Tag: reader contribution

Monday Morning Doldrums

| October 8, 2012 | 0 Comments

How different is Monday from Sunday? This morning actually has a morning glow, and sun coming through the leaves yet to fall. Yesterday was a day that never showed the sun, a problem for me both mental and physical.

It’s hard to get going when you’re in suspended animation brought on by neither day nor night light, a neutral grey that carries cool air, and suspect chances of success on the water. I stayed in while the braver fishers texted me from their kayaks to let me know the “bite was on,” and the action was fast and furious. My claims of age, thin skin and brittle bones were accepted too readily as excuses. Perhaps I look it these days.

My Sunday time was spent organizing the Fly Shop (now becoming home bricks and mortar), clearing the decks of this new space, and cobbling together a TV and DVD player to have fly fishing DVD’s constantly running in the background. This new DVD player also streams content with built-in WiFi, so yesterday was an entire day of Ken Burns World War II series.

Next weekend is moments away, and I’m going to have to fit a lot of things in between now and then – a broken sewer line outside our house (nice – no stress there), work, Airstream work picks up pace again, and testing the waters to see what this weather has done to the fish. The week ends in Houston, so throw in about $120 in gas to make that round trip.

If you are looking for further reads from wherever you are this Monday morning, try this story on Thomas McGuane, Stu Apte and Joe Brooks. It’s nice to have readers sending me these stories behind the curtain!

If you feel like contributing story leads, or actual stories, don’t hesitate to contact or comment. While we have had an early cold snap here in North Texas, it’s still not quite time to dive into trout stocking schedules and tying killer flies for the Blue River – close, but not quite.

If you are sending in stories about events, such as the fly fishing tournament that happened day-before-yesterday, do readers a favor and follow up with results and photography. Inquiring minds want to know how stories end, you know?

Have a great week and be sure to follow twitter @texasflycaster and “Like” the facebook shingle on the left column as well. If you are one of those “facebookers” there are plenty of drawbacks to the way facebook pages work (pretty amateurish code really), but that is a location that could interest you.

Start Your Fly Fishing Week Right Here as Usual

| August 13, 2012 | 0 Comments

I know it is “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” but I had to take a classic and bend your senses a but as you arrive online this fine Monday, wherever you are. You could be in a cubicle, in your home office, in your corner office, in Austin, in Dallas, in Houston, in Brownsville, on your boat or on your dock. Have another shot of coffee from the counter, the break-room or the barista, and loosen up.

The thing is, I am here this fine Monday, the beginning of a fantastic week in the life, to ask a couple of things of you:
1) I am asking you to take a moment and tell me if you fly fished anywhere in Texas this past week or weekend.
2) I also want to ask you what you want to hear about through Texas Fly Caster – you may, or may not know the topics, but they are a) Texas fly fishing, b) Culture on the Skids, c) music, d) beer and dining, and e) anything that you think would interest you and readers of Texas Fly Caster. YES, I KNOW this is a pandora’s box being opened, but it is Monday.

Now, I know you are lurking, waiting, and wanting to brag about your exploits. Here’s your chance. Consider this post a blank, a tabula rasa. It has no value, except to serve as a wakeup call on Monday morning, actually every Monday morning for the foreseeable future.

As far as world is concerned, if your tree (fly fishing excursion) falls in the forest, and no one’s there to hear it, does it make a sound?

The range of Texas Fly Caster tends to expand and contract over a year’s time, and with the late summer doldrums upon us, it’s time to look a little further over the horizon. There will be a post on a place that offers fantastic fly fishing – Northern Arkansas – later today, and we will hear from local Joel Hays about his trip to Southwestern Colorado (dry and low) sometime soon.

I also finally got off the economic books, finishing “Confidence Men,” by Ron Suskind, and am now moving the bookmark in Jim Harrison’s “The English Major.” Perhaps there are books you’ve read lately that are more on topic? Harrison’s book is certainly an interesting read.

