A Guadalupe bass with broad shoulders “appears to qualify as a new state record and world record in several categories,” according to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD).
While floating the Colorado River below Austin on Feb. 1, Bryan Townsend caught the 3.71-pound fish on a crawfish-pattern fly and a 7-weight fly rod. That should supplant the 3.69 caught in 1983 at Lake Travis.
Generally, 2 pounds is considered large for a Guadalupe, a river species unique to the clear, fast-flowing rivers of central Texas. Townsend’s fish, though, was a chunk, with a girth almost equal to its length (17.25 inches), but DNA testing confirmed that it was a pure Guadalupe.
Because that section of the river has yielded quite a few large Guadalupe-like fish in recent years, TPWD’s Marcos DeJesus decided to do a little research.
“So far as we can conclude, they seem to be pure Guadalupes,” he said.
“The Colorado River below Austin, from Longhorn Dam to La Grange, has been a special bass fishery for many years,” DeJesus continued. “Productive waters and excellent habitat have helped support a healthy black bass population composed of largemouth bass and Guadalupe bass.
“Recently, with reduced pulses due to drought, aquatic vegetation exploded all over this river segment. Flood events in October flushed a lot of it downstream, making it easier to fish.”
Townsend caught the big Guadalupe while fishing with guide Shea McClanahan, who immediately recognized its world-record potential. He phoned a friend who helped coordinate a meeting on the river with DeJesus, who brought an ice chest and an aerator.
“Our clients are 99.9 percent catch-and-release,” McClanahan said. “I don’t even have a stringer. We don’t kill fish.”
The biologist measured and weighed the fish, as well as took photos and a fin clip for genetic testing. They then took the bass to Cabela’s in Buda, the closest place with a certified scale.
Afterward, Townsend donated the fish to TPWD for live display at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center, where it can be seen in the theater’s dive tank.
“It was just an awesome day on the water, and getting the record was a true group effort,” Townsend said. “Guadalupe bass are such an incredible fish, and I’ve just fallen in love with that river. It’s all worked out wonderfully.”
According to TPWD, the angler will submit applications based on the fish’s weight for water body, state, and world records. He also will apply for records based on length and tackle used for state catch-and-release, fly-fishing; and world record catch-and-release, fly-fishing.
Designated the official state fish of Texas in 1989, the Guadalupe is found only in the Lone Star State, with its range including the San Antonio River, the Guadalupe River above Gonzales, the Colorado, and portions of the Brazos River drainage. Generally green in color, it doesn’t have the vertical bars typical to smallmouth bass and its jaw doesn’t extend beyond the eyes, as in largemouths. Also, its color reaches much lower on its body than in spotted bass.
(This article appeared originally in B.A.S.S. Times.)