Weekend Angler: Austin

Colorado River Tailraces
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Below Lake Buchanan begins the series of dams on the Colorado, each featuring a unique raceway fishery with everything from smallmouth bass to stripers to native Guadalupe bass and bluegill. The dams in downstream order from Lake Buchanan are Buchanan Dam, Inks Lake Dam, Wirtz Dam, Marx Starke Dam, Mansfield Dam, Tom Miller Dam, and Longhorn Dam.

Fishing these seven tailwaters requires hard work and patience. Anglers must contend with banks blanketed with oak and cypress trees that will snatch flies and lures. Wading is generally unadvisable due to unpredictable dam releases and strong currents (although more manageable wadeable conditions may exist in late fall and winter). Plan on fishing from either canoe or kayak. Even still, some areas have motor restrictions — watch out for the weekend boating crowds.

Mansfield, Tom Miller, and Longhorn Dams are the most popular and crowded, since they are scattered throughout the city of Austin. Anglers can tie into black bass, smallmouth bass, native Rio Grande perch, and native Guadalupe bass, plus a variety of other species. The abundance of aquatic insects often causes perch, bluegill, and smallmouth to feed on caddisflies, damsels, dragonflies, or even the huge #8 Hexagenia mayfly. The bigger bass tend to feed upon forage fish including minnows, shad, and crayfish; anglers should be sufficiently supplied with Clousers, Decievers, and crayfish patterns.

When fishing below these dams keep in mind that the releases are controlled by the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA). Flows may fluctuate drastically from one day to another; for up-to-the-minute flows, release schedules, and specific access points contact the LCRA (512-473-3333).


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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