How do you cram an entire day that felt like a walking dream into a few paragraphs cranked out in the twenty minutes you have left before your old man narcolepsy kicks in and you drift off to that place where it all began? You type like hell, fast and furious until your fingers bleed, and the words fill empty screen with imagery to fulfill the senses…but i digress.
The dream began with an encounter and free tacos. The encounter wasn’t random, but the free tacos most definitely were. The plan had been hatched by James over at Mysterious Water years ago, so long ago in fact, that i was going through what i would gently call an “antisocial” period. The idea thrown out way back then was to meet and fish a private stretch of water along the Blanco. Seems simple enough, but because i was so wrapped up in my ego and my issues at the time, i just couldn’t seem to do my part to make it happen. Now, with James visiting from his new home in Washington, the offer was once extended again, and being a much more functional individual now, i accepted with much eagerness and anticipation.
Sitting in the awesome Milagro’s Hill Country Tex-Mex, information was obtained and the day hashed out. James, his long time pal David and i, were getting some tips form the restaurant owner, and all around nice guy, Scott when three plates of free taco dinners showed up “randomly”. Supposedly they were mis-orders, but since James had been a long time employee of the establishment, it seems much more likely that the “accidental” duplicate dishes were more of an intentional gift, either way, free food (and especially tacos) are a great way to start the day.
An hour later the three of us were working our way into a pool the size of a football field, each one of us in a different craft, a kayak (James), a kick-boat (David), and my paddle board (me), hoping that diversity would increase our chances in this deep, cool, flowing water that felt so strange and new (yet oddly familiar). After a good 45 minutes of working the vegetation with my 3WT and some poppers that would have felt more at home on a 7WT, i cast, stripped, and slowly got distracted by my surroundings. By the time my gaze had wandered off to the horizon i heard the familiar “SLORP” sound and turned around just in time to see an easily 24″ Largemouth take my popper down with it like a sinking ship. As it raced to the inner deepness of the pool i called out to the others and had them turn around just in time to see…nothing. The bass (and i) snapped the 3X leader like thread as i worked the line far harder than it wanted to work.
I started to swear out loud, but despair and regret quickly set in causing my vulgar outburst to sound more like a gentle plea for mercy, “FFFFUUUUuuuuuuu….”
The wind was put back in my sails a little later by a decent size bass (Largemouth?) that put up a hell of a fight and took away some of the sting left by it’s much larger sibling. Reenergized, i started making my way downstream towards some breathtaking falls, and the second of two pools we’d hit that day. Enchanted by the amazing beauty that enveloped me, i started feeling guilty for having it all to myself (and my comrades), and thinking how it was to bad it wasn’t a public park. Then it hit me, that was exactly the reason that it WAS so beautiful, i actually saw only ONE piece of trash the whole way ( a beer can that i packed out). It seemed you could have one or the other, public/trash or private/pristine (just look at Barton Creek), and at least for this day i felt privileged to see the other side of the coin.
All right. Times short, my fingers are swelling and the Sandman is knocking at the door, so here we go. Fast forward a few magical hours.
Spotting a bunch of Gar an hour before packing out, i off handedly asked if either James or David had ever caught a Gar. Upon hearing that they hadn’t i thought it would be kind of novel to catch one and show them after my recent luck with them. A few minutes later i had landed a smaller specimen (24 inches) and had them paddle over to check it out. They both agreed that it was kind of “neat” and then simultaneously went back to fishing for bass. As i let the gar go i stood up on the board and saw a HUGE Longnose drift by in the shadows, at that moment i felt that i had to show them something grand. Glancing at my 7’6″ 3WT and the 8LB. leader it sported, i suddenly felt that uneasy queasiness i feel when i know i’m going to do something that is both exciting and stupid at the same time.
Moments later i stripped my fly in front of the gar, shaking uncontrollably with anticipation, he glanced, swung his head and attacked as i almost puked with excitement (seriously). The monster was caught and he was not happy. He bolted like a bat out of hell dragging me, my 3WT and the paddle board across the waters surface. Suddenly i felt it hit me like a ton of bricks, i was tied into a whole lot of crazy. The battle that followed was epic to put it mildly. One armed paddling in an effort to get on solid ground while fighting the fish, stepping off the board into a gaping hole and suddenly finding myself swimming for shore with one arm tethered to a prehistoric beast, slipping and slamming various body parts against snot slick boulders.
With David and James slightly mesmerized by the one man show (i don’t blame them, it was quite a spectacle), i eventually mentioned that there was no way i could land this fish by myself (something i’ve never had the privilege of saying before). Suddenly James, high on adrenaline, jumped in the water and gripped the thrashing fish by the jaw and drug it onto the slick rock that made for a crappy piece of terra-firma. Sitting there with 40 plus inches of scary fish between us, we just sort of laughed, a kind of high nervous laugh and soaked it all in.
There’s a lot more to the story, but it’s time for bed. If i didn’t have bruises i’d probably wonder if it even happened, the day was just to amazing, to perfect. The scenery was heavenly, the camaraderie was stellar and the fishing was obviously out of this world. If i didn’t have the photos or the battle scars, i would say it was all a dream…one i’d like to have every night for the rest of my life.