Blog_WEK_TWO_GRID_1024x1024all images from www.howlerbros.com

One of the best parts of immersing yourself in something you’re passionate about is that you run into so many other people who have centered their life and energy around the same thing, which in turn adds fuel to your fire. Whether its Orvis, Costa, Patagonia, or many others, we’ve had the good fortune to meet a great many folks over the years that are just as passionate about fly-fishing and the outdoors as we are.

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Of the many we’ve had the pleasure to know, Howler Bros. holds a firm seat at the top of that list. Not only do they fish, create amazing art, collaborate with smaller artists and indie companies, play in a band AND live in Austin, but they also know how to throw good parties and have fun. They’ve always shared that fun factor via their blog, but lately it seems as though the blog is buzzing with “next level” activity. Not only is there a great interview with cinematographer R.C. Cone of Tributaries Digital Cinema, creator of many astounding fly fishing films, but there are also the weekly updates from the Howler Privateers. In case you missed our recent post, it’s pretty much the ongoing road journals from two stellar dudes traveling the country in a murdered out van replete with horns, traveling from trade show to campground, and on to waters, in the manner we all probably dream of.

Click here to follow their adventure, and be sure to by them a beer if you run into them on the road or water. I hear they like that.

P.S. Don’t forget to support those companies that are as passionate about the things you love as you are. You vote with your dollars with every purchase, and every company mentioned above is going above and beyond to keep fly-fishing a viable and ongoing sport for future generations to enjoy.

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Davis Finn James over at Below the Canopy is one of the new breed of fly fishing cinematographers that are cranking out incredible videos on shoe-string budgets (or none at all). His most recent video is a feature for Cordova Custom Rods (featured on Fiberglass Manifesto) creating custom fiberglass rods out of the San Antonio area. It’s wonderful to see creative people like Davis and Cordova come together and we’re super honored to feature them here.

Bonus: In reviewing the video just now, at the 11 second point i recognized the t-shirt collaboration we did with Gruene Outfitters. Crazy.

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Much to my chagrin, the vacation is over. After an impromptu two weeks tucked away in northeastern New Mexico along the Cimmaron River, i’m back and ready to regale you all with stories and information that will doubtlessly last for a week or two.

Of all the stories of personal adventure, new waters discovered, fished tricked, and treasures brought to net though, what follows was the absolute most amazing part of the trip, bar none.

Four days into our trip, my son (age 11) asked if he could tag along with me while i fished the Cimmaron (which is some pretty technical small water if i do say so myself.) As someone who’s never pushed fishing on him, and who also really enjoys their time alone, i’ll admit i was a little skeptical how this would work out since the idea of him finding a spot to read (and be in sight) while i continued to bushwhack upstream through endless shrubbery and plant entanglement seemed dubious at best.

Somehow though, it did work out having him follow me, which turned out to be a blessing. “The Moment” happened at a deep pool that tore at a southern bank, undercutting it with a current that forced it’s way to the left and downriver, a spot where any sort of angling magic could happen. I expected a trophy trout as proof of the potential stored in its depths, instead i heard the soft sound of my son’s voice, barely audible above the hum of moving water.

IMG_0064Casting in extremely tight and technical quarters.

“Papa? I think i’d like to start fly-fishing so i can learn patience, and also to get to spend more time with you.”

After wiping the god dam tears of joy from my eyes, i turned around and in the most nonchalant manner i could muster, said that i’d love to teach him for those very reasons as well.

A short while later, we found a spot devoid of backcast traps and i stepped into the roll of fly fishing guide, trying to dispense manageable amounts of tips and tricks without overwhelming my protégé. Within thirty minutes, much to my surprise, he hooked into a ten inch rainbow that finalized his resolve and set him on the fly fishing path.

Later that day i took him to a small pool of clear, flowing water tucked against a cliff face some 50 feet high. It had been stocked recently with farm raised rainbow, and every cast caused numerous trout to wrestle for the fly as though it were the most divine meal they would ever taste. Not a bad way to get into the sport, catching double digit fish on your first day on the water. As fish after fish came to hand we quickly moved through all the tips on setting hooks, landing fish, and the ethics of quick photos and even quicker release.

IMG_0067First trout ever. Took a while to figure out how to hold them, not a bad problem.

With the sun setting behind the cliffs i stood watch as he released a nice 13″ rainbow, head upstream, waiting for the moment the fish bolted on its own accord. Watching him rinse his hands in the crystal like waters i felt the obligatory need to remark.

“I’m sure you know this isn’t what fishing normally is like?”

“I know papa, this isn’t real fishing, it’s too easy. Real fishing is about patience and waiting for that right moment when everything comes together,” he responded.

True that (on so many levels).

Later as i dozed off in my down bag i remember my last thought for the night being that guiding and parenting are essentially the same. You arm your client/child with just enough knowledge that they can use that as a basis for them to make their own decisions and succeed or fail. If they fail, you offer alternative solutions and advice, and if they succeed, you encourage more of the same peppered with bits on how to do it better and take them to the next level. Above all else though, whether client or child, it’s not about you. It’s all about them.

Luckily for me it worked out and i now have the best client i could ever hope for.

I just hope he starts tipping soon.

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Living it up in northwest New Mexico for a week and a half. Plenty to report once I can charge my myriad of digital toys. In the mean time, no trip to the area has really begun until you stop in to see the Straits in Taos!

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As many of you probably know (and maybe even applied for) Howler Bros. recently took applications for their new Howler Bros. Privateers program which will see two lucky folks driving this murdered out RAM 2500 cruising from retail show to hidden waters and more with the singular goal of spreading the Howler Bros. love.

