For me, finding unique rivers to fly fish is something I love doing. Whether they have a special fish or are in an unexpected area, I’ll make every effort I can to experience them. One of those bodies of water is the Guadalupe River in Texas.
The Guadalupe River is the southernmost trout stream in the United States. It’s special in a variety of ways. It’s both a warm water river and a tailwater, so year-round fishing is possible! Fly fishing the Guadalupe River is something every diehard fly angler should experience.
Now, the Guadalupe River is over 200 miles long with plenty of good areas to fish, but here are four of my favorites. Be sure to put these at the top of your list.
1. Kerr Wildlife Management Area
If you’re hoping to fish above the Canyon Lake Dam, then make sure to visit the Kerr Wildlife Management area. This is going to be more of a warm water fishery, so you’ll have your chance at bass, sunfish and perch.
Across from the wildlife management check-in area you’ll find parking and great access to the river. You’ll be able to wade for several hundred yards up and downstream without finding water that’s overly deep.
Fish streamers and poppers throughout this section of water! Smaller baitfish streamers like a Woolly Bugger would work great. You can even throw a dragonfly pattern on and catch plenty of fish.
Most water on the North Guadalupe is private, so this access point is about as good as you’re going to get. Stay alert if you’re traveling too far up or down river. You’ll notice no trespassing signs and be sure to follow what they say! Texas landowners are particular with who can access their land.
Guide Tip: The Guadalupe River is the perfect place to “UP” your euro nymphing game. Learn some tips and tactics in this article -> Euro Nymphing Flies Explained
2. Guadalupe River State Park
Another warm water option for anglers above the dam is Guadalupe River State Park. The state park provides anglers with about four miles of accessible water. You can wade, bank fish or even float this water depending on your preference. It’s one of the longest, uninterrupted portions of the Guadalupe River.
Fish your fair share baitfish streamers through the state park and you’ll have a great chance at some bass.
At times, it’s nice to fish a few miles of water without having to worry about private land ownership. Fly fishing in Guadalupe River State Park provides you with this opportunity. Plus, you’re able to camp, hike and experience the outdoors all while you’re making your visit.
3. River Trail Guadalupe River Park
The River Trail in Guadalupe River Park is right below the dam. The water pouring out of the dam is going to be the coldest. The Texas Fish and Wildlife Department stocks this water every single year. You’re able to find rainbow trout upwards of double digits in these waters! There are beautiful fish here and the river trail gives you great access to these chilly waters. Floating or wade fishing is entirely up to you!
Pheasant Tail Nymphs, Woolly Buggers, Micro Eggs and San Juan worms are great flies to use throughout this section.
Guide Tip: I keep telling folks to put together the right gear to stay comfortable. Let me point you to what I wear under my waders in this article – What to Wear Under Waders (Comfort For All Conditions)
4. Huaco Hot Springs
Huaco Hot Springs is another access point below Canyon Lake. A few miles further down from the river trail, you’ll find the campground and access to Huaco Hot Springs.
If you’re hoping to camp and fish, then this is a great place for you. You can fish along the shore or float through this portion of the tailwater!
This portion of the river has quite a few riffles, so fish Pheasant Tails, Caddis nymphs and small Buggers.
Why the Guadalupe River is Perfect for Fly Fishing
Not only does the state regularly stock the Guadalupe River, but it also works extremely hard to keep the fish population healthy. Throughout the winter months, the tailwater will stay well-below 70 degrees, so you can target trout without having to worry about doing too much harm.
Plus, you have the choice to fish a warm watery river or a cold-water river depending on your preference. Drive around the lake and you have your choice. Finding a productive tailwater is not easy to do in the Southern United States, but the Guadalupe River absolutely accomplishes that.
The quality fishing is exciting, but so is the beautiful Texas Hill Country Landscape. This wild area has dozens of campgrounds and family friendly activities as well. There’s no boredom to be had on the Guadalupe.
What Kind of Fish Can You Catch on the Guadalupe River?
The fish populations in the Guadalupe River can be broken up into two categories: warm water fish and cold-water fish.
The warm water fish you can find are Guadalupe Bass, Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Sunfish and Rio Grande Perch. There are healthy populations of all of these fish that are naturally reproductive. You’ll find these in great numbers above Canyon Lake.
