On Saturday, May19, I floated the San Marcos river with a group from the Austin Fly Fishers. We floated from San Marcos City Park down to Pecan Park retreat, a private park, which is about 6 miles down river. Kevin Hutchinson, who guides on the San Marcos, was the trip coordinator. Kevin made arrangements for us to park our vehicles at Pecan Park, and the trip participants shuttled our cars down to the take out point before we began the float. We met at the park at 8:00 AM, and, after the shuttle and the usual milling around, we got on the water about 9:00. After a day of floating and fishing we arrived at the take out point about 5:00 PM.
The San Marcos River is a beautiful river; it easy to understand why it is so popular with kayakers and tubers. The fishing can be a little challenging because trees on both sides overhang the narrow river and are eager to grab your back cast (and your fore cast too!). If you are in a canoe or kayak the river current (it was 198 cfs, which is above normal but not extreme) requires constant paddle adjustments to manage the craft, and it can be difficult to find the time to put the paddle down and pick up your rod. I floated this stretch two years ago, also with the Austin Fly Fishers, in an aluminum canoe, and essentially gave up on fishing and enjoyed the boat ride. On this trip I used a kick boat and I was able to fish the whole time while my finned feet managed the boat. A nother good approach would be for two people to crew a canoe with one person fishing while the other paddles.
With two exceptions, there is no dangerous white water on this section of the river, and we portaged these two places. The first of these spots could be run by the adventurous, though nobody on our trip tried it. The second is a dam, Cumming’s Dam, which we portaged by lowering our boats with ropes down the 20 foot face of the dam then walking on a narrow foot trail around to the downstream side. There were numerous places where trees had fallen and partially blocked the river. I believe that the people who profit from kayakers and tubers periodically go through and make sure the river isn’t blocked, but I imagine there is always the chance that a person could encounter a difficult situation on any given day. We saw only a few tubers, but the pretty heavy traffic of canoes and kayaks sometimes interfered with fishing.
I caught a lot of sunfish; I wasn’t counting, but I am sure there were more than 20. None of the sunfish were large – there were several in the 8 inch range, and there were quite a few 4 to 6 inchers. I caught only one bass - a 10 incher. The highlight of the day was a 10 inch Rio Grande perch with its beautiful color and pronounced bull nosed forehead.