19 April 2024

Spring Rains

I happened to be at a Sisters on the Fly Outing this weekend, and though it was one dedicated to playing games, I headed to the river after getting booted from L-R-C quickly.  The rains have filled the area's rivers, which is great to see, but I did not recognize many spots, due to a full flow.  There was much Carp Love going on, but none liked what I was offering.  I did manage to hook some Sunfish and Catfish, so it was a good day.  I hiked about 1 river mile and had to work hard for each catch.

Channel Catfish


14 March 2024

Passing on the Love

 When Fabs #4 and #5 were young, we gave each one of those Sage rods (I do not nor will I ever again fish Sage) for kids; one was bubblegum pink and the other was bright blue.  They would fish with us, but finding areas to fish where they could safely backcast was not an easy endeavor.  Fab #5 liked fishing but just decided he wanted to do conventional tackle.  We've taken him many places to fish, but we were so surprised a few weeks before Thanksgiving when Fab #5 texted and asked for a fly rod.  We actually thought he was joking and called his sister to ask if this was something he really wanted, or it was just a funny, Ha Ha text.  Evidently, he really wanted it, because Sister begged us to get it for him, so he would stop talking about wanting one.

When you gift someone a fly set-up, we think you need to take them fishing, so we booked a guide trip with KC Williams out of Living Waters Fly Shop and headed to the Texas Hill Country.  We told KC to focus on Fab #5, and that for the most part, Cody and I could fend for ourselves; this trip was all about teaching him to catch fish today, but to also transfer what he learned so he could fish wherever he could find places near college and fish on his own successfully.

KC was great; the Hill Country was great; the weather was great; and Cody and I were outfished by the lad!  Couldn't ask for a better day topped off with a BBQ dinner at Cooper's.  When we got back to the ranch, he headed off to fish the Catfish Pond and caught three catfish on his own.  We didn't even know he had gone.

The other item to note, is that I fished a new-to-me rod that I won at the Dallas Fly Fishers' 2024 Auction.  Due to the generous Legacy gifting, I got to bid on and win a rod from Tom Klaasen, a beloved member who passed away in 2023.  I had sat with Tom at the 2022 Holiday Party and heard Tom talk of this particular 3# rod, so my bidding was one of sentimentality, as well as needing to add a 3# rod to my arsenal.  As with all my rods, it needed its new name, and thus, I named Tom's Orvis rod "TKO" which stands for Tom Klaasen's Ovation.  I loved this 2 piece little jewel that was a definite knock-out with the fish.

UPDATE:  It absolutely makes my heart happy when we receive texts letting us know he's been out casting and fishing and catching, and we are going on a saltwater Redfish outing before he begins his summer internship!



One of many species for the day--White Bass, Guadalupe Bass,
Channel Catfish, and Sunfish


Guadalupe Bass

Using the new-to-me TKO rod


Cooper's BBQ

24 April text


11 May Text



24 February 2024

Winter's Late Rains

 Winter and Spring are colliding with one another in February and March, but the rains, Oh! how fortunate we have been.  Our water tables are full; our streams and creeks and rivers flow once again after a tough summer.  Right now, it is good to be a Texas fly fisher!  The days I have set aside to fish are turning out to be less fortuitous, so I'm glad I'm not an even bigger gambler.  We had several warm days, but the day I had to go fishing, a cold front had blown across the prairie, not as bad as the one when we fished the Lampasas the week previously, but enough of a front to make the fishing once again a challenge.  No matter, to see the Limestone Chalk Bluffs, the riverbed completely full from bank-to-bank, and the restorative peace of a moving river all filled my soul with great joy.  

I hit a few spots where other anglers were but had no luck, so I quickly moved downstream for more solitude.  Get to my favorite spot and WHOA! what a difference nice rainfall makes.  I did not recognize the water, as the area was so different.  No fish holding here, today, so I moved on downstream and found a nice, calm and deep pool.  First cast, FishOn!, but I didn't know it, and the take was so subtle that I was stunned to see a Bluegill at the end of my line.  Definitely the softest Sunfish take I've ever experienced.  This was about the tenth cast of the day, so I thought I'd be hammering the Sunfish; well, I thought wrong!  The day's fishing was slow, but I did end up with several Sunfish and Spotted Bass to hand in a beautiful and healthy and flowing river (the secret was a fly with legs regardless the color).  My cup runneth over!

