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Category Archive:   Reviews


I’ve been pouring over my copy of Texas River Bum’s “Blanco River Pocket Guide” for  a couple of weeks now, marveling at the wealth of information crammed between the covers and wanted to share a few observations about an amazing piece of work.

The first thing that  struck me initially was the attention to detail and information that the book offers the reader. Not being of an analytic mind myself, i’m a little in awe of how TRB managed to compile and sift though mounds of GPS coordinates, portage information, flows, places of interest, etc., that were likely being jotted down or entered while trying to navigate the river, to come up with a cohesive work. Fortunately all of this data has been translated beautifully into easy to understand maps and an overall design that makes it simple to find what you need whether you’re on the water already or just looking for it.

Secondly, this book really opens up the river to those, like myself, that simply thought of the Blanco as inaccessable or even inhospitable to the public. With this book you’ll find a river that precisely because of these reasons, holds some of the most tranquil, clean, and pristine waters that the Hill Country has to offer. (Be nice, quiet and pick up a piece of trash or two and you just might find the owners are actually (gasp) friendly!)

And although the book doesn’t give EXACT information on fishing the river, with any amount of experience fishing the Hill Country you’ll be able to take the information contained within to get you on a good spot in no time at all. (i.e. spots like the one where i caught my four foot gar or lost a 21″ spotted bass…aarrghh.)

So if you’re bummed about the tubes and the debris that bloom on our local rivers and creeks during the summer, let me suggest a reprieve. The hard work has all been done by the TRB crew, all you need to do is pick up a copy, choose a spot, unload your craft of choice (or wade if the spot is right) and you might just might be surprised to find a little slice of solitude with some amazing fishing to boot.

You can get your copy at Gruene Outfitters, Sportsman’s Finest, MOC Kayaks, Living Waters, Hill Country Outfitters or online at Texas River Bum.

image from texasriverbum.com 

“I just want to say one word to you. Just…one word. Are you listening?”

“Pockets.”

Cruising the Pedernales recently, i had the reoccurring feeling that whoever invented the Guayabera MUST have been a fisherman. Years ago i picked up a handful of these shirts up at a Goodwill for a couple bucks apiece, about a year before the whole lounge scene hit (remember that?) and the price of these shirts suddenly skyrocketed, turning them into more of a commodity than a functional piece of clothing. The shirts i picked up over a decade ago have started to wear out to the point that i’m almost embarrassed to even fish in them, and that’s saying more than you can imagine. But every time i’d hit the water in one of these shirts over the last few years, i would just shake my head and wonder why no fishing company had realized that the Guayabera was practically invented for the fly fisher, i mean, four pockets? Genius! Who wants to wear a vest, especially in our heat, when your clothing can do the work for you.

Photo Courtesy of Howler Bros.

So imagine my delight when Austin based Howler Bros. sent me a package of clothing to try out and it included their new technical Howler Guayabera ($75). It felt incredible to see that finally someone with more ambition and drive than me had seen the light, and brought this wonderful idea to fruition.

Anxious to test it out, i headed straight to my stomping grounds, the Pedernales. As i walked down the trail to the Upper Pedernales i was amazed at how the cotton / polyester blend was able to handle the mid 90’s heat. The cotton provides the soft texture that makes it so pleasurable to wear while the polyester provides the wicking and quick drying that would come in hand shortly. As someone who sells, and owns, gear from many major outdoor vendors, i have to say that the comfort of Howler Bros. blend was absolutely up there with the best. Just enough polyester to give it all the technical benefits, with more than enough cotton to let it breathe and keep it from feeling like you have plastic bag wrapped around your body.

Photo Courtesy of Howler Bros.

The four pockets are JUST the right size too, not to small and not so big that they look silly if unused. Sunglasses, a point and shoot camera, some tippet, forceps and a small box of flies were all accommodated within the various pockets. The small details such as the descrete ventilation on the back, the spare button, and the Howler Bros. logo on the bottom left pocket all added to the charm of this sweet piece.

While i was there, strolling around the limestone and snapping photos of the cracked earth, and posing for my camera, the skies suddenly parted and a deluge pureed forth from the sky soaking me, the terrain, and my shirt in much needed rain. Thanks to the hybrid blend, by the time the rain died down and i made it to my car, i was dry enough that i continued to fish for three more hours in absolute comfort.

Howler Bros. has it dialed, and they obviously know the secret…pockets. Four years from now when everyone else is manufacturing their lame technical variation on this shirt, know that you were clued in before everyone else.

P.S. I should also mention that when i made it home that night, my wife (very stylish) actually told me i looked sexy in the shirt…SWEET! Now i just need more color options to keep her interested.