Guadalupe River Chapter of Trout Unlimited
Trout Unlimited is a non-profit, conservation organization whose mission is to conserve, protect, and restore North America’s trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds for the benefit of future generations.
The Guadalupe River, located in Central Texas near New Braunfels between Austin and San Antonio is the southernmost freshwater trout fishery in the United States. With over 5,000 members throughout Texas, the Guadalupe River Chapter is the largest local chapter of TU.
Canyon Lake was created by the Army Corps of Engineers to control the seasonal flooding that occurs on the Guadalupe River. It was impounded in 1964, creating a lake covering 8,240 surface acres and 125 feet deep at the pool level of 909 feet above mean sea level.
Rainbow trout were originally stocked in the river by Lone Star brewery, creating the southernmost trout fishery in the United States. During the Mid 60’s Biologist Dick White aided by local anglers, conducted tag and release studies along the river. In the late 1960’s Bill Parvin contacted Dr Howard Tanner, a Biologist from Colorado, to determine if the Guadalupe River was suitable for Brown trout. Several years later, Brown Trout fingerlings were stocked in the river.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) determined that the cold water discharges from the dam would displace the native warm water species naturally occurring in the river. Being the stewards of the public resources, they worked to develop a plan for the introduction of cold water species to utilize this new habitat.
About the same time, a small group of Texans, who enjoyed trout fishing, came together; Bill Parvin, Dick Finta, James Keeton, Bob Newman, Chad Oliver, Bill Pabst, Glenn Richardson, Lt. Col Paul and Hazel Schubauer, Jim Vynalek, and Bill West, who later founded the Guadalupe Chapter of Trout Unlimited (GRTU).
TPWD began experimenting with different species of trout to determine which would be the most suitable and cost effective for their stocking program. They tried Rainbow, Brown, and Cutthroat trout. Deciding that Rainbow trout best suited their purposes, they further tried different subspecies to find the best for stocking in the Guadalupe River.
During the early years, not many anglers were aware of what was taking place on the Guadalupe below Canyon Dam. GRTU grew slowly, and the chapter was relatively small. TPWD began stocking Rainbows in other sites across the state of Texas, and more and more anglers became interested in fishing for Rainbows. As interest grew, so did their program in response, creating more interest and more stockings.
At first, TPWD believed that the fishery it was creating with the stocking of trout would be a ” Put and Take” fishery with little chance of the trout surviving the brutally hot Texas summers. But as they continued their surveys of the emerging trout fishery on the Guadalupe, they determined that if certain flows were maintained, trout could survive to the following year.
As the GRTU membership grew, so did our ability to enhance our river’s potential. The Chapter established it’s stocking program, with the blessing of TPWD and this program continues today.
Unfortunately the cycles of flood and drought in Texas limited the potential of the Trout fishery below Canyon Dam. Although the Guadalupe and Blanco River Authority (GBRA) had agreed in principle to sustained flows out of Canyon Lake, the flows guaranteed were too small to sustain the Trout during the critical summer months. The outflows from the dam were as little as 25cfs.
GRTU decided to take some action. With donations from chapter members, we established a legal defense fund and retained legal counsel. We filed with the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Committee to force GBRA to release sustained summer flows that would insure the survival of the Trout through the heat of the summer. We were granted Petitioner status and after several years of negotiations, we arrived at an agreement with GBRA for trout protective flows that will sustain the trout fishery in over 10 miles of river.
Now more than ever, the future looks bright for the Trout of the Guadalupe River. These flows also have the additional benefit that all popular traditional river activities are also enhanced by these increased summertime flows which help the local economy.
In addition to our trout stockings and conservation programs on the Guadalupe, The GRTU also supports many local community projects like; Friends of the River annual river clean up, Project Kidfish; to introduce children to flyfishing, and Trout in the Classroom.
The Guadalupe River Chapter of Trout Unlimited invites you to join our Chapter. We have General Meetings 3 times a year and look forward to meeting you at these. Information on these meetings is available at https://grtu.org/chapter-meeting/. At our meetings, we discuss our plans for the future of the Guadalupe River with the membership. We invite authors, experts, and guides to speak at our meetings about conservation, fishing techniques and destinations around the world. So come to one of general meetings and see for yourself what our chapter is all about.