Pre-spawn Bluegill

Spotted Bass

Spotted Bass


18 February 2024

Lampasas River Outing

 Oh how finnicky Mother Nature can be.  All this week, the northern Hill Country enjoyed warm weather, so much so that the Redbuds have really been blooming, which means...Those Fat Girls are uh runnin!  That's probably my favorite springtime saying, "When the Redbuds are blooming, the White Bass are running."  Stocker trout season with TPWD is coming to an end, fish on beds, fish running upstream, serious Carp Love with aerial cavorting, and Big Fish, it's all happening in the spring.

Much to my chagrin, Old Man Winter and Mother Nature must have had a serious disagreement, because the temperatures dropped 30 degrees on Saturday, and while they warmed on Sunday, it was still 20 degrees colder than what the previous week experienced.

Using the Parrie Haynes Equestrian Center private access, we put in just upstream of the Old Maxdale Bridge.  First, Kudos to the Bell County Commissioners.  I have not seen this area looking so clean and litter-free, but closing the Old Maxdale Bridge from public access gave the area a tremendous upgrade.  Next, we received a report while donning our waders that four miles downstream, White Bass were being caught.  With spirits high, I set off on a two mile hike downstream to see if I could locate any of those White Bass.  I saw bed activity but no fish.  I targeted the east bank as the sun was shining on this bright, clear afternoon.  I eventually caught a small Largemouth Bass, but that had to have been the slowest take I ever experienced.  I casted upstream and just the nicely flowing Lampasas carry my fly downstream.  I was as tight the bank as I could be while still being in the water.  Hit, wait, wait, wait; softer hit, wait, wait, wait; twitched the rod, and FishOn!  Phew and finally and thank you, Largemouth Bass.  I did not want to be skunked on my first fishing outing of 2024.  Same scenario about 100 yards downstream, and this time, I landed a Spotted Bass.  By this time, the sun casted some long shadows, and the trek against the current required a little more energy, so I headed back upstream, happy I caught fish but disappointed that I had not yet found the White Bass.

Rainfall made for a nice flow

Bedding activity

Largemouth Bass--first fish of 2024!

Spotted Bass


11 June 2023

DFF June Outing

We headed to the Elm Fork of the Trinity River Tailrace just below the Lake Lewisville Dam on Sunday for our monthly outing.  While the ambient temperature was a little warm, the water temperature was a nice, cool 74 degrees F.  As they so often are when the dam is generating, the Buffalo were thick as thieves, and after about 15 minutes of fishing, I landed one.  Cody came to help, and I finally have a decent picture with a Smallmouth Buffalo, though I need to adjust my Buff better, so that I don't look so much like a nun.  Though many Buffalo were hooked and several landed, the carp would not take any offerings I made.  Cody was able to hook two with a CodyBugger, and farther downstream, he hooked something that fought in slow motion with slow deliberate headshakes.  Somehow, whatever species it was came unbuttoned and left us pondering what in the world Cody hooked.  It was another great day on the water.






10 May 2023

98th Species and the Countdown is On

Today was the DFF outing to the Brazos River.  Several attendees cancelled due to the rains that moved in 13 hours early.  It wasn't a heavy rain, a hard rain, or falling fast enough to raise the river water levels.  It did affect the water clarity, so it was a mostly blind casting kind of day.  That was okay by me, as I hooked five species, landing four, and none were Sunfish, except the odd Largemouth Bass that has a possible distended jaw and no traditional LMB markings.

I had seen what I though was a carp playing about in skinny water near downed trees holding on the upstream side of a bridge pillar.  I targeted it, but no luck, so I began fishing the waters behind a big boulder.  Nip, nip then a pick up and recast, and BAM, FishOn.  It what was a serious comedy of errors, I somehow managed to land the Bigmouth Buffalo and snap photos.  Still amazed the fish didn't come unbuttoned, but it didn't, and so, I hit the 98 mark.  I added a White Bass, a Channel Catfish, and a strangely marked Largemouth Bass, and then targeted one and enjoyed six additional hook-ups with Spotted Gar.  It was a marvelous day on the water!


