American Fly Fishing

Fun for All
By S. Seth Davis

Frio River, TX

Deep pools flowing along limestone shelves are great places to search for both panfish and bass. They are also some of the Frio’s most picturesque places. ALL PHOTOS BY S. SETH DAVIS

Sitting on the deck of the riverside cabin, I watched the sun peek over the ridge. Beams of light filtered through the early-morning mist hanging just above the ancient cypress trees along the riverbanks. Daybreak is always magical, but extra special here along the Frio River in Texas. It’s like the calm before the storm, especially during the busy summer tourist season.

As the fog began to clear, I gathered my gear and made my way down to the river, where I rigged a 5-weight rod with a Clouser Minnow. Bass were the morning’s target, and during the summer they are best sought early in the morning, before the flotilla of recreational tubers overwhelms most popular stretches of the Frio. Start just after dawn and you will likely enjoy a good three hours of unfettered fishing.

Sending a fly into the submerged roots of a large cypress usually produces results. Today was no exception; as the flashy pattern sank toward the bottom, I reveled in the unmistakable tap at the end of the line. I set the hook, and a small bass leaped from the water just a few feet in front of me. It was a representative fish of nearly 2 pounds. Although the Frio holds bass heavier than 3 pounds, they are rare, especially in the highly trafficked reaches of the river. Nevertheless, there are usually plenty of 1- to 2-pound fish to keep you busy.

The word frio means “cold” in Spanish, but applied to this river, it’s something of a misnomer. Throughout most of the summer, the water feels more like a swimming pool. Couple this with extreme water clarity and substantial shallows, and it’s no wonder people enjoy floating the Frio by inner tube. Yet despite its widespread renown as a vacation destination, this scenic river offers surprisingly good fly-fishing action.