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Sitting at the intersection i couldn’t decide what to pursue. A right turn meant possible trout on the Guadalupe, but likely also numerous anglers since the weather was in the upper 60’s. A left turn meant Lake Bastrop and infinite elbow room but unsure fishing. To my surprise my foot and hands made the decision before my brain even had a chance to weigh in on the pros and cons. More room and less fish it obviously was going to be, logic be damned.
With all my cyclical confusion lately as to why i even try to fish when everything seems to keep me from doing so, it felt good to have my sub-conscious take over and call the shots.
Speeding along the highway desperate to reach the relative seclusion of Lake Bastrop i never the less slammed on the breaks when i saw two very distinct images (above and below) that brought joy and a smile to my jovial heart for different reasons (irony and visual design, guess which one is which?).
Dipping the paddle board into the lakes cool waters i immediately made for Scout Creek, an area of the lake that had captured my attention from afar, but one that i had yet to visit. Paddling into the creek / cove overfilled with drowned and dead trees presented a visual treat that no CGI footage could ever match. It was like paddling through a forest cemetery filled with giant bones weathered to their most absolute paleness and planted headfirst into the murky muddiness.
Despite hours of fishing i never managed to catch anything other than one of the most enjoyable naps i’ve ever had. Far up the creek i found a spot on the bank covered in brush and pine trees. The fallen needles had blanketed the shoreline where i snuck in under the low overhanging plant life, laid down on the needle mattress and carefully placed my straw fedora on my head to block the sunshine. After a few minutes of quiet stillness i was lucky enough to fall asleep to the sight and sound of a Pileated Woodpecker (a.k.a. log god) slowly winding its way around a rotten tree trunk just across the creek, listening patiently for prey before beating out its percussive measures via its incredible bill searching for food. Drifting off to the most peaceful hour of sleep i’ve had in a long time, i was eventually awakened by two hawks in the sky directly above me, obviously trying to settle some dispute as they latched on to each other over and over falling into the conifers before regaining their composure and flying back into the sky and starting the endless battle over and over again.
Paddling back after hours of (naps) and fishing it quickly became obvious that i was a month or so to soon. I was knee-deep in bass waters but the fish obviously had other plans that (much like humans) involved finding the warmest spot in the lake, donning a Hawaiian shirt and slowly sipping Margaritas while waiting out all of these random cold fronts.
In retrospect i probably would have been better off if my brain had seized control of the situation early on and sent me hunting for trout along the Guadalupe. Then again my brain seems to get me in a shit ton of trouble when it’s activated too much, so it’s likely that sleeping on the needles under the pine trees, woodpeckers, and hawks was the best thing i could have done that day.
Maybe you’ve noticed that the posts have been few and infrequent, or maybe you are one of the unfortunate souls that are a part of my reality and have noticed the darker moods, and slower reaction times.
My wife has once again taken on the task of outfitting an entire theater production company (something she is amazing at doing), although it unfortunately means that all her time is 110% devoted to that, requiring me to step it up and fill in the gaps. The unfortunate side of this is that fly-fishing adventures have been virtually non-existent for the last month, on top of a previous rough month of holiday retail management that also left no time for fishing. TWO MONTHS OF NEXT TO NO FISHING! AAAAAGGGGGHHHHH
So fishing and this blog have suffered, there is no doubt. On the other hand my wife has once again done an amazing job of firing on all cylinders and created an amazing piece of artistic work. While i’m not going to lie and say i’m super jazzed about losing pretty much every minute of personal time i normally have, i’ve loved getting to take my son on some wonderful evening trips alone just to get him out of the house.
This last Sunday we went to Reimers ranch with two different focuses. Paolo wanted to hike and adventure as much as possible while i was hoping to do some early scouting for possible white bass running up from Lake Travis. To make a long story short, we hiked and hiked before working our way down to the Pedernales where i declared that we should work our way back up the river as the sun was setting. Casting the first line of the day i was informed by my son that he was going to head back on the upper trail because he was more “Forest and grass, than weeds, sand and water.”
Chalking this up to his sarcastic sense of humor (i have no idea where he got it from) i expected to find him standing behind me when i turned around a few minutes later (as has happened a hundred times before.) Crap, no child. Reeling in the line a few minutes later i started vigorously making my way back on the trails, stopping every few minutes to call out for my misplaced son.
Almost 45 minutes later, after driving around most of the park, i found him and saw the terror/realization in his eyes at what he’d done and knew without saying a word that it would never happen again. I couldn’t even bring myself to admonish him, it was obvious he’d already done it to himself. Instead of busting his chops i took him out for pizza where we made a plan incase it should happen again.
