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Tomorrow is the grand opening for what is sure to be one of the most amazing fly shops in central Texas. Here is the information from their Facebook page!

Saturday, September 16th –
GRAND OPENING EVENT
at 103 N. Brown Street

Living Waters Fly Fishing now has a new home at 103 North Brown Street in Round Rock, Texas! Come out and celebrate with us! Lamppost Coffee (awesome local coffee shop) will be serving coffee when our doors open and there will be plenty of Round Rock Donuts. Matt Bennett with Fly Geek Custom Flies will be fly tying in our new fly tying loft – if you have never watched Matt tie a fly, get ready to be impressed! There will be live music from acoustic guitarist Chandler Hansen throughout the day as well. Gano’s Smokehouse will be serving up BBQ lunch plates at noon ($8 and $12 depending on the plate). TPWD Game Wardens will also be on site with the Operation Game Thief trailer! There will also be three rounds of prize drawings – you do have to enter the free drawing in store, but you don’t need to be present to win! Factory reps from Simms, Ross, Abel, Scientific Anglers, Umpqua, Fishpond, Hatch, TFO and more will be onsite to help answer all of your product questions! Prize items from Simms, Fishpond, Ross Reels, Scientific Anglers, and many more! It will be a shindig to remember, so come help us fill the new digs with fly shop family!

EVENT SCHEDULE:

9:00 A.M. – Doors Open/Round Rock Donuts/Lamppost Coffee

11:00 A.M. – Prize Drawing Round 1

12:00 P.M. – Lunch on site by Gano’s Smokehouse – $8 for Sandwich Combo and $12 for a 3 Meat Plate.

2:00 P.M. – Prize Drawing Round #2

4:00 P.M. – Prize Drawing Round #3

6:00 P.M. – Doors Close

I’ll be swinging by first thing in the morning so be sure to say hello and hit me up for some stickers!

 

It’s hard to get any three people to agree on doing anything anymore it seems, especially when two of them are not only husbands but fathers as well. If my direct personal experience is to be trusted(?), our lives are split and fragmented into so many thousands of tiny bits on a daily basis that finding more than a passing moment, much less an entire day, to focus one hundred percent on each other and a shared experience seems almost nostalgic in this day and age of dings, pings, and constant status updates.

Fortunately for me, I came of age well before even the cell phone was a thing (I was born in 1971). In fact a majority of my life was spent on road trips and adventures where being accessible in any way shape or form simply wasn’t a thing. In my more recent years  I’ve embraced the smartphone for the amazing things it can do (water flows, photo editing, chess) but definitely realize that the trade off is losing that freedom of simply being invisible and unconnected. Luckily there are still a few places where it’s still possible to lose a signal and you’re able to get in touch with nature and the friends that surround you.

 

Recently I pulled into one such signal free sanctuary, Pedernales State Park to meet up with friends Nate and Niall for what was supposed to be a leisurely waltz between pools below the falls. With the oppressive heat still lingering like an unwelcome guest we made our way from pool to pool with little luck. Eventually we made it to one of my favorite spots on the river, a sun drenched stretch hardly knee deep and consistently full of shifting sand bars, roving gar and cruising, distracted carp.

Three weight in hand I stalked the familiar “flats” keeping an eye out for a carp on the hunt. Surprisingly enough it only took a couple of minutes to find a cruiser, cast the fly immediately over its shoulder, strip once and suddenly feel the pull of the animal universe on the other end of the line. After a full summer of them being few and far between it was an immensely satisfying feeling to once again hold a carp close and take in its off brand beauty.

Laughing from the small but immense victory, Nate and I headed down river to hook up with Niall and evaluate our situation.  At this point it was either a quick walk back to our cars via a secret trail to escape the relentless heat and humidity or set out on a 200 yard trek though head high weeds and relentless thorns to show them one of the most magical fishing spots I’ve ever discovered, far back in the nooks and crannies of Pedernales SP.

