Location: Canyon Lake is an 8,500 acre reservoir located on the Guadalupe River near New Braunfels, TX. The reservoir is deep, the water is clear, and the shorelines are primarly rocky and steep.
Game fish: Canyon Lake is home to a variety of gamefish including largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, Guadalupe bass, striped bass, white bass, common carp, catfish, and longnose gar.
Forage species: Canyon Lake’s forage base consists primarily of threadfin shad, gizzard shad, sunfish, spottail shiners, crawfish, and burrowing mayflies.
Fly Tackle: There are two basic fly fishing rigs I use on Canyon Lake. The first is an 8wt. rod outfitted with a fast sinking line and a short (5 ft) 17 lb test flourocarbon leader. This rig gets flies deep and it is a good choice for casting to stripers, largemouth, smallmouth, white bass, and longnose gar. The second rig I use is a 6 wt. outfit rigged with a floating line and a long (9ft) 10lb test leader. I use this rig for sightcasting carp & for casting to schooling fish like white bass, largemouth bass, and small stripers.
Flies: For large species like stripers, largemouth, smallmouth bass, I throw a fly I call a Chrome Minnow. A Chrome Minnow is a Clouser-style fly tied on a 60-degree jig hook with a silver Krystal Flash body and a back made from a touch of grey synthetic fiber (learn how to tie it HERE). A Chrome Minnow is THE fly for Canyon Lake. Ocassionally chartreuse or pearl works well, but chrome is a sure bet.
For carp, I throw a small nymph pattern I call the Canyon Carp Fly. I have found no other pattern that Canyon carp will eat as readily.
For longnose gar, I use large streamer patterns tied on circle hooks. Circle hooks are effective at snagging the gar’s slender snout. Fish the fly with a slow steady retrieve and use firm tension to set the hook. Use gloves to handle the fish. they have sharp teeth and scales.
There are generally good concentrations of longnose gar near the hump directly west of Crane’s Mill Point on the extreme upper end of the lake.
Strategy: Canyon Lake is clear and clean and has a limited capacity to produce plankton and forage fish. Because the biomass of forage is relatively small, finding concentrations of forage species (like threadfin shad) is a key component to catching fish. Two sayings are true here: 1) “90% of the fish are in 10% of the lake,” and 2) “Find bait and you’ll find fish.” The best way to find bait is to spot them jumping on the surface, or chart them on an electronic graph/fish finder.
Seasonal Cycles: In the spring, concentrate on the upper end of the lake (up-lake from Tom Creek area) and on creek channels, shallow points, and flats. Look for stripers schooling early and late on clear days and throughout the day on cloudy days when the water is 68–78 F.
In the summer, fish deep. Concentrate on steep shelves, shaded areas, and creek edges. Fish early and late, avoiding the weekend boat-show. Longnose gar will be concentrated directly West of the tip of Crane’s Mill Pt. and will stay there through early fall. At daylight and dusk, carp will tail in the back of Jacob’s Creek, Tom Creek, Comal Creek, and on the North shore flats between Potter’s Creek and Canyon Marina (Pappa Dock’s).
In the Fall as the water temperature begins to drop, look for schooling action at the surface on the lower end of the lake between Jacob’s Creek Pt. and the dam. Generally, the open-water hump directly in front of the dam is riddled with some sort of schooling activity at daylight and dusk.
Striped bass will feed heavily at the surface on cloudy days in the Fall from the last week of Sept. until the middle of December. In Winter, look for fish in creek channels and coves. Deep holes and shelves in the Comal Creek and Jacob’s Creek area often hold fish, especially big stripers, from January through early March. Fish slow and steady.