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Old 03-18-2020, 10:00 AM   #1
BlackHogDown
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Default Hunting San Marcos River

Not that kind of hunting...

Had a cool experience participating in the Atlas Environmental Spring Polespear tournament. The semiannual tournament targets Plecostomus (suckermouth cats) and tilapia as well as several snail species in the San Marcos River. Every tournament ends with an awards ceremony complete with live music and free fish tacos!

No it’s not legal to spear here. Yes we had TPWD permission. A total of 240 pounds of invasive biomass removed this go-around. Over one ton total to-date. That’s a lot, considering the majority of the fish are in the 4-12 oz range and we’re working a 1.5mi stretch of river through campus.

https://www.atlasenvironmentaltx.com/tournaments

You think hardheads are mean? You should meet their cousins. Armored scales, sharp spines, and sandpaper skin. They eat algae from my understanding. No predators. No competition for resources. It’s no wonder this invasive thrives just about everywhere on earth.



In my 1900-2359 time slot, I managed to bag 7 “plecos” as well as a few cichlids (oops). In my defense, I don’t hunt freshwater often and thought they were baby tilapia *face palm*

Turns out fish react to a flashlight similar to deer on the road. In the calm pools, I could swim up to a “sleeping” fish and gently cradle it in my palm before it would swim off lazily. I remember thinking “I wish all these freshwater anglers could see this.” Bluegill, redbreasts, bass, etc would swim inches from my mask, investigating.

I learned that bass are pretty territorial. They make dens in the grass and if you approach, they will defend. I got a little too close to a 5+ pounder. She rushed me before I even realized what was happening. I flinched and instinctively turned my head to protect my face. (Remember I’m laying at the bottom of 10’ river, crawling through a forest of grass, in RIPPING current, at 10PM, nearing the end of my breath hold. In other words, in her world. Not mine). When I turned, I felt a pretty good jab on my polespear. She was coming at me with some force! When the dust settled, she was gone.

Despite the “deer in the headlights” effect on non targeted species, the hunt was tough. The plecos prefer rocky areas to suck algae off of. I’d find them on the rock/grass boundary or under a rock in the heaviest current. Notice my toes peeking out of my booties in the stringer pic. Tore them trying to anchor myself to the bottom.

A single fish often took 10+ dives to retrieve from under a large rock. 1) spot the eye shine. 2) Find a way to get a rigid spear up/around rocks to stick your target Even if it takes several dives to move some rocks to clear a “shooting lane”. 3) gently retrieve your spear up/around the same obstructions (in reverse) while not allowing the fish to fall off. All this while holding my breath and laying on my belly on top of the rock, peering underneath like a child checking under the bed for monsters.

Even if the fish was spotted simply laying on the bottom, the forest of grass made it tough to get a shot off. Even if my speartip was free, the grass would grab onto my band, preventing it from releasing fully. The stuff was strong. In a ripping current, I could grab hold of a few strands to anchor myself. (Killed my breath hold, though).

Not much “real” diving but it was a cool way to stick some fish before the warmth of fishing season. Also, I managed to gain permission to do some more cleanup in nearby lakes. I hear these plecos get up to 5lb in Landa and that one could expect to take a cooler full of tilapia home any day. May make a trip before next months trip to SPI to chase some snapper and AJ.

Sorry for the long-winded write up.









