Southwest Fly Fishing

By S. Seth Davis

Still early in the day, the sun halfway to its apex, I watch as my partner releases another nice largemouth bass. Only minutes pass when I feel the sudden weight at the end of my line as I strip-retrieve a streamer. Instinctively, I raise the rod tip—add one more bass to our total. Although most of the fish weigh between 1 and 3 pounds, we know the next cast could earn a double-digit-weight leviathan.
   Lake Amistad’s hallmark is bass fishing. Hit it right and you can revel in spectacular action for both size and numbers of fish.
   The crystal-clear water of Lake Amistad seems like an oxymoron in comparison to the barren desert landscape that surrounds it, but the waters teem with life. Largemouth, smallmouth, striped, white bass, and other species inhabit this
large reservoir.
   Locals will tell you the key to finding bass is to find the “grass.” Fish often orient on large Hydrilla beds within the lake. Once you locate these beds, fish medium-size baitfish and leech patterns just over the tops of the grass. Early morning and evening can also provide some dramatic top-water strikes, so pack some deer hair divers and foam poppers. White/silver and green/yellow are good color combinations.
   Smallmouth bass can be caught sporadically anywhere on the lake but if you are trying to target this species, the farther you move up the Devil’s River arm, the better your chances become. Try fishing a heavily weighted crawfish pattern or a conehead Woolly Bugger in green or orange. Big black Bunny Leeches will also elicit strikes. Hunt out rocky structure and use a sinking-tip line.
   Largemouth and smallmouth bass take center stage for most Amistad anglers, but striped bass and white bass can provide fast and furious action, especially when they are schooling and thrashing pockets of shad on the surface. 
   At just under 65,000 acres, Amistad is huge. With more shoreline than the Texas gulf coast, the reservoir always offers plenty of room. But big water means big waves and this reservoir is known for high winds. Be cautious in any boat, but especially if you are in a kayak or small craft. On windy days, avoid the main body of the lake and instead fish the
sheltered bays.
   Located on the Rio Grande River, Amistad is part of the International Boundary Waters. Pay close attention to the mile marker buoys as they delineate the border between the United States and Mexico. Your fishing plans will determine what license(s) you need. If you only fish in U.S. waters, then you will need a Texas license, but if you fish south of the border, you need a Mexican fishing license. Both can be purchased in Del Rio, Texas, at Amistad Marine or
Fisherman’s Headquarters.
   The border town of Del Rio, Texas, and its sister city of Acuña, Mexico, are the hubs for this region and have ample options for food and lodging. Local Tex-Mex cuisine is nothing short of outstanding, so make time to take in the local fare.

 

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