For all the joyous things about family life (and there are many) the one disconcerting thing you learn REALLY quickly is that personal time is rare, special and unique and simply can not be squandered away on idle chores like paying bills, mowing the grass or showing up for jury duty.

Suffice to say that when you get two angling parents together (myself and my good friend Nathan) and grant them a handful of hours to peck away at, you’re going to bear witness to a couple of folks, hunched and hectic, sucking the very marrow out of life and breakfast tacos as well.

 photo by Nathan Peck

After meeting up and picking up said tacos, plus the usual rations of jerky, wine and beer at Graceland Grocery and discussing his need to be home by early afternoon, we pulled into Pedernales State Park practically humming with anticipation of a beautiful day spent in perfect flows and perfectly cool weather. After a previous trip here trying to lug around a 3WT (bass, sunfish) and a 6WT (gar, drum) i settled on just taking the 3WT and resigning myself to enjoying catching mostly smaller fish, unencombered by both a second rod and the expectation of catching something huge.

Within minutes of making our way down the rocky pathway and trammel crossing Nathan managed to use a size 12 Wooly Bugger to hook into a  small but spastic bass that quite simply was not excited about being punked by a papa. This scene unfolded time and time again as Nathan caught bass after bass interspersed with the occasional sunfish.

For the most part i was somehow coming up empty as Nathan managed to bring in a small collection of fish, despite the fact that i was tying on progressively smaller flies in an effort to increase my odds of landing anything…anything at all.

photo by Nathan Peck

Working our way to the far eastern side of the park, i wandered slightly ahead and found a deep pool, barely wider than a kiddie pool, but still 6 feet deep or so, with two 20 pound drum hanging out, hugging the bottom, little more than dark shadows shapeshifting far down in the quickly moving water.

Arrow casting upstream amongst the tight wall of cypress and wishing for the streamer to sink faster than it physically could, i watched as the sculpin pattern quickly moved passed their heads before a small mysterious dragon, radiant in a coat of grey and yellows shot up from the dark depths and slammed the fly without hesitation, fully intent on making quick work of my fly.

With a nimble 3WT connecting me two the fish and a healthier than normal flow, the catfish ran amok with added leverage, intent on snapping every inch of tippet that would result in its immediate freedom. Steering it away from rough edged rocks and snarls of downed cypress limbs, eventually i escorted it to the net while simultaneously yelling for Nate to come and hopefully capture this this odd catch on film.

After having Nate take the ubiquitous photo, i quickly released the catfish and surrendered the spot to him in order to see what else could be found. Within a few casts he quickly hooked up with yet another in a menagerie of bass that once again brought smiles, whoops and hollers like any take really should.

Glancing at the time, Nate mentioned a little hesitantly that we needed to start heading back so that fatherly duties could be attended to. Had it been any of the numerous recent days of fishing this news would have likely have been followed with hand wringing, nervous shifting, or at the very least some profanities muttered quietly under my breath.

Instead i glanced downstream towards the possible future, glanced back upstream at the past and thought about the many fish and unique characters that had created our day, and finally shrugged honestly and contently.

“Sure! Let’s go.” I was able to say happily without even a trace of regret or bitterness. After all, it’s easy to be at peace with the present when the past has been so generous to you and your friends. Carpe diem indeed.