Ever the troopers they both decided to forge ahead into the thicket, partly because of curiosity but also likely due to the fact that I purposely understated the difficulty in getting there. I’d made this trip before under similar circumstances and therefore was wearing pants, unfortunately my short wearing co-horts didn’t know what they’d signed up for but still braved some intense bush whacking none the less as we set off into the thicket.

Eventually we stumbled out of the brush and onto the stretch of river that I’ve christened “Eden” due to its immense beauty, fishy as hell waters, and capacity to somehow how make one feel isolated yet fully connected to the cosmos at the same time. I’ve had this feeling countless times fishing here alone and I was glad as hell that I was here with friends that deserved to get their own read on the place after putting in their time foraging ahead through the thick of things.

Eventually everyone seemed to find their own space, spreading out and casting at their own rhythm. While Nate and I both had moderate success, it was Niall that eventually tapped into the beat of the river and managed to land an incredible bass that was easily the fish of the day. Having given Nate and Niall space by moving far upstream I missed the epic battle, but honestly I prefer it that way. I’ve written my story on this stretch of water before, now it was their time to create their own narrative, I’ll just hand it down.

Thank you Nate, Niall, the Pedernales and all the aquatic life for the amazing day.

An epic disaster. There’s no other way to put the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey. With the population of Texas and the amount of people hit by the hurricane it’s not unlikely that anyone, anywhere in this country might know friends or family that suffered through this tragedy. If however you live in Texas it is beyond likely that either you or someone you know, be they family, co-worker, or simply the staff of that coffee shop you love in Port Aransas (here’s looking at you Coffee Waves). It’s also likely that if you live in this state you know somebody that volunteered their time to help those effected or hooked their boat up to their truck and headed down to help rescue folks rom the flooding waters (like the folks at Go Outside Expedition Co. and MANY, MANY, MANY more).

There are countless articles that will surely be written about this storm for some time to come, but there’s one unique story that I noticed through my work/blog/social media connections that I’d love to share with you, the readers.

I don’t know if it’s only because for the first time in my life I’ve lived in a state that has suffered such a monumental calamity, but in addition to the AMAZING work of organized relief efforts and courageous individuals there has been a HUGE cry of support from Texas-based businesses. These are people who live here, work here and play here in Texas, be they the Yeti monolith (Austin) or up and coming companies like Sight Line Provisions (Austin). All of the following just happen to be businesses I personally know that contributed all proceeds of one kind or another to Hurricane Harvey relief and as such should be remembered as local businesses that helped fellow citizens out, putting philanthropy for profit. It’s not that a massive check from Amazon isn’t appreciated, but when your dollars spent locally directly feed back into your community those dollars can pack much more of a punch, with a lot more love behind them.

Already happened:

Yeti (Austin): donated all sales (heard it was 1.5 million) on 09/01/17 to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.

Gruene Outfitters (Gruene): inspired by Yeti, donated all sales ($11,500) on 09/01/17 to Salvation Army in the Gulf Coast area.

Epic Bars (Austin): donated $400,000 worth of product (food) to Central Texas Food Bank.

The River House ( Gruene): took all sales from 09/01 ($3,500) and donated to relief efforts. (P.S. Their deviled eggs are to die for.)

Ongoing:

Howler Bros (Austin): donating all sales from limited edition T-shirt to hurricane recovery, $50,000 already raised before Sept. 1st.

Sightline Provisions (Austin/Dripping Springs): already did limited run and $1,300 donation, now donating 50% of all new limited edition bracelets to relief efforts.

