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Texas Fly Fishing Events Piling On Again This Year

| January 16, 2018

Let the good lines roll!

Announcements are flowing like sand through the hourglass now, and as is normal for the Texas Fly crowd, there is another scheduling overlap again this year. Now that they’ve shot themselves in THE OTHER foot, I can’t help but wonder how it is these things happen?

In the first place, the general events (non-trout related) occur at what is typically, and selfishly slow time of the fly fishing year – a slack tide of slow if you know what I mean? People around here may be talking fly, but they certainly aren’t throwing fly.

Here’s what I have so far, and if I miss your event, be sure to holler in my face as soon as possible. I am always glad to share information about this sport you live and love, and if you are so bold and focused as to want to ADVERTISE YOUR EVENT here, we can talk about that as well.

LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLE

The first event on the 2018 fly fishing calendar is right around the proverbial corner. Whoever comes up with a descriptive name that isn’t “fest.” or “festival” gets a prize! First, we retired “Conclave,” and now we work to retire “festival,” and the word “ambassador” from all fly lexicon forever and ever amen.

Texas Fly Fishing Expo

Based on the dead website http://txflyfishexpo.com/ – it appears that event is now dead in the water. So long. We hardly knew ya’.

TroutFest 2018

February 16-18, 2018

http://www.grtu.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/GRTU_SDE_2018.pdf

Sometimes a “sleeper” event – one loaded with great stuff and great information. That speaker list looks a little worn thin, except for Chris Wood, who I have traveled with in the past. His perspective, and speaking ability, and knowledge make for a good lecture.

Texas Freshwater Fisheries – Fly Fish Texas

https://tpwd.texas.gov/spdest/visitorcenters/tffc/visit/specialevents/flyfishtx/

February 24, 2018

This event was hurting for attendance and vendors last year – in my humble opinion. And without any kind of celebrity of note to draw crowds, it may be a little of an underdog this year as well. The February 24 date is questionable as well – with the winter we are having right now.

NOTE: Unfortunately, this event uses synthetic trout as their main attraction – setting up kids to fish for these little fish, and not really pairing up adults with walk-in kids to get their hands on fly rods. A lot more catching and hooking of kids would be accomplished with sunfish as the attraction, instead of those poor seasonal trout. This event feels like it is about ready for an overhaul.

Trinity River Water District – Flyfest 2018

March 10, 2018

http://trwdflyfest.com/

Along the Trinity River in Fort Worth, Texas.

This event has size and gearth to it. The location is eye-opening, and if you are local to North Texas, you are sure to run into someone you know.

Texas Fly Fishing & Brew Expo

March 10-11, 2018

http://txflyfishingfestival.org/

This event a couple of heavy hitters, and it costs heavy as well. I like that. I think in the microbrewery rich region of North Texas, they attracted three different beer makers last year. Pretty pathetic. But then, micro brews are so 2013 anyway, aren’t they? There are some speakers of note this year, and although I have never fished with any of them (you know who you are), I bet we can learn a little something new from some of these folks.

When it comes to talking, I would have expected to hear from Stephen Woodcock out of Fort Worth, but obviously he’s tied up at the TRWD Flyfest going on at the same time in Fort Worth.

NOTE: This goes on over two days, so you can do both this one and the Forth Worth event while you are not hanging out in Denton. You can bet the locals won’t be promoting ANYTHING local to local fly fishers.

Ladyfish 2018 Women’s Fly Fishing Festival

March 24, 2018

http://livingwatersflyfishing.com/ladyfish/

Round Rock Texas

Sponsored by City of Round Rock, and Living Waters Fly Fishing in Round Rock, Texas. This is the first ever of this particular event, and guess what? it’s calling itself a “festival” too.

It looks like your best contact is Living Waters Fly Fishing.


LATER THIS WEEK, I will publish the current rundown of fly fishing tournaments. It is always a short list, and with my working weekends, I won’t be the backbone of any Lake Ray Ray Roberts tournament anytime soon. Maybe in my next decade, I will have that freedom once again.

Or maybe I will just start an event called “Festival! Festival!” and retire now!

