Monday Morning Sidewalk – Around the Block and Back Again

| March 16, 2015

texas fly fishing kayak alligators ray roberts honey creek texas women fly fishers gopro lecture

Good morning and welcome to the Texas Fly Caster Monday Morning Sidewalk! We pretty much had a “weather neutral” weekend that just past, and it didn’t set back any of the cultural events that mark this time of year in Texas. South X Southwest in Austin is gobbling up all the entertainment headlines, although the creative money is on Denton’s  35North – here in Denton, Texas. South-by has become a corporate love fest fueled by hipsters, funded by corporations and fermented self flagellation. On the other hand 35North just keeps on trying, like a Timex watch.

The weather did nothing to slow the hundreds of thousands of spring breakers either. Texas roads take care of that – the slowing of the southbound current – that bottlenecks right outside my door, and continues for about thirty miles down the I35E creek-bed until it flows again in Dallas. I have to ask those students that take this same route every spring break: Will you ever learn?

What I am still learning is that life certainly sometimes gets in the way of living. Whether it’s an unexpected, bittersweet funereal this afternoon, or a house about to be turned upside down with the sanding of its 65-year-old wood floors this week, it seems the fly fishing gods are throwing their tritons in my path … and I have to remind myself that spring is still coiled, and has yet to fully let loose.

Although this week is being sliced like a Mellow Mushroom pizza, some things are certain. This weather’s not going to hold very long. I have a great trip coming next weekend – to Honey Creek down near San Antonio, and we might just get out to chase a rumor this week.

HONEY CREEK

The Honey Creek trip is put on by the Texas Women Fly Fishers, and I have been invited to attend to do a lecture for attendees on GoPro cameras, and using them for fly fishing. It’s a topic I have learned a lot about, at first by finding all the weaknesses GoPros have, and now as the cameras improve; by having a restored faith in their ability to consistently deliver stunning results for fly fishing video and creative still photography. Honey Creek, near San Antonio, TX, looks like a slice of heaven on the maps, and I can’t wait to hit the road this Friday … sweet.

CHASING A RUMOR

So the rumor I am chasing is one of alligators in Lake Ray Roberts, Texas. It is a story I held onto since I saw (what I believed to be) signs of gator slides late last summer in a particular area of Ray Roberts where almost no one treads. At that time, I had no one else’s visual on the tracks and paths I saw – to either confirm, or deny my theory. I figured it just might be big snapping turtles instead. Upon a visit to Mariner Sails in Dallas, Texas, a friend who works there said, out of the blue, “I heard you have gators on Ray Roberts.” That set me back, and I prodded him to tell me who had told him that, but with all the customers in and out of Mariner, he couldn’t remember who it was that told him. I hadn’t told anyone, but my guru, as my confidence (in what I thought I saw) was pretty low. So now, it’s back into the thicket, just in time for the lake to be up a little more than a foot, the water to be warming, the air to be warming, and all indicators leading to more active, perhaps nesting, reptiles. Before you ask: Yes, .357 SIG for self-defense only of course.

 YAKITY YACK

I have been spending a lot of time, too much really, on taking an “old” Native Ultimate 12 kayak and rigging it for the future. It went from a clean and simple (kayak – canoe hybrid 2008 model) first generation kayak model – to a pimped out, tracked out and electronically advanced fish finding machine over the weekend. For the pure of heart and mind fly fishers, you can stop reading now, but be sure to turn off your TV fishing shows, all of them, as well. If you watch a North American fly fishing show based in a boat, you can be sure electronics are involved … call it their dirty, hardly secret, little secret. I can count on one hand and have fingers left over, the number of conventional fish shows that actually reveal the fact they are all highly dependent on electronics to produce results due to a shoestring budget and limited timeframe. The rest actually do their best to hide their two fish finders at the bow trolling motor, and the big-screen they are glued to when driving seventy across your lake. Ego Eats Brain.

So now we have a kayak that has rigging and electronics that are probably worth more than the kayak itself! How crazy is that? I don’t know, but we’re going to find out soon. I am just looking forward to fishing the dead-of-winter next year – thanks to the new technology.

Spending this time back in the kayak world shows me just what a revolution has occurred in the kayak fishing world in a matter of a couple of years. Kayak makers have seen the light (of earnings), and are responding to a huge upsurge in the demand for kayaks for fishing, kayaks that make sense and are highly functional fishing machines. Descendants of my two kayaks, a Native U12 and a Wilderness Systems Tarpon 140, look nothing like my two “old” kayaks anymore, except that they both float. The changes are nothing short of amazing, and intriguing for a fly fisher, and guide invested in stealth. Pricing on these new fly fishing kayaks has followed suit a well – skyrocketing to as much as two-times the amount I paid for the same named models. The sky is the limit in fishing kayaks nowadays.

There certainly are some strong egos invested in the local kayak fishing world, easily as many as in the local fly world, so it’s like a minefield on a minefield as far as ideas and information on kayak fly fishing around here, but …

We’ll keep you posted on how well, or how fail, all this goes — as usual. The trip to Honey Creek next weekend is a kayak friendly trip, and I figured it was time to get the Native up and running for this year anyway. Next weekend will be a true test.

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Category: Adventure, Culture on the Skids, Events, GPS, kayaking, Life Observed, On The Road, Photography, Speaking Engagement

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I write. I photograph. I fish, and I live.

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