Sea Level (Corpus Christi): doing a run of limited edition t-shirts with 100% proceeds going to Corpus Christi Food Bank

Whole Earth Provision Co. (Texas staple): previous employer I love that is now undertaking a fund drive for the Houston Food Bank

I’m sure there are many local Texas companies that I’ve missed here so please feel free to comment with information on a brand / company you love or work for and let us know how they’ve helped so we can support them!

photos by Joshua Money and Nate Imig

Late summer in Central Texas. Your local honey holes have dried up. You can’t bear the heat any longer. The spots that are still flowing and fishable are far too often flooded with tubers and, unless you’re okay with waiting 20 minutes in between casts to let these floaters go by, can be hardly worth your time. This leaves an avid fly fisherman two options… sit around, tie some flies, and day-dream in a depressive state about the adventures that you’d much rather be on, OR grab a buddy, throw some sleeping bags, a tent, a Yeti full of food, and your favorite fly rods in the back of the truck, and head away from the crowds, and to a far cooler climate.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love our Texas fisheries. Some of my fondest memories are of sticking beautiful rainbow trout on the Guadalupe River with my dad on a cold afternoon, or watching bass blow up the surface of the Blanco in pursuit of that fruit cocktail deerhair popper, or even of landing dozens of sunfish just before sunset out on Brushy Creek. Every time I’m out on the water, I’m reminded of how blessed we are to be able to fly fish all of the wonderful opportunities that the state of Texas has to offer. But after being out in more days over 100 degrees than I care to count, and catching more smallmouth bass than I care to count, the tall mountains, cool weather, and the chance to land monster, wild trout were all calling my name.

And so early one August morning, we headed out on what would prove to be one of the most amazing adventures of my life thus far. The first stop was Antonito, Colorado, a 13 hour drive from home. Well, typically 13 hours, assuming you don’t run into one of the most epic, intimidating, powerful storms you’ve ever witnessed, have to make far more bathroom stops than intended, or almost run over an elk. Unfortunately for us, all three of those events occurred, setting us for a much slower pace than expected. But hey, that’s why I called it an adventure…

At around 3 AM, we found our campsite at the edge of the Rio Grande National Forest, nestled among the pines. Completely and utterly exhausted, we hastily set up our sleeping bags in the bed of the truck, and slept out under the stars. That is, until the stars were no longer visible thanks to the clouds, which then decided to dump freezing rain unto us around 5:30 AM (who needs sleep anyways?). After a quick breakfast of camp tacos, we were off to the mighty Conejos River, a beautiful fishery, winding through the Rio Grande National Forest, home to some feisty, massive browns.

First cast into the clear waters of the Conejos goes exactly where I wanted it. I watch my indicator slowly drift through a run that looks as if it’s certainly holding something special. The anticipation is killing me. Long into its drift, my strike indicator shoots underwater, with a visible flash of silver in the depths below. A better start to the day then I could have ever imagined. Unfortunately, the ending of this first fish encounter wasn’t as pleasant. A long, energy depleting battle with this stocky, powerful rainbow trout, ended with a mistake that proved to be critical. A little too much tension on the line while trying to net this fish resulted in my flies heading one direction (directly at me), and the fish going the other (directly away from my outstretched net). I was obviously disappointed, but stayed level-headed, as we still had days of fishing to go, and although a big fish, the rainbow lost was not the fish of a lifetime. Little did I know, this was only the beginning of my frustrations to come. I walked down river, and caught up with my fishing partner and best friend Nate, who had just landed and released a stunningly colored rainbow. We fished a few hours longer with no success, made the decision to call it a day, and headed up to the truck and off to our next destinations; The Gunnison River and Spring Creek.

The “Gunni” yielded much more success for the two of us that next morning. Three solid, hard fighting browns landed between us in quick succession had us fly fisherman smiling from ear to ear. Things were starting to look up from the day before, and the thought of losing that big Conejos Rainbow was quickly fading from my mind with each fish that found its way into our nets. The afternoon fishing on Spring Creek, a beautiful dry-fly fishery high in the Gunnison National Forest loaded with brookies, browns, and cutthroat, was just as exciting. The creek browns just couldn’t resist those big orange stimulators being so delicately presented in front of them in the gin-clear water. Although we landed some decent fish in the creek, our minds kept wandering back toward those big brown trout landed early in the day on the Gunnison. We knew when morning came, we had to head back in search of that 20 inch brown trout we each so desperately wanted to land. And so at sunrise, we left our campsite, hidden in the forest at over 11,000 feet, in the shadow of Mt. Elbert and made the 30+ mile off-road drive back to Gunnison.

