I got a late start. I woke up around 6, but it took me a solid 45 minutes to tend to the dog, throw on some clothes, and double check my gear. I rushed through my morning routine to get a jump on the two hour drive to Possum Kingdom, better known as PK. I hopped in the car and headed out.
The fog was thick and collected on my windshield, not quite raining, but definitely wet. I wound down the small TX highways and Farm to Market roads with one thing on my mind, big river Striper and the promise of unexpectedly clean water. The tailwater section of the Brazos River is promptly South of the Possum Kingdom dam site, and every time I’ve fished this water it has yielded either big fish in big quantities, or small fish in even bigger quantities.
As I pulled off of highway 16 (no more than two miles from the best damned Whataburger in Texas) onto Red Bluff road the dam became visible through the still thick fog in the air.
The Brazos River Authority hit the nail on the head when they developed this area. There is a giant gravel parking area, about a half dozen wooded tent camping sites (which are amazingly free and equipped with fire rings and picnic tables), and the cleanest, newest porcelain flush toilets I’ve ever seen at any park anywhere.
It was about 8:30 by this time. The fog had been burned off by the appearance of the sun. Old boy I met the previous month was back in his diesel powered short bus which was constantly being updated, outfitted, and as he put it “tidied up” to serve as his traveling home. Unlike me and my late start this morning, this lucky bastard woke up there. He walked toward me with his attack miniature pinscher in the lead. I already had my trunk open and my waders halfway on. It was early, but I offered him a can of beer all the same. I felt it was the right thing to do since I was already half way through mine. He obliged and we shot the breeze, beer in hand, as I got my rod together and my leader changed.
The best part about this stretch of the Brazos is that it can be pretty difficult to access. Let me clarify; it can be difficult to access if you’re afraid to get your feet wet, and it seems as most people are. This makes it a very peaceful fishing experience. Once you make the climb down the loose rocks and get down to the water it becomes as easy to navigate as most large shallow rivers. The water is clear, the rocks are as stable as can be expected, and there is an absence of garbage floating in the water.
This fishery is targeted by bait and spin fishers for its abundant population of striped bass and catfish, but it is home to many more fish species. I have been lucky enough to land stripers, two varieties of largemouth bass, many sunfish breeds, white bass, smallies, channel catfish, spotted and long-nose gar, and black drum. I often see large schools of carp, but I believe carp hate me and my flies as I’ve never caught one there.
I start the morning by casting a Clouser minnow variation that I came up with. It’s really just a poor copy of a fly that an acquaintance of mine ties, but it works beautifully all the same. It takes about a half hour of fishing before I can produce a strike by casting at the opposite shore in a deep skinny channel of the river where the main body of water below the dam splits in two.
I cast at the boulders on the shore, strip a couple feet to insure I don’t get hung up since my casts are getting more distance than I am trying to give them due to wind speed, and let the fly sink, and sink, and sink, then strip in short fast bursts to give the artificial fly some real life. I strike gold! Nothing monstrous, but I get in a rhythm of catching 12-18’ stripers on almost every cast. This is what its about. The action slows down after what seemed like 10 minutes but was really about an hour.
I pick up my feet and head through the channel’s “island” to access the other fork where the river splits. This fork is wider, shallower, and usually packed with fish where it spills into a large round pool before getting skinny and fast again. Today was no exception. Casting the same Clouser, I aim for the pool. The current is swift enough that I can get quite a good drift and as soon as my line straightens out I strike gold again. Fish after fish until my fighting arm is fatigued. Again, nothing giant, but consistent numbers of healthy stripers and sand bass. It almost reminded me of fishing a Colorado river the way the drift worked so well.
At this point it was about 2:00pm. I decided to make the hike out and get a bite to eat. The cliff bar and little bit of jerky I had couldn’t ease my hunger pangs. As I sat on the picnic bench I was parked next to waiting for my waders to be dry enough to pack up I start thinking about an old fashioned Whataburger my buddy Andrew had told me about on my last visit out to the PK area. It’s just two miles away, and I can almost taste it.