structure, it becomes rather obvious that a setup dialed to the specific application is going to greatly aid in success rate. When Guads are on the hit-list, Captain Dylan Mendoza more often than not reaches for a PAYLOAD 789-4. A powerful rod that loads deep into the cork allows for easy throwing of large flies, and the slightly shorter length creates the opportunity to tuck casts into shade lines and woody overhangs with laser accuracy. Paired with a SPECTRUM Max 7/8 and RIO's DirectCore Jungle series line, this setup is ideal for the Lone Star state fish and many other ditch pickle pursuits.
Captain Dylan Mendoza is a fly fishing guide and Sage Ambassador based out of Austin, TX, calling Lone Star bass haunts and redfish flats his home waters. Head to the link below to learn more about Dylan and book a trip on his home waters to put some of this gear to work.
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