 

“The Best Bass Flies – How to Tie and Fish Them” Jay Zimmerman – Book Review

| December 14, 2017

How to Tie Bass Flies That Work

Best Bass Flies by Shannon Drawe Photography

The new fly tying book, “The Best Bass Flies – How to Tie and Fish Them,” by Jay Zimmerman, is a great introduction to tying flies, and learning techniques for catching our dominant southern species – the largemouth bass.

One of the first questions Texas fly fishers typically get is, “You can fly fish for bass?”

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The answer is always “yes,” and many conventional tackle fishers probably have little idea how much time Texas fly fishers actually spend pursuing bass on the fly. To pursue a bass on a fly rod may seem like bringing a knife to a gunfight, but from the fly line, to the rod to the fly, the US fly fishing industry has heard the cash registers ring, and developed fast action 7’11” bass fly rods, fly lines, leaders and flies to more easily target our abundant warm water bass.

Once a fly tier and fly fisher gives in to the truth that a conventional fisher will out-fish them on a consistent basis, it’s up to the fly tier to adapt his fly tying materials and patterns to flies that often look and act like hard baits, frogs, soft plastics and whatever else he sees working in the conventional fishing world of his own waters.

Along with the conventional categories comes the conventional use for flies, including topwater, suspending and deep flies. These patterns are created using what most fly tiers call “recipes” that include all the materials used in creating the fly. The flies illustrated in “The Best Bass Flies” does a great job of representing each category without burying the fly tier in the dozens of variations and different flies in each category.

This book does a great service to beginning bass fly tiers by emphasizing the need for tough flies that will take abuse, and the photography of the different fly tying steps are very easy to follow. The range of difficulty in tying moves pretty quickly from simple to complex.

Just as important as the fly, a fly fisher has to adopt the hard driving techniques employed by conventional bass fishermen. The how to “Fish Them” part of this book is what gives a new bass fly fisher a good start at recognizing and fishing the rough-and-tumble habitat notorious for holding big Texas bass.

In a day-and-age where most of the fundamentals of fly tying and fly fishing are found on YouTube internet videos, it is always reassuring to have a hard copy, once called books, of fly tying recipes that sit on a page without having to be paused or rewound again and again. Zimmerman also does a good job of weaving in some storytelling that keeps the reader interested.

“The Best Bass Flies” is a great beginning book that covers the bases. If you have never tied a fly before, there’s plenty of information about the tools and materials needed for fly tying. In addition, you will learn fly patterns and techniques fishing your fresh flies. This book is certain to get a lot of use by someone wanting to tie the flies and learn the techniques needed to catch bass on a fly rod.

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Texas Fly Fishing Report Going Around The Bend and Back Again

| October 27, 2017 | 0 Comments

Waltz Across Texas

Twelve-hundred miles down this week, and I never left Texas. The drive started here in Denton, made the long run to the Rio Grande Valley, and hit the second stop two days ago in Houston before closing the triangle this morning upon return to Denton, Tejas. Heck of a deal … retirement homes, heart hospitals and the like. An old artist friend in the Valley asked where I wanted my angel wings painted. I suggested he paint them on the car.

As we are here to talk fly fishing, fly fishing reports and the like … I best not deviate from the menu you have come to have a taste for over these many years. The last I will say about that journey may sound hokey, and you young bucks I saw at 8th Wonder last night may think I am an old hoot, but I’ll tell you – life goes by in the blink of an eye – just like that birthday I passed on the road this week.

I am not doing a video this week, as the weather is a blustery, misty fifty-degrees out on the Fly Bar, and the morning’s commute from Houston has me bleary-eyed. But we certainly can reprint the parts of the Texas Fly Fishing Report that matter and YOU CERTAINLY can read! I must throw in some conversations from last night at 8th Wonder as well — as those conversations are what really makes this site and the reporting here – REAL and ACCURATE.

STARTING WITH THE SCUTTLEBUTT 

GALVESTON BAY

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the Galveston Bay System, and it is fishing just like it would without fifty-five inches of rain drained into it. That is good to hear, although we did hear, early-on, about lost grass carp being caught in the bay. With this cold snap, we are setting up nicely for the November flounder run (says I).