I don’t know about you, but these gas prices have me down, and that coincides with plenty of work going on around the homestead, namely relocating the fly tying area (and all fly related gear) to a new in-home location that I painted and mostly emptied into the new 1200 square foot location (metal and woodworking) in a heavy game of musical chairs. The game’s just about over, and the music is about to stop on that project.

Reader Response

| July 24, 2012 | 0 Comments

Reader Response to Monday Morning Sidewalk

In response to your post this morning asking where people have fished
recently. For me, it’s been a reintroduction to the water of sorts
over the course of the past couple of weeks – pretty much inspired by
your post recounting your conversation with Joel Hays at the Lowbrau
in Pilot Point.

I too have a friend – Joel. He and I are complete rookies on the carp
seen and hit Ray Roberts a week ago last Friday for what is best
described as simply a long walk on a hot Texas afternoon; but for us,
a fishing excursion, a day off from the office, no family commitments
and no place to be except on the water. Even enough time to end the
day/evening with a couple of cold ones at the Lowbrau (thanks for the
introduction). All it took was one tug from a cooperative carp and a
long distance release in the mid-afternoon sun to suck us in for “next
time”.

All that to say I’m reinvigorated and just popping bugs in the ponds
around Plano – but I’m back on the water, ever so small, and having
just as much pulling in bluegills as getting the knots out of my son’s
reel. Thanks for the inspiration.

I appreciate your writing and am happy to read your writings on any
of the topics you cover as I can quickly cite three instances when
you’ve been dead on about the fishing (carp), the music (Hays Carll),
and the beer/food (Lowbrau). Some areas that may be worth sharing are
your thoughts and perspectives on taking a good photo out on the
water, and local shows coming to town that you recommend.

Thanks for what you do.
Jason

Thank you Jason! I believe our paths have already crossed, as we had a moment talking along the trail last Friday, while heading opposite directions. It certainly was a tough outing, but whether or not the three clients in tow caught anything, they certainly know how to catch carp now.

It has been a fairly distressing seven days, with the zebra mussel announcement causing a lot of uncertainty and consternation. The zebra mussel thing has all kinds of ramifications for everyone who uses Lake Ray Roberts, much less those of us who have invested portions of their lives trying to create a guiding business based on a lake that is now changing beneath us. I heard none other than Ted Nugent once say, “Improvise, adapt and overcome.” That, of course, is an unofficial saying of the United States Marine Corp, and one I have already begun implementing on Lake Ray Roberts. Stay tuned for some surprising new fly fishing opportunities on Ray Roberts in the coming weeks. You’ll have to free up your conventional thinking on some of these adventures.

Reader Report – Galveston Flounder

| November 23, 2011 | 0 Comments

NOTE – Readers are welcome to give back to Texas Fly Caster anytime. We welcome fresh writing from new sources, and as long as it conforms to being about “Fly Fishing Culture on the Skids,” I can safely say it will have a good chance it gets published. Photography is a plus. And you will be rewarded handsomely, at the same rates everyone is rewarded, for their efforts. (+-0.00)

I arrived in Galveston around 7-am, the early morning sun was doing its best to warm the chilly morning, but it wasn’t enough.

A friend had recommended several spots, the most scenic seemed to be the South Galveston Jetty accessed out of Apfel Park on the East end of the island. A sign demanding $8 to access the beach and threatening to tow my vehicle greeted me, but no one was at the park. I left a love note on my car asking any authorities to please call me and I would gladly pay the admittance fee.

Courtesy Photo - Immanuel Salas
Courtesy Photo – Immanuel Salas

As I tugged on my breathable waders and strapped into my fly fishing back pack a Galveston Parks employee drove by and I chased them down the beach as if they were a roosterfish in “Chasing Down the Man”. Instead of “combs” he had a gold toothed smile and politely told me the park was free at this time of year so I didn’t have to pay for admittance. I jokingly asked them if that is because there are no fish here right now. He literally laughed as he drove off …

Back to my gear and pre-fishing rituals (which includes rigging the fly rod while humming the soundtrack to Tron out loud) and soon I was on the rock jetty and headed south. It was awesome to look at, strong south winds bought crashing waves across the VW Bug-sized boulders. One gap in the jetty walk was easy to cross but another further down would require stepping off into the tide pools on the east side and circumventing the gap to get back on. Being short on time and with a camera girl I didn’t want to drown, we focused on the surf side before working over the tide pools.

