It started with the stag.
After writing my previous article, wherein i found myself relating with a baby deer being chased by a coyote (read it here) i set out for Barton Creek (my local haven) to try and re-discover my passion for fly fishing as well as a sense of self that has been missing for a while.
It was a glorious day punctuated with hiking, swimming, sunfish and bass. Late in the day, on one of the few uncrowded stretches, with the sun beginning to dip behind the limestone cliffs, i was switching flies when i heard what i thought was the splash of children or dogs coming downstream from around the bend. Looking up, and expecting some minor nuisance, whether two legged or four, i practically lost my breath as a giant stag, taller than me, charged energetically down the main channel of the creek, just a few feet away, sporting a rack that looked more like an elaborate chandelier than a set of horns. After passing by, it quickly stopped 20 yards downstream and glanced back at me as if noticing me for the first time, and then suddenly it bolted into the thicket.
It felt like the most dramatic, and staged signal life could throw at me. It couldn’t have been any more obvious, i needed to have the renewed confidence of that stag. No more being chased around by doubt and coyotes.
Hoisting the YOLO board onto the car i suddenly noticed that i was casually (and curiously) taking my time in my driveway. The plan was to hit the lower Colorado near Smithville, a place where i seem to be one of the only people that continually strikes out on this reportedly fertile water. Add to that the fact that i’ve had the worst luck on this stretch of water (four broken rods, one broken reel, and a broken Hobie Mirage drive) and it’s not to surprising that every bone in my body was subconsciously trying to keep me at home, far from broken rod tips and getting skunked. But recalling the Lesson of the Buck, i set off, psyching myself up the entire way and trying to convince myself that this time would be different.
In classic fashion, three quarters of the trip involved paddling against the current just to enjoy a disproportionate amount of time floating and casting into the shadows of the bank. I paddled earnestly until my arms turned to rubber and i couldn’t paddle anymore, and located a nice gravel beach that though devoid of shade, allowed me to rest.
On the paddle up i had caught nary a site of any fish other than the ubiquitous red horse, but upon launching downstream i immediately spotted drum, carp and bass working the waters around me. But with the current strong (being released at Tom Miller dam) I floated a spell before stumbling on some slack water where i immediately spotted a swarm of gar schooling around in the shadows.
As many of you know i am a long time aficionado of the gar, but it had been months since i’d had the pleasure of dancing with this scaly beast. Much like fishing in general, i’d been starting to doubt my devotion, but all of that was about to change. With the first cast a gar powered past a few others and cocked its head to sink its teeth into the fly, jerking it back and forth and quickly applying tension on my line. As the gar raced with my line and went airborne over and over, the passion for fishing sparked and emanated throughout my body for the first time in weeks.
That passion only grew as gar after gar was caught and released, with me eventually finding myself with the most foreign of thoughts, that “ten plus gar was enough” and moving onto something different. It turned out that a large white popper (seen in the title bar after hours of torture) would be the ticket to bass after bass. Any cast that involved that fly, and a little structure on the bank seemed to result in dishoveled water, a brief second of chaos, and a Guadalupe bass coming to hand full of vim and vigor.
Floating downstream and landing fish after fish surrounded by the sound of nothing but the breeze and the call of birds was unreal. It felt good to be back in a place with passion and purpose, a sphere where i felt competent, and comfortable. It also felt good to be alert and present in nature and in tune to all the glory it provided.
Mostly though, it felt good to be the stag splashing down the stream of passion with a ebullient smile on my face, and no coyotes in pursuit.
I was pretty excited about the release of the new iPhone until i found out it was “kinda water resistant”, now came in black (BORING!), and that they took away the headphone jack.
Then i was bummed.
That was until i opened my email today and read the following (from Howler Bros.)
Howler HQ is moving to another location and we need to clean house before we open our doors! This Thursday, Friday, and Saturday we are offering an assortment of never before worn gear starting at $5 with nothing over $25! Hats, jackets, tees, fleeces, shorts and more! Some classics, some never released items! You won’t know what you will find until you come on down and see for yourself!
This does NOT apply to any online purchases. NO returns NO discounts NO checks!
If you live anywhere near Austin (as mentioned, it’s in person only) and appreciate surfing and flyfishing inspired clothing you are really going to want to be there or this. You can bet that i’ll be one of the first people through the door tomorrow, see you there.