GUADALUPE RIVER STRIPER

The most amazing news I had was from the Guadalupe River actually. Huge, and I want to emphasize HUGE striper are being caught along the Guadalupe River. One striper, found dead, came in at 47-pounds. That is no typo – forty-seven Texas, USA, pounds. Teens and twenties are sighted regularly, and being caught on occasion (yes there is photographic evidence on one particular phone). Break out your ten weight, and contact me for the details on the guide doing this with some consistency. These striper have been witnessed eating a c-and-r 20-inch largemouth bass in two bites tail first, so take your woolly buggers with you – and go home.

Although the flows were curtailed over the summer, there are holdover trout in abundance – both brown and rainbow. I saw phone fish porn that would make YOUR heart skip a beat – healthy and colorful trout being caught on the Guadalupe, and some significant stocking of the waters coming VERY SOON this season. This promises to be an epic year on the Guadalupe, and with the continuing “situational” fly fishing in Oklahoma? This should be your year to cash in your boxtops for a Guadalupe River float trip. You’ll be able to go for quantity (if that’s your thing), and in this rare instance, you will have an opportunity for quality as well. I can hook you up with a few guides who are onto these holdovers as well – CONTACT ME.


Last night’s event was a fly tying event put on by Bayou City Angler, and hosted by the 8th Wonder. Thanks once again for the kind and warm reception I once again received from the Houston Bayou City Angler patrons and employees who took the time to talk to me, tell stories and listen to my stories about stories – which I seem to be doing a lot more than casting a fly lately! You guys make me feel welcome and an outing with the Houston crew, Stacy Lynn et. al., is as much of a family feel as I have ever gotten in the fly world. It always seems to lead to some fantastic fly fishing as well!

If you are lucky enough to live near Houston, be sure to visit the fantastic brewery 8th Wonder east of Downtown Houston, Texas. I was able to sample their compliment of beers last night, staying away from those IPA’s so popular with the hipsters, and really enjoyed their “regular” beer offerings. Of course, tonight is game three of the World Series, so I wouldn’t even go close to Minute Maid during the three game close-out of the Dodgers. So, do any of you know what the 8th. Wonder of the world actually is?

ON TO THE REGULAR REPORTING

TEXAS

North Sabine

Trout are fair to good under birds and pods of shad on soft plastics. Redfish and flounder are good in the marsh on shrimp. Flounder are good on shrimp, shad and Gulps at the mouths of bayous.

South Sabine

Trout are fair to good under birds and pods of shad. Redfish are good at the jetty on live bait and cracked crabs. Flounder are good on Gulps around marsh drains.

Bolivar

Trout, black drum, sand trout and redfish are good at Rollover Pass. Trout are fair to good while drifting shell on plastics. Bull redfish are good on the beachfront.

Trinity Bay

Trout are good for drifters working pods of shad and mullet on soft plastics and Gulps. Redfish are fair to good on the east and north shorelines on shrimp and Gulps.

East Galveston Bay

Trout and large Gulf trout are good for drifters working deep shell on plastics and fresh shrimp. Redfish and flounder are fair to good in the marsh around drains on shrimp. Trout are good on topwaters for waders working mud and shell.

West Galveston Bay

Bull redfish and flounder are good at San Luis Pass on shrimp and shad. Sheepshead, redfish and black drum are good at the jetty on shrimp and crabs. Trout are good on topwaters for waders working the shorelines.

Texas City

Gulf trout are good in the channel on fresh shrimp. Redfish are good in Moses Lake on shrimp.

Freeport

Trout and redfish are fair to good on the reefs in Christmas Bay and Bastrop Bay. Bull redfish are good around Surfside and at the Quintana jetty on crabs, shrimp and mullet.

East Matagorda Bay

Trout are good for drifters on live shrimp over humps and scattered shell. Trout and flounder are fair to good on muddy shorelines on soft plastics.

West Matagorda Bay

Trout are good on sand and grass humps on soft plastics and topwaters. Redfish are good on live shrimp at Shell Island, Oyster Lake, Crab Lake and Mad Island on the incoming tide.

Port O’connor

Bull redfish are good at the jetty on crabs, mullet and shad. Trout are good on the reefs in San Antonio Bay on live shrimp.

Rockport

Trout are fair in the channel on free–lined shrimp. Redfish are good in Redfish Bay on mullet and crabs. Bull redfish are good in the Lydia Ann Channel and around Mud Island on shrimp and crabs.