I was fortunate enough to be invited to a happy hour the other night here in Austin at the Mean Eyed Cat for the christening of the  fresh ride and the chance to meet the winning duo of Drew Ruff and David Mucklow from Colorado and all i can say is that the future of turning folks on to Howler Bros. is in good hands.

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It’s no secret that (seemingly) opposing opposites make for a great story and it’s a sure bet that the combination of the two friends from Colorado will only add to the legend. Drew is the one half that sports the clean cut look while David enjoys the long hair, trucker hats, and rock and roll t-shirt, the classic odd couples. Not that this should be mistaken for their stereotypical personalities mind you, but it does make two longtime friends instantly recognizable, especially if you see them bouncing out of a thugged out van racing each other to fishy waters.

If you do run into these cats out there in the wild, be sure to to turn them onto some fish. Who knows, in return they might allow you to carve some doughnuts in the Howlermobile or at least toss some Howler schwag your way.

Bon voyage guys!

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Ever since taking up a fly rod, and especially since starting this blog, i’ve been asked on a regular basis what it is about fly fishing that grabs me by the gut and keeps me so passionate and enveloped in it. The responses are usually along the lines of connecting with nature, or the tug on the line awakening the inner hunter in me while the careful release reveals the compassionate side of humanity, and so on and so on.

Yet the reason i almost never mention is the simple fact that i like to wander,  probably because the word itself has so many bad connotations. Even Merriam-Webster defines “wander” as;  1) to go astray morally or 2) to lose normal mental contact, and while i might in fact lose myself mentally and enjoy it, it’s the third definition that i can relate to, 3) to move about without a fixed course, aim, or goal”.

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With my family in Germany this whole month, and the store still far from opening after the flood, i’ve had a lot of options to get out and wander my heart out. The only limitations have been the incredible number of storms and the high flows they’ve brought with them, making being in the right spot at the right time something akin to shooting craps.

Waters as vast and varied as Canyon Lake, the Narrows, and Barton Creek have all been explored by foot and paddle with varying levels of success and consternation. While i don’t feel that i know them any better now than i did going in, i was hoping to share some thoughts with you in hopes of getting you on the right water at the right time.

Barton Creek: As even an occasional reader will know, Barton Creek is hands down my favorite water to fish, bar none. However, since the drought started in 2010 it’s been a fickle mistress, occasionally flowing with raging torrents of emotion, but usually dehydrated and depressed.

I’m happy to say that at least for now (and hopefully all this year) that is not the case. Barton Creek is back in form, flowing and fishing better than it has in a long time. In addition, because of all the rain, it’s now bordered and framed in trees and plants that seem to be glowing in Technicolor.

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While you can undoubtedly wade many of its most productive stretches (between the Hill of Life and Sculpture Falls), the ideal way to find the fish and avoid the crowds is to float her. Having done so numerous times over the last few weeks i can tell you this:

1) You’ll catch a lot of fish, maybe not huge fish, but a lot of them.

2) You don’t need anything fancy, even $20 raft will do.

3) You will experience one of the most amazing experiences you will ever have in Austin.

Note: While the Creek can safely be floated and fished while running up to 250CFS, beyond that you really need to be armed with the proper gear, experience and advice. Get more information on floating Barton Creek at Southwest Paddler.

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The Narrows: In all the years i’ve fished this spot near Spicewood Springs, where the Colorado meanders into Lake Travis, it was so narrow you could easily skip a rock across it, and at one point could wade across without even wetting your knees. Suffice to say, that is not the case anymore, the river is “gone” and the Narrows has returned to being an extension of Lake Travis again.

Of all my favorite spots, this is the one that has changed the most. The boulders that once indicated deep pools have been submerged along with the riffles and runs that i knew so well. Two of the most prolific gar fishing spots i’ve ever discovered are now indistinguishable from the rest of the water, buried under untold feet of rainwater. The gars are still there, i spotted many of them hitting the surface, but with so much room to maneuver they always seemed to be out of casting range, something that wasn’t a problem when the water was so low even a novice could cast from one bank to the other.

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Adding to the frustration of being in the process of getting skunked was the fact that speed boats, and jet skis were constantly speeding up and down the waters directly over my shoulder sending wakes my way that had me feeling like i’d been dumped into a washing machine to be agitated. Still, i did have an ultralight buzz me which was a first, and actually pretty cool.

Note: This place can be amazing, but i definitely recommend taking deep sinking lines and hitting it up on a weekday, not a weekend (like i did).

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Canyon Lake: While others have had incredible luck on this flooded lake working the submerged grasses, my luck has been anything but, at least as far as fishing goes. On the other hand, having an immense island to yourself (Canyon Park peninsula, now cut off from the mainland by the risen water level) and setting up camp at submerged picnic spots without a single soul around is a pretty good way to spend a fish-less day. Just the simple fact that you can stalk the shallow waters amidst oaks and submerged buildings and signs, feeling like some avant-garde fly fisherman wading and casting through the set of Waterworld is more than enough to return at least a time or two.

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While i’ve enjoyed the aimlessness of the last few weeks, traveling from spot to spot on nothing more than a whim, i look forward to being rejoined with my family and hopefully soon being back in the store and having some parameters placed on my days off. Maybe it’s just my incredible love for my family and the need for the routine of work, but i do know this, it’s hard to appreciate being able to color outside of the lines if you’re looking at a blank page.

Lesson learned.

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