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Old 03-18-2020, 10:09 AM   #2
flywise
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Sweet
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Old 03-18-2020, 10:22 AM   #3
rtjh
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Very cool
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Old 03-18-2020, 10:29 AM   #4
diamond10x
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That’s awesome, good job in helping out a cause. I’ve spearfished with Atlas Environmental, Nick is dang good at what he does. The comal river and Dunlap lake is another good place to shoot and spear them pesky things.
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Old 03-18-2020, 10:31 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by diamond10x View Post
That’s awesome, good job in helping out a cause. I’ve spearfished with Atlas Environmental, Nick is dang good at what he does. The comal river and Dunlap lake is another good place to shoot and spear them pesky things.
The comal grows these Plecos huge too. Largest was 5x the size of the 1 pounder here. I need to check into Dunlap. Shoot me a PM if you ever want to make a day trip.
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Old 03-18-2020, 12:09 PM   #6
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Well done on the Plecos. How do they taste? I bet those sunguns can dull a fillet knife right qiuck!
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Old 03-18-2020, 12:18 PM   #7
BlackHogDown
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Originally Posted by Montec man View Post
Well done on the Plecos. How do they taste? I bet those sunguns can dull a fillet knife right qiuck!
All these were promptly weighed, bagged, and frozen for compost. The tilapia provided the fish tacos. These <1lb plecos don't have much meat on them anyway. But hey... if someone else cleaned one, I'd give it a shot.
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Old 03-18-2020, 12:28 PM   #8
txheartshot
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Quote:
Originally Posted by diamond10x View Post
That’s awesome, good job in helping out a cause. I’ve spearfished with Atlas Environmental, Nick is dang good at what he does. The comal river and Dunlap lake is another good place to shoot and spear them pesky things.


Pretty cool!


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Old 03-18-2020, 12:37 PM   #9
rjtkdplus
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Good job! I’ve caught a couple, way downstream, snagged them with crank baits. I tossed them far out on the bank for the critters to eat.
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Old 03-18-2020, 12:38 PM   #10
RShockley
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That looks like a ton of fun. Might have to give this a try.
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Old 03-18-2020, 12:49 PM   #11
UncleBubba
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Different but cool!
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Old 03-18-2020, 01:06 PM   #12
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San Antonio River has them too, you can see a lot of them on the newer section of the river walk
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Old 03-18-2020, 01:18 PM   #13
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Looks like fun!!! Great Work!!
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Old 03-18-2020, 01:49 PM   #14
toomuchsun
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Learn something new everyday (and forget it the next day too often) . Interesting
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Old 03-18-2020, 01:53 PM   #15
3DW5
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Man this is really cool, I have seen similar to these but black, can they be black?
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Old 03-18-2020, 02:01 PM   #16
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One from Dunlap before the dam failure


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Old 03-18-2020, 02:48 PM   #17
BlackHogDown
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Default Hunting San Marcos River

Quote:
Originally Posted by 3DW5 View Post
Man this is really cool, I have seen similar to these but black, can they be black?

Yes sir. This particular plecostomus (assume it’s a subspecies of a more general suckermouth/sailfin based on their global distribution) ranges from yellow to greenish black. Based on my very limited experience.

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Old 03-18-2020, 02:52 PM   #18
BlackHogDown
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Originally Posted by rjtkdplus View Post
I tossed them far out on the bank for the critters to eat.

As you should for ALL invasives! I bet that was an unpleasant surprise at the end of a line. They certainly aren’t any fun to handle with all those spines and with the way they flex their entire body! Sure are some strong little fish. I guess from fighting the current all day?



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Old 03-18-2020, 03:25 PM   #19
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This is fascinating. Glad you took out some invasive species. Thanks for taking the time to do a write-up.
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Old 03-18-2020, 04:27 PM   #20
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neat post
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Old 03-18-2020, 04:34 PM   #21
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I got one in my aquarium now that's about 8", he's a pain to deal with when I clean the tank, their strong without current. When our last one got that big, he committed suicide. Jumped out of the tank and was strong enough to push the glass door open to get out. Found him dried up behind the tank a couple days after he did it.LOL

Oh yea, Good Job on getting Rid of those. I hear Decker Lake is full of some Big ones.
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Old 03-18-2020, 04:52 PM   #22
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I've had them in aquariums for years and it still gives me the heebie jeebies to touch them.
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Old 03-18-2020, 05:38 PM   #23
BlackHogDown
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Default Hunting San Marcos River

I should add that I made a very small dent in overall numbers, even in this short stretch of river. While I make it sound difficult, the guys with the earlier time slots were pulling out 25+ each.

It was a ton of fun. I’ll post up the next one for anybody interested in participating. A decent spear could be had for $40. I almost wish I would’ve bought a cheapo instead of beating up my carbon pole.