Port Aransas

Redfish are fair at Shamrock Cove and Pelican Island on topwaters and Gulps. Bull redfish are good at the jetty and on the beachfront on natural baits.

Corpus Christi

Bull redfish are good in the surf on mullet and shrimp. Trout are fair for waders working mud and grass on Super Spook Jrs and Gulps.

Baffin Bay

Trout are good on topwaters and plum plastics around rocks and grass. Trout are good while drifting deep rocks on plum plastics. Flounder are good in the Land Cut on Gulps and jigs tipped with shrimp.

Port Mansfield

Redfish are good while drifting pot holes on topwaters and soft plastics under a popping cork. Trout and redfish are fair to good on the spoils on small topwaters and gold spoons. Flounder are fair to good at East Cut on Gulps and shrimp.

South Padre

Redfish are good in Airport Cove and on the Gas Well Flats on DOA Shrimp and Gulps. Trout are good on the flats on topwaters with high tides.

Port Isabel

Trout and redfish are good over potholes and grass flats on scented baits and topwaters. Redfish and flounder are fair to good in Cullen Bay on Gulps.

OKLAHOMA

LOWER MOUNTAN FORK
Submitted by:

Mark Hannah

Date:

10/22/2017

Lake Elevation:

Normal

Water Temp and Clarity:

Clear
 
Action: Good
Baits:  Powerbait, Worms
Locations: Shallows
TEXOMA

Submitted by:

Cody Jones

Date:

10/24/2017

Lake Elevation:

Above Average

Water Temp and Clarity:

Murky
 
Action: Good
Baits:  Flukes, Hair Jigs, Shad, Top Water
Locations: Below the dam, Flats, Main lake, Points
 
Action: Good
Baits:  Cut Bait, Dough bait, Punch bait, Shad, Worms
Locations: Main lake, Points, Riprap, River Mouth
 
Action: Fair
Baits:  Jigs, Minnows
Locations: Brush structure, Docks, Main lake, Standing timber
LOWER ILLINOIS

Submitted by:

Warden Jeremy Bersche

Date:

10/22/2017

Lake Elevation:

Normal

Water Temp and Clarity:

65, clear to murky
 
Action: Slow
Baits:  Nymphs, Powerbait
Locations: Below the dam, Spillway, and Watts WMU
 
 

Lower Illinois Additional Information:

Water releases related to generation 1500 to 3000 cfs occur regularly. Since the water runs then is shut off on a regular basis, sometimes daily, this is considered normal elevation. When the main gates are open along with the generators the elevation is considered high. No releases for a long period of time and low water in the Arkansas River, means low water levels in the Lower Illinois. After a water release, the water becomes dingy then settles out and clears. Stocking is still suspended due to water quality conditions.
Be sure to purchase your OKLAHOMA NON-RESIDENT Fishing License before you go!

Follow-Up Shots Fired Big Box Retailers on Life Support

| April 9, 2017 | 0 Comments

Fort Worth Backwoods in New Location with new outlook on the fly fishing life.

Backwoods Fort Worth New Location

Having been informed that Backwoods Fort Worth had indeed been reborn, I did my duty and went in to apologize at the rumors I spread of their demise. Of course, who could have known the store has reopened under new ownership IF IT WAS NEVER EVEN ANNOUNCED?

I found the new Backwoods digs (1013 Foch St, Fort Worth, TX 76107) to be a bit cozy, but I was encouraged by the move of the fly fishing area to near the front of the store, and much of that pricey clothing shifted to the back.

“The only stores that survived were those with fly fishing (departments) that were doing business, so that means something,” Stephen Woodcock said, last Saturday, April 1st. And that’s why the new management group decided to give fly fishing a more prominent role in the surviving Backwoods stores. Woodcock added that he was still a bit unsure as to who the new owners are, other than (possibly) a real estate group. NOTE – Rumors spreading that a group of fly fishers have purchased the stores appear to be false.[ppw id=”160883013″ description=”Condition of Fly Fishing Retail” price=”.25″]

The staff has thinned with few full-timers and a helping handful of part-time workers that maintain a diverse knowledge base. The kayaks are gone, but stand-up paddle boards are in the font window. Kayak rentals are still going down on the Trinity as well.