Courtesy Photo - Immanuel Salas
Courtesy Photo – Immanuel Salas

Two flicks of glass minnows were all I saw in about 2 hours which was disappointing because the pools looked very fishy. Easy to see the sand bar that eventually joins the jetty and promised to hold fish in its many dark recesses. But it lied. No fish.

Moved to the east shoreline where visible depressions and dark areas yielded nothing. Very nice with the waves rolling as the tide slowly swung back towards a 1:55-pm low tide. I worked a variety of clousers and small baitfish patterns while the lady chunked a variety of GULP.

Our time was winding down and we had an 11am lunch date so we packed it in. The seagulls, terns and pelicans kept laughing at our inability to catch. Mocking. Hundreds of them, waiting for us to leave so they could begin feeding without showing us where the fish were.

I don’t like getting mocked, though it happens often. So I charged them.Fly rod in hand, running like one of William Wallace’s boys. I charged.

Courtesy Photo - Immanuel Salas
Courtesy Photo – Immanuel Salas

And they flew away.

Met our friend for lunch (La Tortuga – touristy, but the flavor and service made it well worth it. Affordable, too.) Mike the waiter and I got to talking about, guess what: fishing. He said the jetties don’t have any fish right now and if I wanted to get into flounder I should try the shoreline east of the road leading to Seawolf Park. White or salt and pepper GULP, Mike said. And pack extra jigheads, because you are going to lose some on the snags.

So off I went to Pelican Island, waited on the drawbridge which seemed to take forever. I’m pretty sure people on their way to fish are supposed to have the right of way in all instances.

Around 1:30-pm I arrived at the road, stopped before all the NO PARKING signs and saw dozens of cars parked on the shoulder. I was afraid I was too late.

Luckily many people were leaving. Mostly because they had their landing nets slung over their shoulder full of doormat sized flounder. Holy Crap! As I slammed it into park and threw my door open to fast load into my rig I saw at least six people walking back to their cars with their two fish limit and big ole smiles.

I thought “Even I should be able to get on fish in here.” I walked a short trail through the brush and hit the shoreline. It was busy, but there was plenty of space between anglers so I started stripping fly line and headed in. Red and white clouser and intermediate line and I went to work. And it was work. Wind full on in the face was killing my cast, dumping it about 25 feet in front of me. Worked all angles, paralleling the shore, towards the shore, out deeper, behind the back. All I got was funny looks from spincasters chunking various colored GULPs and plastics. Then they’d hook up.

Enough of that. I grudgingly stowed the flyrod (you can stop reading at this point if you want to) and brought out my camera girl’s “Lady Pflueger” pink spincaster and went to town with a white GULP. It was my self-imposed punishment.

Weather had changed at some point, was actually warm out, and the tide shifted too. Working a slow retrieve back towards the shore and got that THUMP. Lowered the rod tip, breathed a long calming breath and began my ten second count… Then I set that hook. I felt the flounder slide towards me on the hookset and, more concerned with dinner than sportsmanship, I reeled that little 14incher in.

Slid him onto shore and strung him up (BEFORE unhooking him. I’ve played that little game with Mr. Flounder before. And lost.). On the belt stringer and I waded back in. This time with the fly rod, determined to make it happen.

But I didn’t. Went the rest of the day without another hook up. I witnessed other fisherman taking fish so I know the bite hadn’t stopped. Nope, it was just me.

Most people took on GULPs or swimbaits, brighter colors, including tandem rigs. The water wasn’t very clear, but it was green and you could make out the rocks and rubble underneath. Plenty of sand and soft stuff for the flounder to play in. Not sure on water temp, though it was warmer than the air. An old timer that had been out there every day this week (jealous) said he thought the run was really just getting started.

