Skinny water, mangroves, and fish that hit like rockets: what’s not to love about this great video by Livit Films?!

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Chapter One:  I Am a Snowflake

With my float coming to an end, Shady Grove and the Oktoberfisch event it was hosting were just a few paddles to my left, i remembered the small creek nearby that i had noticed from shore earlier in the day.  Strangely enough, i hadn’t seen anyone paddle up it, likely because they were all after Guadalupe bass, and it was pretty obvious that this backwater creek with its swampy, trailer trash feel was a little to low brow for the Guadalupe, but perfect for one of my passions, gar.

Paddling up the small tributary i was starting to feel like a unique adventurous soul, scouting odd waters for even odder fish.  It was becoming pretty obvious to me that i was a special, unique snowflake until i rounded the corner and saw a familiar figure on a Diablo.

“Gabe?”  i asked with disbelief.

“What’s up man?  I’m looking for gar!”  Gabe replied as my ego, and it’s corresponding snowflake melted in the Texas sun.

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Chapter Two:  Behold, the Public Access

It had been years since i’d been out to the magical spring fed waters of the South Llano.  Back then it seemed the same as most other rivers in the Hill Country, amazing water and fishing, but questionable and sometimes outright scary access, usually with super friendly hand painted signs with uplifting messages like “We shoot first and ask questions later!

The reason (other than the fishing) i was back was the Fredericksburg Fly Fisher Club’s annual Oktoberfisch festival.  In addition to the usual vendor booths, stellar classes, films, etc. they were running shuttles as part of the event.  Locating a driver and loading my boat, i hopped in the trucks cab and prepared myself to brave some sort of scene where i might be trying to slip my boat into the water as dueling banjos played in the background.

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Being accustomed (after 11 years) to the Texas mentality when it comes to water access, i could never have dreamed up what i saw instead.  To the casual observer, it was a bridge with some exotic features, but in reality it was so much more.  This was a temple to Poseidon, a concrete homage to Tiberius.  This was a structure for any in central Texas that feel that the water is the most enjoyable respite from the brutality of the heat, and the suffocating oppression of the day-to-day.  This my friends was a bridge built with the explicit purpose of providing the public with not only access to the river via the steps and boat ramp, but also the ability to float through it easily if coming from the upstream direction, intent on downstream missions and fish.  In short, this is the fly fishers Xanadu, i highly recommend it friends.

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Chapter Three:  Six Degrees of Pat Cohen

After being shocked to the core by running into Gabriel Langley (of the blog TheFlyRiverTurtle) on the creek, we hung out for most of the evenings Oktoberfisch festivities, all the while running into various friends that were awesome to catch up with.  After food and wine (for me) we agreed to float the upper stretches the next day and try to make our way to the source of the South Llano, hundreds of interconnected springs and buffeted by a wide and inspiring staircase of falls.

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Hooking up that next day, we discussed the plan and headed out for what i imagined to be the an endless tug of bass on my line.  Surprisingly, all i could manage were average size sunfish after average size sunfish.  Eventually i did manage to land a smallish bass (above) in a backwater area, but clearly the fishing wasn’t going to be the highlight of the day, no matter how well-intentioned it was.

While the scenery was drop dead gorgeous, with long pools joined by fast flowing tiny water containing herons and egrets, as well as limestone cliffs standing at attention along the river, laced with buzzards and hawks, it was the camaraderie that really made the day complete.  As any usual reader knows, i’m a fairly anxious personality that loves being around mellow folks, and Gabe was that in spades.  Even though we never made it to the falls we were looking for, we had a great time on the water, alternating between tons of private space and close-knit paddling conversation.

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Taking out our boats, after hours of paddling and chatting about our mutual appreciation for all gar, Gabe blew my mind by showing a bunch of flies that he had gotten from the infamous up and coming fly tier Pat Cohen.  If you’ve never come across one of the many articles on this phenomenal talent, let me set the scene.  Shaved head.  Big burly beard.  Massive spacers in ear.  By all appearances he should be in a punk rock band, but luckily the lack of conformity he emits is not only personal, it’s also evident in his insane and individualistic fly tying skills (check out www.rusuperfly.com).

Looking through Gabe’s box of Pat’s flies was like stumbling through the Louvere in waders.  There was so much beauty and brilliance it was almost overwhelming.  High on this fly tying art, i was blown away when Gabe gave me a gar fly, tied by Pat.  I’m not sure if it will ever be used since it’s a freakin PROTOTYPE GAR FLY FROM PAT VIA GABE, but until i decide, it will live on my straw fedora fishing hat where it receives praises daily from folk that don’t even know what it’s beauty is capable of.

All in all the entire weekend was unreal, an absolutely mind blowing experience, and one i had just for paddling up a creek i thought nobody else had, looking for a fish i thought nobody else wanted.

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If you want to go:

Closest town:  Junction, Texas which got its name from the fact that it sits at the junction of the South Llano and the North Llano rivers.