15 April 2023

DFF's Sugar Ridge Ranch Outing

 The club's favorite, annual outing is to Sugar Ridge Ranch during peak Bluebonnet season and the Ennis Bluebonnet Festival.  Always well-attended, the four ponds and wildlife offers an almost-guaranteed day of catching, but this year, I learned of a new skill I have--I can mimic a turkey hen effectively enough to garner the attention of a Tom Turkey! 😁  I also petted a hen turkey, worked on my roll cast, and hooked the same bass I landed five minutes previously.

We loved another day at Sugar Ridge and appreciate the kindness and graciousness of our hostess and hosts.  



















09 April 2023

Nolan River's Not White Bass

 As Cody was out-of-town visiting his family this Easter, Momma and I enjoyed a good, but quite Easter dinner and afternoon fun.  After hearing from several DFF members who attended the March Nolan River Outing, I decided to fish the Nolan at a time many found most productive this odd-weather spring.  Going prepared with White Bass flies, I was shocked at the low, but steadily flowing waters.  Where I caught fish in previous years were high-and-dry this year, and I could not find the White Bass.  Not to be dismayed for long, I kept seeing Gar, almost stepping on some of them.  Keeping on my rather flashy fly, I set to work.

In my life, I've had six gar hook-ups with only one being luck.  The other Five were purposeful targets in the last two years.  I don't target gar the way I hear most presenters discuss, which is a "Crossing the T" method, with the gar being the stem and dragging the fly perpendicularly to the gar, the "T" crossbar.  The reason I don't do this comes from a SCUBA show I saw friend William Seals give at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center (and many times since his 2013 presentation).  When the diver would feed the fish, even though the bait was dead, every time the Gar fed, it sidled on its prey, and when it ate, it was a quick jerk of the head to no more than the 11:00 or 1:00 o'clock position.  Once, I saw the gar backpedal to get in align in order to feed.  Sometimes, they align close to their hinge--prey was small--and sometimes, they aligned closer to their nose tip--prey was larger, but regardless, they ate from the side and never head-on.  It remains the same for whether they are in captivity or the wild.

I typically find gar in slack water, near the shore, surrounded with good cover.  I spotted one 15 feet from me with his head facing downstream; I cast downstream about 20 feet and parallel to the gar, pulled the fly upstream past his left side at a bout a five inch, constant but not fast retrieve.  He did not take the fly, but he reacted, as his fins started moving, but he held his position.  I cast again, lined the fish, got the fly line off his body (he never moved or reacted to the fly line), pulled the fly parallel to the gar, and he ate hard, close to his hinge.  I strip set; he thrashed, and the fly worked its way closer to the tip, but a harder strip set stuck.  I got him in the net.  Once in, he opened his mouth, the fly dropped out, and I tried to take him from the net for a photo, but it was just too awkward, so I snapped his photo in my net.  Voila! not only was this my first gar to-hand, Mr. Spotted Gar made my 97th species on the fly!




30 March 2023

DFF Outing

Spring has sprung within the Dallas Fly Fishers and so have the springtime outings.  We held our first White Bass Run Outing last week, and this week we decided to fish the ponds and Brazos River access at Latham Springs Baptist encampment.

The Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrush were in early bloom full and thick, and the fish ate hungrily and often in spite of the quite cool temperatures.  River and lake fishing were healthy and robust.  If we had kept the number of Crappie we caught, what a fish fry we could have had and the numbers they would have fed!  Amongst the successes were field testing flies and catching my 96th species on the fly, an Orangespotted Sunfish.  In addition, I think I now have caught all of the Sunfish species swimming in Texas' waters.  They are such fun, particularly due in part to the aggressive nature with which they attack a fly.  

The club outings are fun to enjoy with fellow fishy folk, and rather sadly, this was Cody's and my first foray into an event and fishing this year.  Though late on wetting a line, at least we started with a bang!






