5 Dollar Lake

5 Dollar Lake

Andy Dear | Monday, 12 September 2022

Early yesterday morning my family and I made the 40-minute drive over to an adjacent town called Bandera. Bandera is the self proclaimed "Cowboy Capitol of the World", and is one of the few places where you can still see men and women donning traditional western wear and riding horses down main street on any given day. This morning, however, we were there not for fishing, or horseback riding for that matter, but to watch my son Jackson represent his high school in a cross-country race.

  The town of Bandera is a special place for Emily and I because we lived there for almost 8 years. Bandera is where we purchased our first house as a married couple in 2005, and it was in that same house where Jackson was born and raised until he was a little over five years old. That little house was a great place for us to start a family. It was far enough out to be considered "rural", and sat just 1/2 mile from the English Crossing stretch of the Medina River. It was also at this residence where I entered into the world of rodbuilding on a full-time basis. Being self employed full time doing something I loved was a tremendous experience, but man I am not sure I'd EVER want to do it again.

  After Jack finished his race, we headed back down an isolated farm-to-market road that would take us back to our current residence. Just north of this road is a semi-private lake that I learned about from a co-worker at a home improvement store where I worked for a short time in 2005. Trent, who happened to also be my boss, and I became fast friends when we discovered we had a mutual love for fishing. He often referred to a lake they used to fish called 5 dollar lake. I finally asked him one day where this lake was. He laughed and said "well it's over on highway 173, and technically it's called LH7 Guest Ranch, but we call it five dollar lake because admission is five dollars and works on the honor system. You leave five dollars in the mailbox on the way in and you're good to fish for the whole day.

  After a few sketchy directions from Trent, I managed to locate five dollar lake, and yes there was the mailbox as he described. This was a fantastic place, that although it did offer public access, very few if any people fished it other than a few locals, and it was FULL of hungry largemouth bass. There was in fact a submerged brush pile in the back of the lake that kicked out fish more regularly on a first presentation than a slot machine in Las Vegas. Everytime I took a client over there, they would get bit on the first cast, just like clockwork. It was incredible how predictable it was.

I spent a ton of time at 5 dollar lake between 2005 and 2009 while I was self employed. If there was time after packing and shipping orders, I'd load up my Coleman canoe and head over there after dropping off my parcels at the shipping store, which just happened to be right on the way to 5 dollar lake....how convenient right?

  Five dollar lake was also one of the very first places I took Jackson fishing when he was about 4 years old. As the story goes, one Saturday afternoon, we decided we were going to see if there were any big panfish in five dollar lake, so we loaded up the 14 foot flatbottom and proceeded to purchase a container of live earthworms from the local convenience store. Jackson and I still laugh about this because these earthworms were so huge they were like baby snakes! He remebers this so well that whenever we are in Bandera for a competitive sporting event, he points out that particular store as the place where we got the "giant worms".

Unfortunately, five dollar lake is now under private ownership with no access available to the general public. If it weren't, I would have been inclined to take a quick detour and drop five dollars in that rusty old mailbox just for a quick trip down memory lane. Seems like more and more of my old inland fishing holes are becoming not much more than a distant memory. There's a part of me that doesn't want to accept that this is the natural evolution of how things work in this world and that the only thing constant is change. I will be the first to admit to all of you.....I do not do well with change.

Picture above taken at 5 Dollar Lake June 5th 2011. Jackson holding the box of "giant worms"

Hope you're all having a great week,