It was an odd scene, on the Pedernales the other day, one that was accentuated by quickly moving bits of muscle, flesh and fur rapidly parting otherwise tranquil and stoic plants. Within seconds i caught sight of a young, spindly leg deer, being pursued with intense energy by a coyote, each of them coming within feet of me in the heat of the chase, apparently both of them more concerned about the possible future between the two of them than some dude waist deep in water waving a stick.
As the deer dove in the river and swam for the opposite shore, the coyote turning and retracing it’s own footsteps, i couldn’t help but feel not only astonishment at having witnessed this raw nature so closely, but also a feeling of intense empathy for the deer.
I’ve been that deer for the last few months, constantly alert and anxious, feeling that uneasy feeling that something that wanted to do me (and my psyche) in was right around the corner.
Maybe it’s the fact that the summer around here always seems to drag on far to long. Maybe it’s that i spent to much time on trout waters in Colorado and New Mexico this summer, knee deep in cool waters and cooler nights. Maybe it’s the house renovation that has turned my life upside down? Maybe it’s the years of drought followed by a seemingly endless onslaught of water.
Regardless, lately i’ve had this nagging feeling that all the focus and energy i’ve had in the past almost exclusively for the art of angling is now being spread thin amongst many other interests such as snorkeling, biking, hiking, photography and paddle boarding. It’s a little unsettling for a person like me, an addictive personality used to having a narrow focus for years at a time (music, skating, surfing, etc.), but i think at the ripe age of 45 i might actually be starting to grow into my own skin and realize that my identity (and obsessiveness) doesn’t have to be tied up in the same thing.
Fear not though, i know the passion is there. I have a feeling it’s just calmly treading water like so many freshwater fish around here, waiting until the soul sucking heat of summer and the flesh carnival it brings to the water passes and normalcy is restored.
Leased Access Areas Open for Guadalupe Bass Anglers
AUSTIN—Anglers targeting prized Guadalupe bass now have greater access to prime fishing along three Central Texas rivers, thanks to temporary leased access agreements between private landowners and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD).
The leased access sites are located on the lower Colorado, Llano and San Marcos rivers and were made possible with funding through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program. These rivers are known for their excellent Guadalupe bass fishing and, in particular, the lower Colorado between Austin and LaGrange is considered by many to be the pre-eminent trophy fishery for this species. The world record Guadalupe bass (3.71 pounds) was caught here in March 2014. TPWD currently has three leased access sites and two Paddling Trails in this stretch.
The leases provide anglers with access between 30 minutes before daylight and 30 minutes after dusk. Anglers will be able to use the properties for bank fishing and to launch nonmotorized watercraft such as rafts, kayaks and canoes for the purpose of fishing.
For additional information and directions to these leased fishing access areas and others throughout the state, including site specific restrictions, visit http://tpwd.texas.gov/fishboat/fish/recreational/rivers/.
Additional public access sites on the lower Colorado River can be found here: http://www.lcra.org/parks/Documents/2013-05-15-River-Users-Guide.pdf
Information on TPWD Paddling Trails can be found here: http://tpwd.texas.gov/fishboat/boat/paddlingtrails/inland/
Thank you Jesse Reynolds for the tipoff to this awesome news!
It’s that time again! The fine folks at Howler Bros. have unleashed their fall of 2016 collection and once again they nailed it.
Now it just needs to cool down so i can justify adding another Howler jacket to the arsenal!
It’s official, the road trip has begun and by now three of my co-workers should be knee deep in trout waters along the northern New Mexico border. Part of me is a little jealous for sure, but the rest of me is so happy to be able to guide others towards their own fishing nirvana aremed with resources galore. I hope all goes well, that the fish show them a little mercy and that they’ll share their stories when they get back.
Just a couple of days ago This is Fly went live with their new issue and the timing couldn’t have been better since i’ve currently been laid up with some sort of illness that has kept me in bed for days. During the few hours a day i haven’t been sleeping and dreaming of simply getting out of the house, i’ve been slowly consuming this issue on propped up pillows. As always it’s a great read, but a particular write up on spey fishing legend Tom Larimer was especially interesting to me since i’d been lucky enough to fish the Deschutes on a guided trip within years ago (thanks to the efforts of my dad and brother). The steelhead that he help put me on and that trip in general are still one of my favorite fishing memories (click here for the story).
Be sure to check out TIF, and prepare to get stoked. As for me, now that i’ve read it front to back, i need to pay the clinic a visit.