A lot of times being a husband / father / manager is allowing people the room to realize not only their successes but also their failures while trying to silently get them back on the right path. Right now i need a giant benevolent hand to do the same for me. I miss the water. I miss the posts. I miss the fish.
The idea for the new “Through the Guides” series from the folks at www.noblelab.com, is to feature the lives of fly fishing guides that excel at their game and have stories to tell.
It’s not surprising that their first featured guide is local All Water Guide, and all around bad ass Alvin Dedaux, the only guide i know that used to work the stage in a funk/rock band (Bad Mutha Goose). For those that don’t know him, he’s a fishing sensei, with rockstar looks, sporting dreads and a casual demeanor that can make even the crappiest day on the water feel like you got to hang out with the Coolest Cat on the planet.
What was surprising as hell though well watching this video was what i noticed on Alvins’ boat at :57 seconds in the video. Yep, that’s a die Fische “Texas Dry Fly Sticker” seen on the right side of the bench, and hell yeah, that’s how we roll.
I think it was after hour four (maybe five) that i stopped actually thinking about what i was doing, and the muscles stepped up to the helm and took command of the ship. At this point my brain had been fading for the last hour due to the monotony it was enduring: cast, mend, take up slack, mend once more, then repeat.
As it tentatively surrendered the five step program to the muscles, and suddenly was freed of the tedium, it shifted gears, focusing all of its remaining energy on a small, frosted and slightly translucent globe floating furtively on the waters surface. Moving slowly along the almost ripple free water the small and silent strike indicator (bobber if you will) appeared no bigger than the dots in the title photo (above).
As the sun made its way across the vast blue canopy my mind became more and more bewitched with the plastic sphere, sure that at any moment it would be pulled below by a leviathan, followed by a glorious battle, and ultimately a fish of epic proportions cradled in the net. As the hours ticked by the possible fish grew in magnitude in the imaginary scenario, the potential photo growing in greatness with every passing minute.
By hour seven, with nary a sign of fish, much less one brought to net, the light had disappeared enough that the thin plastic, pearled jewel could no longer be seen practicing the art of stillness on the river.
Surrendering myself to the fact that this day would bring no desired surprises, i spun on my heels to leave the river and stopped at once. There above the needle-less cypress branches was my milky orb, stiller than still, hanging in the sky. Magic.
With each confident foot step on the trail, thanks to the glow of my once utilitarian indicator, i made my way back to the car, with one phrase playing on loop in my head.
Cast. Mend. Take up Slack. Mend. Nothing…C’est la vie.
I know that new years resolutions are generally about losing weight (i need to), saving money (i need to), or leading a healthier lifestyle (you guessed it), but i usually do what i want to, much to the chagrin of my wallet and health. As noted in a previous post i entered the new year doubled over in pain and isolation, living in the studio in our back yard, all be it with some amazing creature comforts including a well stocked fly tying bar, a stereo with limitless aural stimulation (thank you Spotify), and a kick ass MFC fly box featuring Walter and a trout courtesy of artist Paul Pucket.
I’d spotted the box at Gruene Outfitters, the last of its kind, and was informed that it would be a good idea to buy it if i was considering it, as they might disappear quick due to “licensing concerns”. I quickly snatched it up and had it sitting on the table for a few weeks monopolizing my attention before January 1st reared its head and i stumbled out of shingles hell and into the studio where i suddenly had a purpose for the new year, to tie an entire box worth of my own trout flies.
While i’ve dabbled in fly tying, actually spending more time buying the materials than tying the flies, i’m focused on filling this box with vast amounts of nymphs that will doubtlessly get more complicated as i commit the time to LEARNING how to tie flies instead of just shadowing a self-help video off Vimeo. I’ve made it a point to tie the exact same fly at least six times and have been SHOCKED by the vast improvement in consistency you can acquire just by doing something more than two or three times before moving on (as i did in the past).
I’m publishing this not only to keep myself inspired, but also to allow you to keep me in check. If you don’t see updates on my progress soon, please badger me, i may actually need the constant pestering to achieve this goal, or any goal for that matter.
So this is my goal, what is yours for 2015?
I’m not sure how i’ve missed the output from Brothers on the Fly, since they’ve been putting out top notch videos for at least the last couple of years. All i know is that i will never miss another episode, and you shouldn’t either. Be sure to check out more of their artful video adventures at their Vimeo site. Enjoy!