Oktoberfest Grand Champion Beer Crowned Last Night at the Fly Bar

| October 26, 2016 | 0 Comments

Fly Bar Oktoberfest Grand Champion

A sampling of the Fly Bar Oktoberfest sampling that occurred last night here in Denton, Texas. Seasons change, beers change. Go with the flow.

The Results Are In

Last night at the Fly Bar, we were able to sample a few of the dozens of Oktoberfest beers readily available in North Texas, and the new Fly Bar Grand Champion Oktoberfest went to, no big surprise, a German beer.

I have been sampling the 2016 Oktoberfest beers for a few weeks now, and I have to say of all the seasonal “varietals,” the attempts and successful Oktoberfests are my favorite varietal flavor. It’s probably the fact that October is my birthday month, a month of undeniable change in North Texas and now a month to remember what was happening just a year ago – and not forget.

Although birthday number 55, double nickels, was yesterday, I feel like a one-year-old in so many ways. It’s impossible to tell whether this website adventure will exist, whether I, whether we will exist in four more years, BUT it is a great feeling to celebrate the distance of a year away from cancer (all clear now) and the scorched earth treatments that seemed to go on forever (along with the side effects). Time seemed to move so incredibly slow through those days, and now, merely a year later, it seems like a single moment in time long ago. Strange how time changes fractionally as we age, isn’t it?

Whistle Post Pilot Point Texas

Want to check out a destination microbrewery that is an easy drive from Dallas or Fort Worth? How about hitting the Whistle Post or the distillery (side-by-side) in Pilot Point, Texas? And it is so close to the world famous carp flats of Lake Ray Roberts.

Back to beer. Locally, I managed to get to the new microbrewery in Pilot Point, TX, last Sunday to sample their Oktoberfest. It was good to get out, tour the new brewery and visit with friends and brewers. Their Oktoberfest will probably be better next year, but they’re off to a good start. These really are heady times for Texas microbrews … I never thought I would see the day (Texas had so many micros popping up everywhere)!

I would say the competition was serious for the Grand Champion this year, but it was really an excuse to try about ten different varieties this month, and those that didn’t make it to last night were already eliminated.

Our winner of the first ever FBGC Oktoberfest is one that future competitors will always be measured against, as has been the case long before this contest was ever a gleam in my eye. The Ayinger Oktober Fest-Marzen ran away with the informal voting and never looked back. Since when have we known Germans to look back anyway? This has the solid, clean crisp taste of a finely crafted beer, but with a taste honoring the name. Nothing left behind, to stick to your gums, and when it’s gone, you just know it’s right.

The US versions of Oktoberfest beers seem to go out of their way to try hard and leave an impression. That can be good, and it can be bad. But we do need to give a shout out to two “US Fests” that fall into that category; the Left Hand and Saint Arnold Oktoberfests are two that sum up the difference between the German’s take and our take on Oktoberfest. These two are beers that would probably make Germans turn their noses up, but they’re what most North Americans think of when they think of the taste of Oktoberfest – and these two are better than average.

Thanks for reading. If you have an Oktoberfest recommendation, feel free to chime in! It is still October after all.

Monday’s Return From Cyber Hades – Fair Warning

| October 24, 2016 | 0 Comments

MAID SERVICE! Cleaning Up Behind the Magic Curtain

Whoa. This past weekend I glimpsed the future, and saw that it was good (for all you survivalists). I don’t know about you, but two full days with no internet and no TV gave me time to collect all the technical mumbo jumbo about this website, talk to technicians (mostly waiting on hold), and realize just how thin the eggshell we call the internet really is. Thanks anonymous!

It is still amazing that in this very century we have gone from the zeet-zeet-bleep-buzz-scratch of a dialup modem to ultra high speed wireless internet service, but with speed comes the need – for more speed. If you think about it (like I do), it’s kind of like the need for faster and faster fly rods. These wondrous things, fast fly rods and faster website speeds, we all take for granted don’t we? The whiz-bang of this site is something I rarely think about anymore really. I just keep pushing the boundaries.

My first “aha moment” came a week ago when I was talking to an ad guru about advertising for this site, where all he could do is fill out adwords for Facebook – to try and raise the ratings on this site above (what I call) mummy sites, like www.texasflyfishing.com and www.flyfishingtexas.com. They have been a thorn in Google search’s side for years now, and the fine folks at Google will do absolutely nothing to review the inaccurate results and knock these two sites off of page one (to the bottom as far as I am concerned). So this guy is asking me questions, “so what is your site about?” Holy sh&* I thought. It’s about eight years, and a novel’s worth of words about everything. Of course I didn’t say that; “It’s about fly fishing,” was my canned and completely insufficient response. He ran with that, spouting off key phrases and key words, none of which came close to what this site is really about. “Fly fishing, fishing, Texas, techniques …”  on and on; we never finished talking about adwords because I already knew the value of paid ads on Facebook and Google for that matter. It’s zero.