Fly Tying Fort Worth Backwoods 2017

And Stephen’s forte, fly tying, still occupies a chunk of real estate, but the shelves are certainly thin when it comes to materials. I counted something like five bucktails, which gives any fly tier a pretty good idea of supply. Nevertheless, Stephen didn’t hesitate to sit down at the vise and demonstrate a quick topwater fly to a couple of customers at a moment’s notice.

“We only missed one fly tying Wednesday, and we were closed for three weeks,” he said. “I told the guys to show up, and I opened the doors,” so they could gather on Wednesday nights to tie flies, Woodcock said.

When we were talking about the crowded floors, Stephen looked at the new location as something of an interim step on the way to a larger location. For now, I think they could do with fewer rolling clothing displays, and maybe that would get rid of some dead-end traffic patterns. It’s not exactly a “minimalist” look they have going.

Fly Tying Fort Worth Backwoods 2017

The store’s supply of Simms seems to be holding up, but it’s a bit difficult to know just what they’ll do to replenish their fly rods; another costly inventory item, and one that needs to move to be viable. Later that evening, I heard that keeping the “Backwoods” name was debated because some problematic vendor (credit) history (you can imagine!) came with their recent past.

“Your story hit the nail on the head. Sears. J.C. Penney. The big boxes are in trouble. The fly shops in the big box stores want the fly tying merchandise to move, and that’s not how it works,” Woodcock said, adding, “You can sell certain flies one season a year (and their ingredients), when they are in season. The rest of the time it sits there. Big box stores see that, and mark it down to move it … they just don’t get it.”

Fly Tying Fort Worth Backwoods 2017

CONCLUSION

All-in-all, we would want any fly shop to succeed to the best of its abilities. I find it hard to imagine that doing the same thing, no matter how long you’ve been doing it, will now produce different results. I would (once again) encourage all fly shops, but specifically Backwoods Fort Worth, to do a better job of professional industry outreach – as I described in the previous article.

The Fort Worth location of Backwoods is pretty tight, but at a party (with a lot of fly fishers) later that evening in Fort Worth; we pretty much agreed the general business area is “interesting,” if a bit “frat-ish.” But we fly fishers know we’ll go just about anywhere to talk fly, listen for fly knowledge, make fly friends and buy what we need while we’re there. In general, I sometimes think some shops can get so busy in the day-to-day that they forget to change dance partners, and “dance with the ones that brung ‘em” every once in awhile.

Backwoods is one of the sponsors for the Fly Fishing Film Tour in Fort Worth this year. That event is at the same location, and the same events are happening on the pond as they always have in the past. I will have a story on that in the next few days. Click to enlarge map –

Fly Tying Fort Worth Backwoods 2017

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Monday Morning Sidewalk – Hail Hail Walk and Roll

| March 27, 2017 | 0 Comments

Texas spring weather does damage to North Texas in concentrated areas.

Good morning once again, on this Monday morning. It’s a sidewalk to somewhere, and the pace is pretty slow today because of the weather that passed through last night. Here, in my neighborhood we dodged the bullets by about a single mile. Across town, folks are not so lucky as the golf balls fell as randomly as a Tiger Woods round of golf.

This weather not only does damage, it also supercharges the local creeks with water, and the thunder lightning and hail seem to spook the fish off lakes – for at least a day. Regardless of the fish, it did prevent my recording the Members Only Report (MOR), and delayed a look at a river down south of Fort Worth scheduled for today.

For those of you who missed it, the story prior to this one is an interesting read. It’s a look at a small portion of the challenges that big box chainstores, like Bass Pro, face in the future. It also takes a look at what smaller fly shops, known as “mom-and-pop” fly shops, can do to help themselves and help others who help them. Read – Shots Fired – Big Box Retail on Life Support. I took advantage of the discussion boards at Texas Fishing Forum, to expand and progress that conversation. I think it is interesting that some folks have never felt comfortable in a fly shop! Read that exchange here – Sears Makes Me Think Fly Fishing Retail . (Years ago, we had forums here, but they are better left to professionals, as the scammers and spammers just LOVE forums.) Continue Reading