After seeing everyone walking out with limits and size I was a little disappointed to only have the one fish. And he wasn’t on the fly (forgive me). I did talk to others who didn’t get any, and ran into more people while getting ice that had been skunked for weeks, so in the end I felt good and knew I had a nice pan fried dinner in store. So it was a good day.

Breathable waders, wool socks, fishing shirt and pants kept me warm and dry throughout the day. Drove home that eve, 8 hours roundtrip for 6 hours of fishing and one flounder. Don ‘t doubt my addiction.

An interesting aspect of fly fishermen is their ability and need to read conditions, the bite and their own instincts to be able to adapt on the water. That includes changing retrieves, flies, tactics, etc… I think it also means being versatile enough to know when to store the fly rod and hook them with a white GULP on a pink spincaster.

Be versatile,

Immanuel

Sunday in San Francisco – Reader Post From the Left Coast

| November 20, 2011 | 0 Comments

Golden Gate Bridge - Courtesy Immanuel Salas
Courtesy – Immanuel Salas

INTRODUCTIONI hope you are enjoying you cool, overcast Sunday afternoon. At least that’s the weather report from North Texas. I received a manuscript and photography from a fly fisher and friend Immanuel Salas, who now calls Taylor, Texas, his home. He’s quite a character. He’s in the “movie business,” so let’s just say he leads an exciting life. This episode of his travels came about because he volunteered (with pay) to drive some part of a shoot (set) from Austin to San Francisco. Imagine the difficulty of arriving in a foreign country (Northern California), and attempting to pull off a fly fishing DIY! Think Steve Perry of Journey singing “Lights” as you read this and maybe you will find the right frame of mind. All images and words – Immanuel Salas

Work necessitated I drive to San Francisco so I asked for a couple of extra days before I had to fly back. That granted, fly rod packed, I set off from Austin to San Francisco. I had 30 hours of driving to do in 3 days. But, as long as there is the potential for fish, I’m game.

Set out Monday with chilly weather, partly cloudy and changing skies and occasional rain and drove through some of the best deer country Texas has to offer. All the way through Llano, I saw deer on or running across the road, and every town had processing shops open for business. Made it out to El Paso and spent the night at my grandparents and uncle – real Mexican food.

Next morning I grabbed some breakfast tacos and let me tell you; you know your tacos are legit when you get them from a taco shop with barb wire fences. That powered me all the way to Phoenix where I needed to refuel and get lunch and wouldn’t you know it: There just happened to be a Cabela’s right there. Bought some flies, intermediate line, spare reel and had lunch with my Border Patrol uncle. Those guys do an amazing job.

Then on through to Cali and I figured out the trick to California; avoid LA. I refueled before I reached the nexus of evil, circumvented it and hoteled up in the lovely little town of Santa Clarita.

Courtesy Photo - Immanuel Salas
Chinatown largemouth bass in tank. Courtesy photo – Immanuel Salas

Next morning after the continental breakfast, I blazed west towards the ocean. Hit Highway 1 and rode it all the way to Monterrey. Gorgeous. Hardest part was keeping my eyes on the road and off the water. I wanted to fish the whole way, but knew I’d never make San Francisco on schedule.

Courtesy Photo - Immanuel Salas
Highway 1 – Courtesy Photo Immanuel Salas.

I passed a place called San Simeon and had to turn around, walk the pier and take some pictures. Water was crazy clear down to 8 feet. Great vistas. Pried myself away and headed north. Made my drop that night and spent the next day on the clock until lunch.
Courtesy Photo - Immanuel Salas

With half a day and restricted to mass transit I decided I’d visit Western Sport Shop in San Rafael, get some info, flies and save the fishing for the next day. Western Sport Shop is a stand alone building that has a ton of fly gear, conventional fishing gear and … guns. A Texas boy couldn’t be happier. I talked to an employee named Carlos, and we talked about the area’s fishing opportunities. As Texas Fly Caster suggests I always make sure to buy from shops that I visit and ask for advice/directions.

A little reciprocity and great way to get a feel for the place. I also like to identify myself as an out of towner, here for a limited amount of time and intending to catch and release so they are less gun shy about giving me good intel, or afraid to give up honey holes.