The cold-water fish you can find are brown trout as well as rainbow trout. The Texas Game and Fish Department stocks these fish throughout the Guadalupe River from November to March. This is also the most productive time to fish the tailwater portion of the Guadalupe.
Favorite Flies for the Guadalupe River
If you’re a tailwater angler, you know how productive mayflies are. Mayflies will catch plenty of fish on the Guadalupe River. However, you can fish all levels of the water column to be successful!
- Woolly Bugger, Size 6- If possible, fish black Woolly Buggers in the Guadalupe. You’ll find that they work in both the warm and cold-water portions of the river.
- San Juan Worm– The San Juan Worm is an extremely productive fly on the Guadalupe. Fish it with some split shot or naked through the riffles and see what happens.
- Zebra Midge, Size 18- Zebra midges are extremely productive in the Guadalupe. Remember, midge patterns are going to catch you fish in tailwaters!
Ventures Fly Co. 40 Fly Assortment Has a Great Selection of Flies
This assortment has most of the flies needed lay the foundation for an effective fly box. the most common dries, nymphs and streamers. Check out the on water video review on YouTube – HERE
Hatch Chart for the Guadalupe River
Catching the Hatch is key to drifting flies on the Guadalupe River. In some sections the fish get quite a bit of pressure and so be prepared to fish “fine and far”. Use long leaders – 9 foot and longer in size 5X to 6X. Make sure to mend for a drag free drift. Learn about drag free drifts in this article. Mending for a Drag Free Drift
|Fly Name||Size||Start Date||End Date|
|Blue Winged Olive||20||January 1||May 15|
|Trico||22||February 1||November 1|
|Hexagenia||12||February 15||October 15|
|Slate Drake||14||February 15||October 15|
|Caddis||16||February 15||October 15|
|Midge||20||January 1||December 31|
|Terrestrials||12||May 1||November 31|
|San Juan Worm||12||January 1||December 31|
|Midge||20||January 1||December 31|
|Scud||14||January 1||December 31|
|Light Cahill||14||April 1||October 31|
|Streamer Patterns||6||January 1||December 31|
Fly Rod and Reel Setup for the Guadalupe River
When you’re fishing the Guadalupe, you’re not going to be dealing with small fish. The average size trout is 12-18 inches, but can easily grow to be larger than that!
Bring your 5 or 6-weight, 9-foot moderate fast or fast action rod with floating line and 3x leader. Attach some 4x tippet to that if you’re fishing dry flies and nymphs. If you’re fishing only streamers use 9 foot tapered size 0 or 1x is perfect.
Guides and Fly Shops
- Reel Fly Fishing Adventures is a one-stop shop for everything fly fishing on the Guadalupe. You can purchase gear and even hire a guide! Give them a visit.
- Action Angler Fly Shop and Guide Service is another outfitter you should use. They’re reputable and will put you on fish.
The Guadalupe River is special for so many reasons. Most anglers think bass fishing when they think of Texas. Bass are amazing to target on the fly rod, but if you want a chance to land your beloved trout as well, then you need to fly fish the Guadalupe River. If you need more Texas fly fishing recommendations, be sure to read our article on best places to fly fish in Texas!
Are you looking for some great How To Fly Fish Articles? Checkout this list:
- How to Fly Fish for Bluegills – These amazing fish are all over the USA. I like to call them the “Gateway Drug to Fly Fishing”
- How to Fly Fish for Brook Trout – Find the cleanest, coldest, most beautiful streams and I’ll bet Brookes are present.
- How to Nymph Fish – Step by Step details for setting up, presenting and catching trout with nymphs.
- How to Fly Fish for Salmon – Image hooking into a +25 pound King Salmon in a river and your Fly Rod breaks! Seriously this happened to me on my first trip.
Danny Mooers is a high school English teacher in Arizona with a love for fly fishing. Growing up in Minnesota gave him the opportunity to experience all types of fishing and grow his skills. After living out in the Western United States for several summers in college, his fly fishing obsession grew. Having the opportunity to share in his passion for fishing through writing is a dream come true. It’s a lifelong hobby and he strives to make it understandable for people of all skill levels