Scarlett Syndrome

| September 30, 2008

Where shall I go? What Shall I do? Fly fishing patterns in the fall in Texas

October is the month where, in Texas fresh water, fly fishing folks all begin to realize change is in the air. Lakes are in transition. Rivers are low, slow and still warm. Friends grasp at the last straws of summer and head to Colorado for one last shot before the snows and weather shut down the rivers as tourist attractions, and return them to their rightful possession by insulated locals. Plans are hatched for coastal expeditions, and if one is northerly enough, to Broken Bow, the Blue River or maybe a new location in Arkansas. Knowledge gained in one geographic area is wrapped in quivers for targeting new waters, with the subtle hope of catching fish while no one else around can figure out how you are doing it.

It’s a month best put into words by Scarlett O’Hare when Rhett Butler leaves her, “Rhett, if you go, where shall I go? What shall I do?” In Texas our summers are Rhetts – fast, furious and even hurricane packed. Scarlett … she’s our off months, falls and winters that are completely subject to the whims of nature. They can be mild, dry, cold and wet in any combination of circumstances that cause just enough disturbance to disrupt fishing research for days on end – real Scarletts. We struggle with where to go and what to do, mining the local message boards for fishing spots still holding, waiting for the Guadalupe River to be stocked, hoping the water below the Texoma Dam teems with Stripers once again, and looking for someone to tempt into complete unknowns like winter salt.

This fall is no different. Plans for Arkansas begin to germinate. The salt is always on my mind, and a guaranteed trip to South Padre Island at the end of October is on the calendar. Vague and incomplete trout stocking schedules offer time to reflect on attitudes about “Stockers”, poachers and the economics of trout stocking programs in Texas and Oklahoma. Fly shops begin to “embellish” local successes with no real evidence … that fish are still nothing more than what they’ve always been (and never anything less than they’ve always been of course).

One thing is certain, and that is a change in the weather. One thing is wished, and that is a change in the usual waters – the usual spots we all hole-up on (see LELLA for real strangeness) to ride out Scarlett’s mood swings. Maybe this winter I’ll figure out the salt. Maybe this year I’ll get over my stockerphobia. Missouri? Mexico? Who knows? Where are you going this fall / winter? Need someone to ride shotgun?

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Category: Culture on the Skids, Destination Fly Fishing, Life Observed

About the Author () is where to find my other day job. I write and photograph fish stories professionally, and for free here! Journalist by training. This site is for telling true fishing news stories, unless otherwise noted.

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