So I settled on jacking up the site with a new pair of fat tires, and a fresh four-barrel carburetor. We’re going to be going faster, not a lot faster, but twice as fast as we did a week ago (hard to believe that’s all we can get out of this old beater). And with this new cloud distribution of the site’s pages, we have redundancy that should save us when the next, likely worse, internet armageddon happens. It is only a matter of time. Let me know if you notice the blazing new speed starting now.

Continuing on the theme of talking about the coming end of the world as we know it, if you want a real eye-opener have a read of Ted Koppel’s book, “Lights Out. A Cyber Attack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving The Aftermath.” I haven’t finished this one yet, but it will be interesting when half the USA loses electricity for a week or so. Do we wonder when would be the best time for the invisible enemy to attack our soft underside (the electric grid)? How about the day before election day?

Meanwhile, back on this little piece of planet earth, the days are painfully short now, and some concentration goes to a growing amount of photography work and pedaling for Cimarrona and welding when the weather is good. JB took his East Cape Fury out Saturday and saw carp on Ray Roberts but said they, “were deeper, skittish, and slower than usual.” Well usual is just about used up now, with the short days, low sun and cooling temperatures. I can’t resist the chance to head out this evening and hit that spot we caught two smallmouth bass on Ray Roberts – a couple of weeks ago. Nothing excites me more than seeing a viable new (to the lake) species like the smallmouth, spawning and growing on a lake the TPWD biologists said was not even a viable smallmouth habitat. I guess that’s the same logic they use for stocking triple the number of bass in Lake Fork over Ray Roberts?

What I remember of last winter, which really isn’t much at all, was that it was a winter that wasn’t. And now we are apparently headed for the same type of winter according to NOAA. They have predicted (which they can always change) a No Nina’ No Nino winter. Neutral is what they are saying, with drier than normal amounts of precipitation and warmer than average temperatures. I get the feeling this is setting us up for a repeat of this spring-summer – for 2017 season, which was absolutely one of the greatest I have ever fly fished through – even at less than full speed. Maybe I was just happy to be out and about, but I think the fish and the videos tell the truth – 2016 was a fantastic year. But, it a’int even over yet! We now prepare for the winter season, one that I completely missed last year. So it will be at least two years since we’ve done the Blue River, and perhaps more years since we traveled to Beaver’s Bend (BendBow). We’re way past due, and two years is a long time when you factor in flood events that have completely remodeled Beaver’s Bend, Oklahoma. I have heard enough about the changes that I will admit some excitement about returning and relearning the BendBow. The main goal is to provide readers with an ACCURATE report on BendBow, and see if anyone else is as interested as I am in that old reliable. It will be a start from scratch type of chase, now that the floods have left an historic mark on the area, and we’ll just see where the new roads take us …

Lydia Ann Fly Masters Tournament Results 2016

| October 12, 2016 | 0 Comments


Gross Funds Raised: $9,125
Net Funds Raised: $6,183
Total Funds Donated to CfR (2009-2016): $39,378

Total Number of Anglers: 60
Kayak Anglers: 12
Boat Anglers: 48
Female Anglers: 8 (included in totals)


1st: Mickey Collins – 30 1/4″ Redfish
2nd: Steven Charles – 29″ Redfish
3rd: Lloyd Mathews – 26 3/4″ Redfish

1st: Ken Kahanek – 21″ Redfish
2nd: Walter Ross – 15” Redfish
3rd: Rick Burlingame – 12” Redfish

1st: Joel Miller – 39” Kingfish
2nd: Oscar Gutierrez – 22 1/2” Ladyfish

1st: Dawson Merrill – 16” Needlefish
2nd: Tim Constanzo – 14 3/4” Speckled Trout

1st: Kari King – 21 1/2″ Redfish 


Fellow Anglers and CfR Supporters,

After wrapping up the 7th annual Lydia Ann Fly Masters Tournament, I remain humbled and grateful for the outpouring of support that the fly fishing community continues to give toward our event and especially toward Casting for Recovery.  We have been truly blessed by the continued support from each of you and from our dedicated and generous sponsors!

Though this was our seventh year to host the tournament, we continue to take your suggestions to improve and grow the tournament in small ways each year.  In my opinion, this year was the best tournament yet and the changes we have made were well received.

This year was also one of the most meaningful tournaments with this year’s LAFM tournament being dedicated to Allison Miller, a CfR alumni and longtime supporter of the LAFM tournament.  We were truly honored and humbled to be able to use our tournament to remember and celebrate the life of a strong and devoted supporter of both our tournament and Casting for Recovery.  It made it even more meaningful to see so many of Allison’s family members and friends at the tournament this year.