My 96th species on the fly!




29 March 2023

2023's First Line Wetting

 Life has been busy, and Cody and I have just not had the opportunity to fish.  I had to visit a fellow DFF Board Member, and he graciously provided us with rigged rods and allowed us to fish his ponds.  We only had about 30 minutes, but we were guided to just the right spots.  Thankful for good, fishy people and to finally get to fish!  We do have an outing tomorrow where we will get to devote the day to fishing, so all will be well.




24 September 2022

LLELA

 The Dallas Fly Fishers held a Basic Fly Fishing Education class today at the Lake Lewisville Environmental Learning Area.  I brought my fishing rig to target those carp and buffalo that abound in the Lake Lewisville Tailrace.  I had targeted these species in the Spring after our entomology day but came up empty handed.

These species are everywhere, take just a bit to spook, and I don't think it was possible for me to catch one after the fiasco in the spring.

I fished for two-and-a-half hours before giving up and calling last cast.  I had hooked several, spooked dozens several times over, but I just wasn't feeling the love.  I used a brass conehead CodyBugger, cast one last time where I began my casting that day and yielded nothing for my efforts.

I don't know why now or what the combination was, but it was FIshOn!  Several others watched who had also fished for these oh so picky fish and hollered congratulations form the shore.

I netted it and took a weak selfie and added my 96th species to the list!



06 March 2021

Springtime with the Tenkara

 I had hopes that my hand would have been healed by now; it is healing, slowly and steadily with more steps forward and fewer backwards, so I'll take that.  One difficulty I'm still experiencing is the ability to grab a fly line and retrieve a fighting fish, regardless if it's a small or large fish, that strong pincher movement is just not happening.  However, TenkaraUSA keeps me on the water, my rod tip bent, fish in the net, and provides me with happy days.  I'm now up to three species on the rod--Sunfish, Largemouth Bass (I know they are in the Sunfish family, but it's an IGFA species, so I'm counting it!), and Nolan River White Bass.

Sunfish--Bluegill

Largemouth Bass

Largemouth Bass 2

"The Claw" at work

Fighting fish with The Claw is hard work

Nolan River White Bass






23 August 2020

The Gift of Tenkara

2020's summer has not been kind to our family.  One instance was me breaking my dominant arm while fly fishing in Pass Creek near South Fork, Colorado my first day on vacation!  The following week, I had surgery to repair both my radius and ulna.  Wanting to be able to still enjoy fly fishing, I began seriously investigating Tenkara Fly Fishing, since that can be accomplished with one arm.  While researching, my uncle called to talk, check on me, and wish me a speedy recovery, and during our conversation, I enthusiastically told my uncle all about Tenkara Fly Fishing in great detail.  A few weeks later and with the help of my cousins, my uncle gifted me with a Tenkara USA Rhodo Rod and Tenkara Rod Co. Crossbreed fly line.  Our postman, Rance, had no idea the joy he delivered when he brought that rod and fly line to our doorstep!

Still incapable of quite a lot, I couldn't rig the rod myself, so Cody had to also learn about Tenkara lines.  Having watched several videos himself, Cody set to tying knots, adjoining lines, and tying my fly (a CodyBugger christened my rod), and we headed to a very small pond in our town.  Neither of us had fished the pond, but we figured there just had to be fish in it.

Finding a shady spot near a downed branch, I made my first cast and was rewarded with several hits.  Talk about excitement!  I continued to adjust to the Tenkara-style of fly fishing, though not in the traditional sense, as I was fishing warm water that wasn't moving!  Finding another shady spot with overhanging branches and switching to a topwater grasshopper, I had fishing slurping, hitting, and aggressively slamming that fly, which now has little bite marks in the foam body and one less antenna and leg.  Still though, I had no hook-ups.  Cody selected a wet fly pattern with a size 16 hook, and it was FishOn!  I hooked a Green Sunfish first, but I failed to execute the hookset correctly, so I had an LDR (long-distance release).  I did manage to land my first fish--a small but aggressive Bluegill.  Then, at dusk, I told Cody "Five more casts," and on the first of the five, Bam! FishOn!  A bigger, hungrier Bluegill grabbed my fly on the second twitch.  I thought I'd exercise my winged hand by trying to hold the line in it and the rod in my good hand, but that didn't work too well.  However, Cody patiently helped me get the fish and the rod situated and then snapped my photo.  My fish weren't World Record fish, but they brought me great joy and taught me a thing or two.  

