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One of the true highlights of the recent Troutfest was hooking up with Gabe, the other half of Gar Brothers Collective and feeding off each others manic addiction to gar while also instilling that energy in anyone around that was willing to receive (more on that in an upcoming post). If i’ve said it once, i’ve said it a thousand times, gar are the new carp (at least here in the south). Need proof? Check out the respect that gar are starting to get form Texas Parks and Wildlife, including a full write up in the recent issue of their print magazine.
Welcome to Gar Country mis amigos, watch out for the teeth!
I’ve been trying to catch a white bass fly fishing presentation for years in hopes of getting a clue as to what i’ve been doing wrong/right when fishing for these incredibly fun game fish. Luckily i’ll be able to find out tomorrow at Living Waters. I have to work in the evening but i’m looking forward to catching Keith Barnes presentation (and downing some donuts).
February 28, Saturday – WHITE BASS DAY
9:00 A.M. – Doors Open / Round Rock Donuts
10:00 A.M. – Fly Fishing for White Bass (Hill Country Region) – Presenter: Keith Barnes
Plan on fly fishing the Texas Hill Country for white bass? Keith Barnes will show you how! He has been guiding the Highland Lakes for years and knows what’s up for springtime sandies!
1:00 P.M. –Fly Fishing for White Bass (North Central Texas/Waco Region)– Presenter: Pat Vanek
Waco may not be on every white bass angler’s to-fish list, but it should be! Pat LOVES chasing white bass on the fly, and he will show you a few lesser known locations that just might turn out to be your new favorite destination!
3:00 P.M. – Tying for White Bass– Presenters: Matt Bennett and Pat Vanek
The beauty of fly tying for white bass: The flies are simple and effective! Matt and Pat will show you how to fill your box with more than enough go-to patterns to get the job done! www.livingwatersflyfishing.com
P.S. I’ll be bringing some stickers, so hit me up it you want some. Hope to see you all there!
Recently at Troutfest here in Texas i found myself constantly being introduced by one gifted individual to another. Case in point, Jacob introduced me to a fellow named Davis and recommended that i check out the video that Davis had on his cell phone. To be honest i kind of rolled my eyes in my head thinking “here we go again”, but of all the things i saw at Troutfest, this piece from Davis, a.k.a Below the Canopy was one of my favorite. Apparently he’s been doing BMX videos for a while and this is his first foray into fly fishing videos, which only makes me wonder, what is this dude going to be doing a year from now? Blowing our minds no doubt.
The weekend had been looming in the distance for months. I’d always planned on taking part o the event and writing about it as an observer, something i’d done numerous times before, but with one conversation all of that would change. After talking with Jacob at Gruene Outfitters about a loose plan of action, i found myself designing posters, t-shirts, doing social promotions and ultimately standing behind a table selling my wares and explaining to person after person just exactly what “die Fische” meant.
Troutfest, an annual event put on by the local chapter of Trout Unlimited (GRTU), has always been a special time to catch up on old acquaintances and make new ones, but in the past there has always been an odd lull from 5PM (when the structured events end) to 7PM (when the Fly Fishing Film Tour starts). In an effort to bring out some of the younger fly fishers that might be new to the sport, and unfamiliar with Sattler, Troutfest, the GRTU and even the Fly Fishing Film Tour, Gruene Outfitters decided to host a “Happy Hour” to fill the void and was kind enough to ask me to co-host, and help with the graphics.
Stuffing all my custom hats, mugs, stickers, etc. into a few carefully packed boxes, i drove the hour south, half in a daze, worried (un-realisticly) that nobody would show for the happy hour, or worse, they might glance at my lame attempts at coolness before grabbing the boxes and dumping all my wares into the Guadalupe, in hopes of chumming the waters for trophy trout. (Yes, confidence is an issue for me.)
Stopping by Gruene Outfitters to check in with Jacob, i made my way to the back of the shop where all the fly fishing gear is. Within moments i was in conversation with two gentleman from Lubbock that were new to fishing the area, and quickly i slipped into my retail self and helped them with information and product knowledge before turning over the helm to Captain Jacob. It was an immensely fun detour, getting to use my customer service knowledge, but applying it to something i seldom get to talk about at great length.
An hour later, stuffed on kolaches, i was on the water and wading down to a new favorite spot on the Guadalupe before 11AM. In the span of the next few hours, three or four handsome trout were landed while nymphing with the 10′ Grey’s Streamflex rod that i’m just now getting used to after owning it for two or three years (As i learned from Egan Jones, the secret is to use a heavier reel lined with the same weight line as the rod to help balance the whole outfit.)
