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Up until the end of this year, a lot of the things that i once took as givens were suddenly and strangely turned on their heads. Every thing from giant retail chains closing up shop to media / business tycoons being elected to office seemed to be a giant pie in the face to the reality that i’ve known. In the world i’ve known since being a cognizant toddler big businesses got bigger and politics was the exclusive sandbox reserved for career politicians, that’s just the way it was.

The biggest example of this new found reality though has been the winter here in central Texas, or more accurately the lack of it. Every season for the last decade at least, winter in these parts has meant being resigned to fishing trout stocked waters in waders and thermal outerwear as the sunfish, bass, etc., are more or less inclined to hibernate until March. But as noted previously, this “winter” has been anything but the norm.

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The first sign that things were “off” was when i realized that after fishing for trout on the Guadalupe twelve times, i only needed waders on two back to back days, other than that it’s been nothing but wet wading these cold waters on days that i honestly was overheating in a short sleeve guayabera. The second sign that strange things were afoot, was when i realized that i had caught almost as many sunfish as trout in the same waters on the same flies. (As a side note, in years past i might catch one or two sunfish for every 50 or so trout caught over a three month period.)

Curious to explore the limits of this excruciatingly warm winter (80˚ in winter?!) i hiked down to Barton Creek (my local warm water sanctuary) recently with a Tenkara rod in hand to test the limits of warm water fishing in January as well as trying out Tenkara fishing for the first time.

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Settling in on a favorite gravel bar i worked my way as far into the deep pocket as i could given the uncharacteristically high flows of 200+ CFS. The curiosity paid off though as i landed sunfish after sunfish out of several adjoining pockets, with every one of them insatiably inhaling small clouser minnows and putting a deep bend in the simple and nimble Tenkara rod.

Truth be told, i was pretty happy fishing that rod, on local waters for sunfish, but still in the back of mind i knew it wasn’t right, after all this was the sort of fishing that should be happening the other nine months of the year. I guess all of this could be the harbinger of the future, where things we know to be true no longer have any basis in reality. My hope though is that this all is some strange anomaly, some sort of massive mind fuck, and that things will soon sort themselves out and we can have at least a few things that we’re sure of. Personally all i really want is a clear definition between the two seasons we have here in central Texas, a cold winter of trout and months of brutal heat, sunfish, bass and more.

As for the rest? I care immensely, but you have to start somewhere…as for me i’ll start with the seasons.

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Running a blog takes an inordinate amount of time and energy, there is no doubt. So time-consuming in fact is it that fly fishing blogs, once as abundant as tricos, have quickly fallen like a spent hatch, victims of time, responsibility and sometimes simple exhaustion. After all, there’s not a lot of reasons to spend hours almost every night creating graphics, editing photos, and pouring over carefully chosen words other than the simple passion to create something (hopefully) new and unique.

Every once in a while though there is something that re-stokes the coals, causes a smile, and gives you the renewed energy to keep on going. Today that was a slightly thick, nondescript envelope all the way from France that was soaked in interesting, hand scrawled text. Inside was a stack of awesome stickers from the creative folks at www.rivière.com. I highly recommend checking out their site and if (like me) you don’t speak french, use Google translate to convert the site in to words you’ll understand (like this).

Obviously passion transcends cultures, borders and language, and for that i’m eternally grateful.

Merci amis! Très cool!

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Note: This post is not about fishing, at least not in the normal sense. Instead it’s a love note to two wonderful people, a rock, two very special cypress, a river and the fleeting signs of it’s inhabitants.

This Thanksgiving i was dumb founded to have my wife insist on an adventure instead of a Thanksgiving meal (which was especially odd since she’s an AMAZING cook that really enjoys it).  While the thought of her mouth watering dishes were mouth watering, the chance to get out with her and my son on a perfect day (70 degrees and sunny, slight breeze) was far to enticing, especially since i’d been sprawled out on the couch and sick for days (thus the lack of posts).

Packing up the car for all the necessary items for an evening of hiking and picnicking, we made a b-line for our favorite spot at Pedernales State Park to celebrate an evening of thanks. Hiking in to our special limestone island we made camp and laid out the Thanksgiving dinner: cornichons, artichoke dip, truffle cheese, hummus, sea salt crackers, pinot grigio infused sausage, blue cheese, and a mixture of veggies washed down with sips of Prosecco. As enjoyable as the food truly was, it was overshadowed by the all of  the reds, oranges and yellows that the tress and my wife were decorated in, announcing with great vibrancy that fall truly was here.

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With the sun setting, and the day drawing to a close, thoughts turned to the hike back as my wife leaned over and told me to “go fish”. Knowing that by the time i strung up the rod and dealt with the odds and ends as well as hiking to a good spot the day would be far gone, i instead asked if we could hike back and sit at the top of the stairs a little bit, where all of the falls and the pools would be readily viewable.

Striking a meditative pose on the brick semicircle, i watched the lower pool intensely, noticing every small bass taking bugs, gar catching their breath, and largemouth chasing baitfish to the surface before inhaling them in a breath of gluttony. I eyed the likely spots predicting what sort of fish would strike on various parts of the water and found myself strangely correct more often than not.

My wife, concerned that i felt like i was missing out softly asked me again if i wanted to go down and fish.

“I already have.” I responded, and we strapped on the packs and headed back to the car.

It was true, i felt like i’d experienced a wonderful day of fishing, without ever once even wetting a line.

It’s odd, but occasionally the best fishing is when you’re not even fishing.

Sometimes just spotting that small ripple, two hundred yards away, that nobody else noticed, it’s concentric rings expanding and fading in perfect formation is enough to make you smile.

Thank you to my wife and son for the absolute best Thanksgiving ever.

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The feature length video “Hooké Gaspé” from Hooké just came out, full of steelhead, trout, trials and tribulations. Check it out (with captions) and live vicariously through this awesome crew!