I have much to learn about Tenkara, but it was a great christening!  My Dad, who passed away suddenly in June, put my first fly rod in my hand to help me heal from breast cancer.  My uncle put my first Tenkara rod in my hand to help me heal from a broken arm.  Fly fishing truly is a powerful gift!






30 September 2018

Mongolia, Julia's #1 Bucketlist Trip

21-30 September 

When I was in the third grade at C.C. Duff Elementary, Miss Winkles' lesson on countries allowed us to select a country other than the USA about which we would learn.  I chose Mongolia.  I have no idea why, but I knew I wanted Mongolia.  I was the nerdy little kid that when the National Geographic magazines arrived, the adults handed me the maps, and off I would go to my room, pouring endless hours into studying that edition's map.  So when we were given the opportunity, I did not need to study a map or a globe, I just raised my hand and asked for Mongolia.  Fast-forward to my college days where I studied for a Bachelor of Arts in History, specializing in Military History.  In 1988, I took a Russian history class where I had to write a paper about the Russian Communism 1930s purge years, and in that paper, I discussed the decimation of the Dayan Derkh Buddhist Monastery, which was located in northern Mongolia.  Fast-forward again to September 2018, when Cody booked us a trip to fly fish the Eg-Uur River Watershed and attend the Golden Eagle festival in Mongolia.  I can't say when, but for decades I have wanted to catch a Lenok, being that this salmonoid has been around since the Glacial Epoch period, and a Taimen, the largest salmonid species on the planet, both of whose populations only seem healthy in Mongolia and Russia's Lake Baikal region, which once belonged to Mongolia.  We chose to book with Sweetwater Travel due to its conservation efforts along the Eg-Uur fishery protecting 110 river miles.  What I learned while there:  Mongolia is both rugged and beautiful.  Its people love color and are hospitable, kind, and resourceful.  There are nine animals for every one person in the entire country.  Mongolia has the second largest coal reserves and a significantly large plutonium reserve had just been newly discovered earlier that summer in Mongolia and thought to be a part of the Kazakhstan mine; the people were very nervous about both Russia's and China's reactions to the discovery. The biggest surprise for me, I learned Sweetwater also rebuilt the Dayan Derkh Monastery, which we were allowed to visit.  It was an epic trip for us.  Cody caught his 100th species on the fly, a Lenok, photographed the Golden Eagle festival in Bayan-Olgii aimag, learned about the What 3 Words app as we drove across Mongolia where there were no roads, and ate new-to-him meats.  I also added to my species list, saw ancient Deerstones, petted a yak, enjoyed a camel, saw so many amazing birds, and celebrated our 8th anniversary there.  There are still more places to tick on our Bucket Lists, but to have visited the #1 choice?  Satisfaction, glorious reverie and satisfaction, indeed.


A person was paid to come add coal and stoke our fire; we were not supposed 
to handle any of the coal or keep the fire going.  By 4 am, it was cold.

Wool rugs kept everything warm and were hand woven



Camp Kitchen and Entertaining Area

Camp Bathhouse and Toilets


September Full Moon

Cody's 1st Taimen, Day 1

Cody's 2nd Taimen, Day 2

Day 4's Taimen

Taimen Release

Telltale white mouth

Julia's 1st Taimen, Day 4

Final Taimen, Day 6

Last day:  Julia's IGFA World Record, 6kg/12lb Tippet class, Taimen weighed 7 lb, 12 oz.

Celebrating successes

Last day:  Cody's 1st Lenok and 100th species on the fly

Last Day:  Julia's 1st Lenok

Dayan Derkh Monastery


Last night's entertainment was a musical performance from nearby villagers (2 hours away)

I was taught Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and the opening to We Wish You a Merry Christmas

Sunrise over the Eg-Uur Watershed





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