I just recently had the opportunity to fish and paddle the Devils River, a somewhat secret oasis in my home state of Texas. If you haven't had the chance to read this article yet, I suggest that you do. You can find this article here.
For quite some time now I have been trying to catch a fish called the Rio Grande Cichlid. This fish is quite small, as the state record weight is 2.02 lbs. However, they are quite a feisty and aggressive fish, which makes them a blast to catch...at least that is what I hear. They are very interesting looking fish, as they resemble a Guinea Hen, from which their name is originated. Although the Rio Grande Cichlid is small, it has quite a relative in the Peacock Bass of South America. That's right, this small fish is related to one of the greatest freshwater fish of all time. Fortunately, you do not have to go to Brazil to catch them though.
The San Marcos River is the best contender for the highest population of these strange looking fish, but no one is truly certain where the greatest population lays. Before I went to the Devils River, I knew there was the possibility that I could find some Rio Grande Cichlid (also known as Rio Grande Perch), but I didn't really pay much attention to this though, as I was more focused on going to one of the most remote and dangerous areas of wildlife in Texas. However, this quickly changed as my eyes caught a glimpse of an unknown fish when I was fishing on the Devils River.
While fishing for bass in an area that I like to call the Blue Lagoon on the Devils River, I suddenly saw a flash from a fish that I couldn't quite recognize. I followed the fish with my eyes, but couldn't quite make out what it was. Suddenly, I saw several more and realized I was in the middle of several Rio Grande Perch. This caused quite a commotion between me and my dad who was with me in our Jackson Kayak Big Tuna. We both switched from heavy topwater bass lures to little panfish lures no bigger than 1/16 oz. We casted towards the Rio Grande Perch which were quite easy to see because of the crystal clear water, but this clear water also allowed the fish to see us. This was a problem, as the fish would see our kayak and our rods when we casted causing the fish to become spooked.
We made several casts to multiple Rio Grande Perch without much luck, but soon enough, my dad hooked into one with a Worden's Rooster Tail on a 5' 6" light action spinning rod setup. The little rascal put quite a bend in the light rod, which at the moment seemed like my dad was reeling in a five pound bass, but in many ways it was much better. My dad brought the fish to the boat and landed it in our Big Tuna. We were so excited about catching a fish that we had been targeting for quite some time now. It was not the biggest of all fish, as it was only 1/2 lb. to 3/4 lb., but it was plenty for us.
It was truly amazing to catch a new species at such an amazing place. The coloration of the Rio Grande Perch is so strange that I can't decide if it is beautiful or just so unordinary that it catches my eye. Although we only hooked into this one Rio Grande Perch, it was quite a reward. I most definitely will be specifically targeting this unusual fish for the next time I go to the Devils River, but until then it looks like I will be going after some Largemouth Bass and the state fish of Texas, the Guadalupe Bass.