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Archive for 2015


 

More incredible footage from the folks at Hooké. I can’t wait for the day that we cross paths, it’ll be amazing. These guys are the real deal and their laughter and obvious love of life makes me smile every time i watch this.

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After a long day (our busiest of the year actually) at the local Whole Earth Provision Company in downtown Austin i needed a quick escape, something involving the last few rays of light, some water, and possibly even a fish on the end of my line.

Within minutes of leaving work i found a parking spot along the re-constructed peninsula between Shoal Creek and Town Lake. A long time favorite spot of mine, over the last year or so the muddy banks have now been off limits while slowly being replaced with massive limestone bricks that have turned a semi-decent spot into one of the best urban fishing spots in Austin.

Re-visiting this spot after a year or so felt oddly familiar except for the massive influx of bass boats using trolling motors on the “wake free” water.

Despite the heavily outfitted competition cruising uncomfortably close, i managed to get a tug on the second cast, immediately putting a bend in my 5WT rod and plastering a smile on my face while also inviting every bass boat in the neighborhood to get uncomfortably close.

Removing the hook quickly, and encouraging the fish to depart in the opposite direction of the bass boats i had one of those moments where all i could think was “I love this town, i love this water, and i love that sanity can be found here in the deep heart of all the chaos.”

Nine hours of stress relieved in fifteen minutes of fishing before the sun set. The happiness was almost audible with each step as i strode back to the car moments later. Everyone should be lucky enough to have moments like these, no matter where they live or what they are passionate about, i just happen to know that mine is fly fishing and the waters in ATX and for that i am eternally thankful.

Happy holidays folks, what are you thankful for?

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Time to buckle down and make smart decisions about when to hit the water, and when to hole up and tie flies (especially for our readers further north). This soundtrack is the perfect accompaniment to spending hours tying thread wraps in front of the vice or navigating snowy roads with white knuckles  Click here or check out the sidebar for the tunes.

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Tying a handful of nymphs, in preparation for the next days adventure, i heard the phone beg for my attention and glanced over to see the following text message light up the screen,

“Llllaaannnoooo?”

A smile slowly ambled through the crosswalk of my jaw as i simultaneously realized three things:

  1. I wasn’t the only one watching the TPWD trout stocking schedule like a hawk.
  2. Of the few people that DID watch it, of course my good friend Oscar would be one.
  3. I wasn’t going to be fishing alone the next day.

Living in Texas there aren’t any true trout fishing waters to speak of, which is where the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) comes in, stocking trout in an effort to promote fishing Texas waters throughout the winter. The vast majority of these farm raised trout end up in city ponds and lakes putting them in front of expectant humans ready for a quick meal. Every year though, a few lucky (?) trout end up in some of the clear, cool flowing waters of the Hill Country that closely resemble their once native waters and provide both fish and angler a modicum of dignity while waltzing around each other in an endless dance.

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The Llano river near Castell, TX is one of these spots, but also one of the oddest, lying as it does two hours or more from any metropolitan center and having a population of just over 100 people. As far as development goes, Castell offers little more than a general store that seems to fluctuate between “Your Regular Old General Store” and a “David Lynch Over the Top Mind Fuck” depending on who is behind the bar, who is in front of it, and what sort of liquids are being enjoyed on either side of the counter, regardless of the time of day.

Just down the hill from this culture shock the refreshingly clear and cool waters of the Llano river flow through a low water crossing that is one of three spots on this stretch of water that annually have somewhere around 2,ooo plus un-educated and gullible trout distributed amongst them. Anglers present in the first week or so (Oscar and i were there the day after the stocking) will find schools of trout moving together with the occasional teen-angst misfit veering off of the pack and finding it’s own niche in some isolated bend of the stream. Within the first few days it’s not uncommon at all to land 50 or so fish in a day as Oscar did using his tried and true 12′ nymphing rod and well rehearsed technique. I personally was feeling anxious to try out my virgin 6’2″ 2WT fiberglass rod, something that no sane person should ever use with a nymphing rig. Unfortunately i can be as stubborn as a mule and lost double digit trout before i figured out the hook set on such a light and nimble rod, and finally started landing trout but still lost two for every one landed.

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Any normal day, and on any normal water, losing fish of these numbers would probably cause one to soak their Buff with tears of frustration. However, these are no normal waters, these are freshly stocked, innocent waters, and these are are where you can afford to try the ridiculous and still walk away with the high rush of success coursing through your veins like a warm shot of whiskey.

They trout may not be big, but they are relatively abundant and the waters are relatively untouched (especially if you take waders and head just 30 yards downstream). They’re not the most difficult fish to catch (except for when they are) and because of that you can try all the crazy shit that you’d never even think to waste time on along the Guadalupe. Forget your size 22 midges and 7X tippet, these fish are crazed and starving, looking for cheeseburgers and fries (presented with a good dead drift of course.)

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I recommend checking it out at least once this season, just be sure to check in at the Castell General Store before parking in their riverside lot, and be prepared for ANYTHING to happen regardless of what the clock and your upbringing tells you is appropriate. I find that a shot of espresso downed with a shot of port prepares me for random acts of insanity like having trained squirrels running up and down my arms at 8AM, but of course you’ll have to figure out what works for you.

Best of luck.

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