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Originally Posted by Tx-Burt View Post
Found him dried up behind the tank a couple days after he did it.

Lol should’ve given him some water. I saw a video of some dead, dried out fish. The guy easily snapped the main dorsal spine off as if it had been dry for weeks. Flipped it over and poured a bit of water in its mouth. It immediately snapped back to life. Theyre aliens, man.

Last edited by BlackHogDown; 03-18-2020 at 05:44 PM.
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Old 03-18-2020, 05:59 PM   #24
toomuchsun
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Might have a bad dream! Spines, aliens, blood on the tailgate, man you would think this was a hunting group or worse, swimmers with spears> Oh my close the fish borders
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Old 03-23-2020, 09:44 AM   #25
BlackHogDown
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Originally Posted by toomuchsun View Post
Might have a bad dream! Spines, aliens, blood on the tailgate, man you would think this was a hunting group or worse, swimmers with spears> Oh my close the fish borders
What? #PunctuationMatters

"Might have a bad dream. Spines, aliens, and blood on the tailgate! Man, you would think this was a hunting group. Or worse, swimmers with spears. Oh my! Close the fish borders!"

I think i translated that correctly. Are you complaining about the fishing write-up on a hunting site, hating on spearfishing, or downplaying the impact of the invasive fish?

1) Your avatar is a fish LDP. Tons of fishing reports throughout this site. This is in "Around the Campfire". IDK about yours, but we talk about lots of stuff other than hunting at my campfire. Also, 1 of every 100 new threads is actually about hunting this time of year. Even less with all the stuff going on now.

2) One category in the tournament was "Trash collection." Most collected trash items were fishing gear. In an area where it is illegal to fish... That is the case every time i go spearing. I end up spending most of my time untangling/removing abandoned fishing gear. Especially around the jetties. There's so much junk that entanglement is a very serious risk when 40' deep (relatively shallow) on a single breath of air. Lines/lures, weights, anchors, etc... How much trash do you collect every fishing trip?

3) "Or worse, swimmers with spears." Are you concerned with safety? I was the ONLY person in the world permitted to do any fishing/spearing in that stretch of river in that time slot. Even if there is another diver in the river for that slot, 30' spacing is the rule of thumb. (Polespear range is about length of pole. 5' this tourney) I practice the same 4 safety rules with my polespear and spearguns as you do with rifles. Just because you are ignorant to my spearing safety, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Sound like the gun grabbers on CNN!

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Old 03-23-2020, 11:43 AM   #26
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very cool
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Old 03-23-2020, 08:04 PM   #27
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That cool, they should allow people to spear those things year round, since they want invasive species removed. I have seen a lot of those in Comal and Guadalupe Rivers, in the New Braunfels area.
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Old 03-23-2020, 10:09 PM   #28
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Very cool, good work
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Old 03-23-2020, 10:19 PM   #29
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That looks like fun! KAP may have to have two meanings now.
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Old 03-23-2020, 10:22 PM   #30
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Niiiice!

Great job!
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Old 03-24-2020, 07:29 AM   #31
sharpshooter1
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That’s neato mosquito!!
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Old 03-27-2020, 05:27 PM   #32
Aggie_bowtech
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Saw a bunch of tilapia today. I threw a bunch of flies at them but they don’t seem to eat. Does anyone know if tilapia will eat a fly when they’re in shallow water on their beds?

I’ve tried this before with no luck but figured since they’re all bedded up they might attack something.


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Old 03-28-2020, 07:49 AM   #33
Jamesl
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aggie_bowtech View Post
Saw a bunch of tilapia today. I threw a bunch of flies at them but they don’t seem to eat. Does anyone know if tilapia will eat a fly when they’re in shallow water on their beds?

I’ve tried this before with no luck but figured since they’re all bedded up they might attack something.


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I have caught them on white beetle spins on a lake in S. Texas
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Old 03-28-2020, 07:50 AM   #34
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Cool stuff, thanks for sharing. BTW, video of this would be cool.
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