Carlos said the bulk of the striper had moved from mid-bay to the north and even into some of the rivers. He suggested three places and, wanting to make the best of my time I asked him to identify them on the map I brought. He circled them, gave a basic description and wished me well. I checked out with another employee and we discussed the 2 striper/day limit as I bought my fishing license. I got the impression they have a pretty negative opinion of their Parks/Wildlife Management out there. They also complained about rule breakers of various types and the difficulty of sporting shops to be successful. It was interesting to get their perspective, but not exactly inspiring. They had a two for one sale on just about everything in the store. That plus some great Puerto Rican food at a spot called Sol Food provided all the inspiration I needed.Courtesy Photo - Immanuel Salas

Next morning I was walking from my friend’s house towards the shore and the Presidio Park area. I hit the sand, donned the waders and headed in. The water was cold and I was very aware of the pressure and current on my legs. It was awesome. There were tons of dogs playing on the beach with their owners and some sort of women’s health marathon so all these mean and lean ladies were jogging by and I was fly fishing in the ocean so I don’t think I could have been happier.

Knowing an encounter with striper was unlikely I was hoping for surf perch, rock fish or really any other swimming thing. You have to really watch your back cast out there. There is a restricted area accessible only by wading, but an errant jogger decided the posted signs didn’t apply to her so she ran through. I know this because as I double hauled my whistler toward the surf I heard a YELP! I turned to see this lady grabbing her thigh and looking around in confusion. As I retrieved my fly-less tippet I apologized, even though I knew no one was supposed to be there. She ran on, more confused than anything. Don’t worry; I found the whistler and tied it back on.

So I walked up and down the beach, enjoying the views, the waves and went across sand, concrete paths, rip rap and eventually landed at a visitor area with hot coffee sent from the fishing gods. There was a public fishing pier, but I didn’t see anyone take any fish. They were crabbing though. One guy got too crabby and fell in. It was a little scary, they are out there a couple of hundred yards in cold, choppy water and no way to climb onto the barnacle encrusted pier from the water. Luckily one of his pals tossed him a hand line and dragged him back to shore. He hauled himself out of the water as his pals heckled him until the police and EMS showed up. They gave him the once over and a finger wagging.

Fishing continued all the way to the restricted area at the base of the Gate and I retraced my steps, trying different flies like clousers and little crab imitators. I found a little sand flea about an inch long but don’t have anything like that. I covered a lot of water a lot of angles and spent a lot of time but caught zero fish. I had to meet the friends for a late lunch. They came into town for the UrbanAthalon event and I hadn’t seen some of them in a year. Otherwise I would have ditched those suckers and fished all day.

The next day I had all day to fish and one of our friends was unable to run the UrbAth and offered to drive me to fishing spots so I was stoked. I had phoned the Leland Fly Shop and the guy confirmed most of the striper had moved north. He did suggest some places in the north to try, but most required a fair drive. He also said that surf perch were getting busy in Pacifica and that sounded really interesting but was again a drive, plus I didn’t want my ride to get bored to death. I wonder what it’s like to not be a fisherman? I just feel bad for that guy.

I phoned the Orvis Fly Shop and this guy was plugged in with information. Unfortunately for me it was inland trout in the rivers and a few lakes. Nothing against trout. I love them. But I had the need. The need for sea. Good guy though and I’d really suggest visiting this shop.

I thought a run to the San Rafael area would allow me to hit the three places the Western Sports guy told me as well as China Camp which was suggested by a friend. So off we went. My driver friend couldn’t understand my giddiness. Strange.

First stop was Paradise Cay and its yacht club. Beautiful area, friendly people. Sandy shore that leads to a rip rap jetty that buffers the yacht berths. I went to the far end of the jetty, by passing the rip rap that seemed pretty exposed to the bay waves, in favor of the bigger rocks and visible structure at the far end and where it hooks right. Water was clear to four to five feet down and about the same out and saw zero bait. Not even tiny guys or crustaceans. Worked it for a while, probed the deep and the structure. Got some snags, but no bites.