Fly shop: the closest is The County Flyfisher Shop in Fredericksburg, Texas which is a unique shop experience in and of itself (in a good way.)

Campgrounds: Morgan Shady Park sits on the bank of the river in Junction and provides both tent and RV camping.  South Llano River State Park is a few miles up river and provides tent and RV camping as well but with the addition of endless amounts of hiking trails to explore.

Other visitor information: Texas Parks and Wildlife in partnership with the town of Junction have done an amazing job of supplying not just access to an amazing river, but clean, safe and stress free access.  Check out TPWD’s paddling trail site for more information on paddling this river as well as many others in Texas.  

I also highly recommend picking up a copy of Texas River Bum’s “South Llano River Pocket Guide” that is an indispensable guide to this majestic river.

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Like to keep the sun off of your eyes when you’re hauling in a five pound bass or trout?  Then enter for your chance to win a collection of six hats from Orvis, Teva, Patagonia, Mountain Khaki, Yeti and Towee Boats!

Super simple rules:

1)  Leave a comment to this post letting us know where you’ll sport them if you win.

2)  The entry dates are 10/26/14 – 10/30/14 (at midnight).

3)  The winner will be chose by random number generator on 10/31 and announced that morning.

Please feel free to share this with your friends!  And as always we appreciate your help in getting us one step closer to making this blog a full time passion!

 

 

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Every one of us has that special body of water nearby that we covet as though it were an original and obscure limited edition pressing on virgin vinyl by our favorite band.  For me and many of my fellow local anglers it’s Barton Creek here in Austin, TX.

With cooler temperatures and school back in session (a big deal when you are located in the same town as the University of Texas), the party crowds are thinning out and the local waters are quickly falling back into the hands of the curious and adventurous. Surely this isn’t limited to Texas, i imagine it’s a time of the year that many anglers look forward to, an actual chance for undisturbed waters and fish after months of trying to avoid the cooler toting crowds.

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In an effort to avoid the throngs of beer swilling revelers and their migraine inducing drum circles, i stayed away from one of my favorite spots for most of the summer.  Just the other day though i shuffled on down the Hill of Life (below), cautiously keeping both ears alert for any sound of off beat djembes echoing though the valley.  Fortunately all i heard was the beautiful white noise of water tumbling over rock and onto (and into) itself,  a sonic affirmation that the creek was alive and flowing.

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The fishing was good, with a few healthy and zealous bass putting a hardy bend in my 2WT.  Not  neccesarily the kind of fishing day that might expand from humble and fun to epic and legendary in my mind as that day fades into the past.  Really though it doesn’t matter, the fish were just playing a secondary role, the main draw of the day being the ambiance provided by a wealth of cool air, cool water, lush greenery and the complete absence of humanity and its debris.

Solitude, water, white noise and fish minutes from home.  It surely can feel like nirvana, but really it’s just fall on your favorite small water.  Time to rig the lightweight rod and reacquaint yourself with yours.

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If you have any inclination to get insider information on the inner business workings of fly fishing, i heavily recommend checking out Angling Trade, a fascinating read to see what’s going on behind the scenes and what new products lie down the road.

In the most recent issue there is a great article entitled “How Fly-Fishing Videos Can (MUST) Get Better” by Marshall Bisset.  There are some valid annoyances with the quality of fly fishing videos in this article that i can completely agree with, but more importantly there are also some incredibly insightful tips that if adhered to can help us all get beyond the 30 minute video of uncle Bob false casting on You Tube.

Shortly after reading this article i happened upon “Fixed for Fly Fishing” by Movi-Media which i personally think is one of the finest videos i’ve seen yet, and felt that this was another notch in the evolutionary development of our sport / hobby.  Check out both the article and the video and see if you agree?

P.S.  To Hudson and Chris at www.shopdundeecycles.com, this is the video we’ve been waiting for. Bikes and rods unite!

loop-to-loopartwork by Uli Fluss

On my recent trip to Colorado i was replacing my leader and redoing the connection when i was abruptly stopped by the guide and informed that i was doing it all wrong.

What the…!?!?

Turns out that one of the most common mistakes guides see is the one i was performing, running the tag end of the leader through the loop of the line and then back through the loop of the leader, resulting in an obtrusive connection that has a hard time working its way through the guides causing hang ups that can at worst can result in a broken rod tip (once), or at the very least a lost fish when reeled in close (many times).

Double check yourself using the above illustration and make sure you’re doing it right before you get out there and learn the hard way that you’ve got it all wrong.  After all, nobody wants to look like a chump, especially to a lost fish (or a guide).

Check out RioProducts website to see an additional image on the right and wrong way to make the connection.

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The folks at Southern Culture on the Fly have once again unleashed a digital juggernaut with the brand spanking new issue #13.  Known amongst fly fishers in the know as “The White Issue”  it’s a great mash up from the crew and hopefully doesn’t signify the beginning of the end as the Beatles famed album did (knocking on wood, Norwegian wood at that).

P.S. They also have a sweet contest going on over at their Facebook site where you can win a rod and much more, check it out!