Later, after the fourth trout, i glanced around to spot the sun, an activity that usually found me catching it right before it disappeared behind a rock cliff or a thick set of trees, such is my habit of getting on the water far to late in the day. This day however i was shocked to see that not only was there actually time left, there were HOURS of it remaining before any sort of artificial light would have to be implemented. It was shortly after this realization that i hooked into the 19″ trout (below) that not only put up a good fight, it also had some of the most amazing colors i’ve come across yet on a Guadalupe trout this season.
After releasing the trout i noticed a few nicks in the tippet and reconfigured the dropper situation before wading a few feet and noticing that (again) my hemostats were not where they should be on my waders. With mud swirling around my feet and endless limestone crooks and crannies lying between me and the bank three feet away, i thrust my hand into the murkiness at my feet and pulled up what looked like nothing but twigs, decaying detritus and other random debris. Immediately on shaking what felt like a thick stack of sticks i saw the glistening gold of my hemostats and could surprisingly muster nothing more poetic than “Are you f-ing kidding me?”
I’m guessing that the same rules that apply to cat’s lives also apply to hemostats, which means i can lose/find them only three more times before i have to throw down a sawbuck and change for a new pair with the unwritten “9 Lives” insurance plan.
As good as the day was, it only got better when i happened to cross the path of Greg and Casey from Sportsmans Finest who invited me to hang out on their temporary patio at the Hideout that overlooked all the waters i’d fished that day, while regaling each other with fishing stories and also talking shop. Before settling in though, they informed me they had to go pick up beer but invited me to hang out on the patio, assuring me they’d be back momentarily.
After a few selfies (you have to understand, there was a kick ass wooden chair involved) i heard a skirmish around the corner and headed over, hoping to help Greg and Casey with their treasure. Instead what i found was a slightly older, handsome, long blond hair gentleman that looked a suspicious amount like Stacy Peralta, digging around beneath a welcome mat. Along with him was a local guide that quickly asked me if i knew the gentleman in question, Kelly Gallup.
To my credit, i managed to make small talk quickly while they hurried back to the car and on to the next floor mat that hopefully held his keys.
Me: “I was in Bass Pro Shop and saw that they changed the name of the “Sex Dungeon” to just “Dungeon”?
KG: “Well Cabela’s has changed the name of all my flies, so…”
Me: “Man, that sucks!”
KG: “Yeah, until the royalties come in!” At which point he slammed the car door and took off into the sunset as i stood spellbound, feeling as though a fly tying Jedi had had just burst the synapses of my brain with some nuevo-zen logic.
After that, all i could think was that there was no way this day could get any more awesome, so i kicked back and sipped some wine from the flask. Minutes later Greg and Casey returned, beers in tow, whereupon i quickly related the story of the quick brush with fame. Immediately upon hearing it Casey asked if Kelly or i had noticed that i was currently sporting a brown Sex Dungeon fly on my fedora. I don’t know if Kelly did, (i surely didn’t) but i can only assume you’re going to notice when YOUR fly is staring you back in the face from a straw fedora a few feet away.
Shortly after that cosmic happenstance i made my way back to my campsite, slipped into the sleeping bag and shut my lids well before 9PM. It’s not that i was tired per se, it’s just that sometimes you don’t want to push lady luck and ruin a good thing.
Plus, there was so much more to come…
Fishing is like a great deal of life, when you’re landing fish it’s great and grand, but when the bites are not forthcoming. It can take a Herculean effort just to make it through the day. Since the beginning of this year, i’ve been plagued by all kinds of frustrations, ranging from prolonged illness to multiple fish-less days on the water. Much of it i’m sure can be chalked up to the exhausting battle going on inside my head and heart as i prepare to write a new chapter for myself. After eleven years at my current job (which i do love) i’m trying to find something new that can bring my work and my passions into some sort of accord, all without making my family suffer just because i’m driven enough to chase a dream.
Being so wrapped up in the endless loop of worrying about the future, (my last day is in August, so i’ve got a while to figure it out) i was elated to have my good friend Brittan insist that we meet up and fish for some trout on the Guadalupe. If you’re ever so wrapped up in your thoughts that you find it hard to maneuver, it’s a good idea to set a fishing date with friends, nothing motivates like the fear of letting a fellow angler down.
After grabbing the ubiquitous breakfast tacos (for immediate consumption) and kolaches for the packs, we parked and hiked down to what i surely feel is one of the most scenic parts of the Guadalupe trout waters. While working a large pool there with a slow-moving strike indicator, i watched in disbelief as the bobber ticked, ticked, ticked along the surface before plummeting with gusto, the bobber looking as surprised as i was to find we had hooked into a handsome trout. Landing the trout and smiling like a wanted criminal for Brittan’s shot, all i could think was “Well hell, it’s about time.”