Next up was Piper Park. Now this sucked. It was a soccer park, bordered in on three sides by Corte Madera Creek, brackish water that flowed east into the bay. Carlos had told me I couldn’t really walk the shore there or wade, but that there was a point I should be able to work. The entire shore line was a mucky mess where I sank with every step. Normally I’d battle my way right through, but I didn’t know what kind of California muck I was dealing with and it went on for several yards.

Courtesy Photo - Immanuel Salas
Courtesy Photo – Immanuel Salas

Further west the shore was choked with houses built right on the water. So I looked for the “point”. I found a path that led towards the water and while I never found the point, what I did find was a sign that proclaimed “not an authorized recreation area water contact not recommended”. I’m not going to drag my fly line through that crap. I left. Remember that this guy circled this exact spot on the map.

I headed to Carlos’ second spot on the north side of the west end of the San Rafael Bridge. The south side is San Quentin Prison and since I don’t currently have any relatives to visit there I focused on the rip rap on the north side. There is a small parking lot there where I watched two people smoke up in their car. As weed smoke filled their car I shook my head and stripped my line. Off I went. Started with that clouser and was on the move since I didn’t see any bait, had no bites.

There is a long fishing pier headed by the Marin County Rod and Gun Club. But there was also a smaller floating pier that provided some interesting angles to anyone wanting to balance on the bobbing platforms. Well, not exactly. Marin County Rod and Gun Clubbers came over and asked me if I was a member and that otherwise I needed to leave -immediately.

I politely apologized, advised I hadn’t seen any signs, when they promptly informed me there was a sign on the road. Of course I couldn’t see it from the shoreline I walked, but they seemed to think that everyone in the state of California knew better. I wanted to ask them if the two potheads in the smokey mobile were club members, but I remembered I am an ambassador of Texas fly fishermen and politely left.
So Western Sports sent me to Paradise Cay which was pretty, but not fishy (for me).

Piper Park was a toilet. San Rafael Bridge afforded me 100 yards between the bridge and the Marin Co. R & G C. Now the man circled these spots on a map and if there was any other information he should have imparted he didn’t. Boo on them.

Not disheartened we took the drive to China Camp. It was mostly a large, beautiful park with great open areas to bike, hike and run. Eventually we reached the shoreline and went all the way to the end where a replicated Chinese fishing camp is maintained. The camp illustrates the conditions of the Chinese immigrants that settled here in the 1900’s. There is historical information, period buildings and a dock protruding into the bay. And lots of tourists and day parkers.

Someone had the audacity to grill some delicious smelling burgers and not offer me any. OK, I was hungry – for a tug on my fly line anyway. The shore alternated between cliffs, craggy boulders, sandy and pebble shores rocky points and small islands. Beautiful. Cold water, no real sense of current, light winds. And no fish. Dang. On the way out two bait fishermen nabbed some striper off the dock. I headed over to check them out. Looked nice, 16inch, maybe 18inchers? Courtesy Photo - Immanuel SalasI was happy for them. As I contemplated whether to stay and fish and maneuver my back casts amongst tourists and the dock’s structure I saw a game warden approach. The fisherman said he thought the fish were legal, but now wasn’t sure. Uh oh, I have to get away from this situation. I smiled and said “Howdy” as I passed the warden on the dock. He headed for the stripers, and I left. Zero fish for two days, lots of ribbing from my friends that now doubt my fishing abilities.

I loved seeing the west coast, wading in its waters and enjoying its views. I also had fantastic food and enjoyed a great nightlife. As a distant third; I enjoyed my friends’ company.

Basically a paid fishing trip with great food and friends, so I can’t complain.
Hope you catch more than you complain –
Immanuel

NOTENow that’s a report, or novella if you like! I appreciate the words and photography from Immanuel, and have another post of his waiting in the wings – flounder at Galveston. Look for that in a couple of days. Highlights for me include; a) caring more about finding his fly after sticking that lady on the backcast, b) placing friends distant third after, c) telling it like it is – on fly shop information accuracy.