Trout Unlimited organizes Guadalupe River clean-up

by Kevin Force, Editor

More than 30 volunteers from all over Texas turned out to assist in collecting trash and debris from the river on Saturday as part of a clean-up effort coordinated by the Guadalupe River Chapter of Trout Unlimited (GRTU).

Trout Unlimited is a conservation organization dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring North America's trout and salmon fisheries. The Guadalupe River chapter boasts about 4,500 members.

"We are the primarily supplier of the large fish that go in this river," said Jeff Schmitt, the National Leadership Council representative.

Schmitt, an Austin native who maintains a trailer at Rio Raft because of his frequent visits to the area, has been active with Trout Unlimited for years. He is a former president of the local chapter and now passionately represents the local issues to the national organization.

"About 500 of us are extremely active," Schmitt said, noting that volunteers traveled from as far as Houston to assist with the river cleanup.

GRTU stocks the Guadalupe River with trout three to four times a year, and tries to coordinate a cleanup project prior to each stocking in order to give the fish optimum chances to survive.

After Canyon Dam was constructed, GRTU reminded its designers that part of the dam's charter mandated the maintenance of a trout fishery.

Because of that, GRTU was able to acquire the help of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in regulating the water flow below the dam year round to create conditions most conducive to the survival of large trout.

As a result, the Guadalupe has turned into as big a haven for fly fisherman as it has for tubers. Schmitt estimated that he makes no less than 25 trips a year to fish and conduct business on the behalf of the GRTU.

"There's the section of the river designated for trophy trout fisherman, from the bridge at 306 all the way to the second crossing," Schmitt said. "We lease land from the local outfitters and build quality fisheries."

Thanks to the fisheries, trout fishing in the Guadalupe is booming in both summer and winter, attracting thousands of visitors from around the state.

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