Later in the day, after much walking, exploring and a countless amount of unfruitful casts, it was Brittan’s time to shine. With family obligations looming, he announced that this was absolutely his last drift through a pool, where he had just spotted the outline of a good sized trout. Casting to the top of the pool, the indicator plopped on the water’s surface as i stepped in close and randomly interjected…
“How cool would that be if on your last cast you caught that…”
Before i could finish the sentence the words stopped and we both gawked in amazement as the fish turned its head and inhaled his fly. Grabbing my net, i lurched forward and ensnared the improbable catch, while simultaneously noting that the world i’d been living in for the last month or so was quickly balancing itself out.
Smiling and happy, we said our good byes, and Brittan made his way back upriver with a certain lightness in his stride that indicated the fish had done its job. Curious as hell, i made my way slightly upstream to quiz an angler that we had seen pull five or so trout out of a nice pool in rapid succession. To my surprise (kind of) it was Jimbo, a gregarious gentleman that oversees the trout stocking program on this river; he very obviously knew exactly what he was doing. Jimbo was kind enough to offer not only his fishing spot, but tips and tricks, and ultimately his rod in an effort to try to get me on some trout. It was probably only thirty minutes or so, but Jimbo crammed a days worth of guide knowledge into one half hour’s endless stream of advice that didn’t manage to work while he was watching, but did pay off immediately after he left, with five fish coming to the net in quick succession.
The high i felt was incredible, it truly felt like i was back in form after weeks of almost fishing depression. The joy was so great that even three of the worst, most thoughtless young anglers didn’t ruin it completely when they gathered around me and started fishing this tiny pocket that was no where big enough for even two friends to fish together. My first reaction was rage, and the impulse to impolitely ask them just what the hell they thought they were doing. But sitting on the bank for a minute, untangling a wind knot, i not only felt sorry for them, hacking at the air with their rods and sending any observant fish fleeing for cover, but i suddenly felt the same feeling wash over me that i had felt back in December at my job. It’s that moment when you know you’ve accomplished some inner desire, or some indescribable goal.
First you feel an almost tangible calmness emanate from your chest. Then the audible stillness takes over, the mindless chatter of problems and worries out of your control overtaken by the massive sound of nothingness. You smile, you step back and you wish those around you the best of luck, you snip off your fly, tuck it in your box, reel in the line, and set off for the next adventure.
Thank you to everyone that has ever given me a compliment or helped in any way with keeping me on this path (both the blog and life, they truly are one and the same). I love doing this blog for all of us. I’m nervous as hell about what the future holds, but i promise that whatever it is will only help make this blog (and by extension, me) better. -Danke
Shifting the Element into reverse, i checked the left rear view mirror before swiveling my head over my right shoulder and noting the buffer zone between the curb, my vehicle, and the VW parked behind me. It was then that i felt an odd tingle shoot up my spine alerting me that something was strangely out of whack. As i casually backed in and shifted my chariot into “park”, the reason for the awkward feeling instantly became clear…i was parallel parking to fish, what the hell? -cue record scratching to a stop
While i assuredly have done my fair share of urban fishing, most of it has been in places to questionable or hard to reach to have other folks fishing right over my shoulder. I revel in the solitude, or at least moderate solitude, that most of my fishing affords, but there are times when either due to time restraints or simple curiosity i find myself in fishing situations i normally wouldn’t take part in. Such was the case the other day when i found myself elbow to elbow with many others fishing for trout at a local urban lake. (That plus an itch to share something new with our readers.)
Mueller Lake is about as urban as you can get. Located in the heart of downtown Austin it’s a manmade lake that is laced in picnic benches, playgrounds, and walking trails. Unfortunately it suffers from the same problems most urban waters face (excessive pollution and water that is a little scary to come in contact with) but when it’s one hour to sundown it still beats sitting still in an idling casket waiting for traffic to move. Once a year Texas Parks and Wildlife unleashes the full fury of their stocking trucks on this urban refuge, dropping 2,000 trout into the water. The fish are nothing to quit your day job over, with most being around 10 inches, but when it’s cold, the bass are sleeping, and they’re only a ten minute commute from your work, they just might be what you need.
A few tips if you’re thinking of going:
- You will very likely be the ONLY fly fisher in a sea of bait and spin fishers. Be ready for glares, questions and not much elbow room.
- There is a LOT of trash pooled up in the water, don’t discourage, remember, this isn’t Cheesman Canyon. (Bonus, pick some of it up!)
- The fish were stocked on Feb. 8th, but at the rate they are being pulled out, you might want to go sooner rather than later.
- Watch that backcast! Unless you’re there first thing in the morning, there are ALWAYS people walking or running behind you.
- Don’t forget, you are in the heart of Austin. You are catching trout. How f-ing weird is that? ENJOY!