After doing some scouting, and wading through a swamp that sparked thoughts of Louisiana rather than western Colorado, we came upon a spot that appeared to come right out of a fly fisherman’s dreams. It was a deep, but easily wadeable run, spanning close to half a mile long, flowing right into the Blue Mesa Reservoir. Soon into this excursion I hooked and lost another long battle to a 20+ inch rainbow, who refused to do anything other than repeatedly launch itself out of the water for a good 5 minutes before finally shaking the flies and heading off to deeper water. Still remaining positive at this point though. Minutes later, I hooked into a fish so massive, that until it made it’s first big run, I just assumed I was snagged on a tree limb. But boy was I wrong. A brown trout, in the 25-27 inch range, thought he would make a feast of my flies. For time’s sake, and for the sake of me not having to relive it, I’ll skip to the part where I threw my rod in the grass after a 20 minute fight and having the beast within feet of the net. I vividly remember looking at Nate and saying “I’m done fishing”. And for about a minute and a half I truly meant it. But after my brief 90 second retirement, I pulled out my Scott 6 weight, and set it up for a new approach, streamer fishing. My decision to stay out on the water (and change tactics) paid off in a way I could have never expected as two beautiful rainbow trout, both over 20 inches were landed after long, adrenaline fueled battles. Sweet, sweet redemption. And Nate, who hadn’t managed to land a fish that day on the Gunnison, had some big time redemption headed his way too.

The last destination was the Dream Stream, a stretch of Colorado’s South Platte River, that Nate so boldly put, is, “Like the New Zealand of the United States”. Just on appearance, The Dream Stream lives up to its name. Surrounded on all sides by mountains, the river twists and turns through an expansive, flat, open field. Due to the 27 degree temperature, steam was rising from every inch of the water. Large flocks of Canadian Geese flew directly overhead as the sun rose above the mountains in the distance. Before I even wet a line, I could tell that this place was truly magical. But the real magic began once my size 22 midges made their way into the water. A few minutes in, I’d hooked and landed a healthy male brown trout, that fought way above his weight class. Not long after that, Nate hooked up with a fish that, I could tell just by looking at the bend in his rod, wasn’t your average 15-16 inch Trout. Without hardly a thought, I threw my rod and pack in the bushes, unclipped my net, and made a dead sprint to my friend who was in the battle of his life with this fish. After what seemed like hours (closer to 10 minutes), crossing the river probably 5 times, running up and down the banks of the Dream Stream, and taking a brief swim, we landed his fish, a beautiful rainbow trout that broke the 20 inch mark. I can honestly say I’ve never worked so hard to land someone else’s fish, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way, and I can also honestly say that (despite the event to come) that helping my best friend land his personal best trout was my favorite memory from this adventure.

But I couldn’t let my friend get away without doing some work for me too. Within about 5 minutes, I’d hooked into another fish of my own. And this one wasn’t messing around. I withstood run after run after run, my Hatch reel whining as this mammoth trout strained my drag. This fish had every trick in the book, making long powerful runs, using the current to prevent me from reeling him closer, tucking himself into a hole that ran deep under the bank, and diving down into deep pockets. But I refused to lose another trophy fish. After about 20 minutes, and Nate running up and down the bank, across the river, and taking a swim in the deep stuff, we netted the monster, a cutbow that exceeded the 23 inch mark (see title bar for photo). We got our pictures, and sent the beast on his merry way. Completely drained, I laid down in the tall grass on the bank of the South Platte, and thought to myself, “What a perfect end to an amazing trip”