As I finished the clean up this year and walked away from another successful event, it got me to thinking about how far this tournament has come since its inception in 2009.  We began with a few small tents, a couple of banners and a handful of sponsors on the sandy side of the Crab Man Marina parking lot.  We had to learn from scratch what it takes to put on an event like this, from the venues to the rental companies to soliciting sponsors and participants.  Through the past seven years, we have all braved the heat, the rain and the wind.  We have watched rivers form and run through our raffle tents, we helplessly watched raffle tickets and buckets get blown off the tables and we saw our original venue change hands and change names.  Collectively, these challenges have created havoc during the tournaments, but they have also created great memories that have made the journey of keeping this tournament going so enjoyable.  READ MORE FROM ROB BURLINGAME Continue Reading

Monday Morning Sidewalk – The Dogs Are Still Hunting in North Texas

| October 10, 2016 | 0 Comments

carp on fly texas fly fishing ray roberts smallmouth

Good morning! If only for a moment, welcome to our escape from the US political reality show unfolding in front of us whether we like it or not. In North Texas, it has been a tall dose of reality, as we also saw our Texas Ranger baseball team bowed down to the Toronto Bluejays in resounding fashion as well. As for the first, it was Yogi Berra who said, “It ain’t over until it’s over,” and as to the Rangers, I heard the saying, “Pitching beats hitting” somewhere, and obviously pitching loses to hitting – if it’s inferior. Now that we have survived the long Ranger baseball season, and are surviving the political season … let’s get into the fly fishing season changes.


Would you believe our carp season keeps on giving? I think there are plenty of folks who hang up ALL seasons on fly prematurely – no matter where they are, or what the fish is. Here, a burst of excitement comes with the heating of our little piece of planet that starts in April and goes into the summer. The excitement is all about carp, essentially a husky saltwater-like fish that comes along for all to see as the water warms for summer. It also helps that so many followers of the carp are working their way through a school year as teachers, administrators and parents. And they see the coming of the carp as the coming of summer, and a break from all the work, and a break from all the anemic synthetic stocker rainbow trout of the (nowadays) anemic North Texas winters. (anemic is apparently my word of the day)

If you simply read the discussion boards (anemic nowadays as well) at places like Texas Fishing Forum, you would believe that when it’s time to go back to school, the carp season is to be put away, over and done just like the summer. Well, I am here to tell you that is simply not true. Sure, there is an arc to the season, just like any freshwater season of fly fishing, and we are definitely on the downside of the carp arc by the time October rolls around North Texas. If you think it’s over, well you could dismiss what I say as “carp-chamber-of-commerce-speak,” but it ain’t over!

texasflyfishing carp on fly ray roberts

As I was searching a particular area of Lake Ray Roberts for smallmouth bass Saturday, I couldn’t help but take the trolling motor ride over to a “carpy” looking area just to see if there was anybody home. I was quickly distracted from the memory of catching a yearling smallmouth on Ray Roberts a few days earlier, as the carp showed themselves to be up, tail down and feeding.

Now, I quickly realized that, just like Donald Trump now realizes, a video with audio is actually proof of character. And without video, you might have reason to question the character of reporting on carp in October as “chamber of commerce speak.” As luck would have it, I was able to get a couple of phone photos, and later I wired myself up and had a GoPro running during another carp catch. Three carp landed in the space of less than an hour. Does that tell you something? Nothing but the truth.

Sure, we are all readying for big redfish on salt in Louisiana, or Texas, and sure we are all readying for those sweet rainbows in Oklahoma, but in my neck-of-the-woods we’re also still hunting carp until the last dog dies. And I think we have about two dogs left. The end may be in sight, my latest carp so far was caught years ago on a mild November 1 day, but then maybe that last dog has a huge heart. That’s what we’re here to see this year, so stay tuned!

Please have a fantastic week as you go about your business. Perhaps you can sense a new energy level flying from these fingers these days? I guess for us “survivors*,” we never know for sure just when, if, or how we will recover. I am at the year road signs now, and finally feeling like my new reality is a whole lot better than I was beginning to think it would be; strength is catching up with energy, overeating is the norm and outlasting anyone I fish with is again my standard. Certainly, my work needs to be a more pressing obstacle to fly fishing than it currently is, but even that has been on the upswing lately. (See Texas Parks & Wildlife Cover Photograph)

*I hate the term “survivor(s)” when it comes to cancer. As for myself, I am a “cancer beater” just to be perfectly clear.

+Shannon Drawe
+Texas Fly Caster

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