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.
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!
On Thursday, we took a break from fishing and rode the train from Chama, NM to Antonito, CO. It was a great adventure! We returned to fishing on Friday. We headed back to The Meadows to try and fish some areas we didn't hit on Wednesday; Cody fished it well, while I only had one species, but I got to add to the species list with my catch. After enjoying our packed lunch, we headed up above Platoro Reservoir and fished the headwaters. We were amazed at how well hidden the fish were in the faster moving headwaters, and how close to us they were--9 feet or closer. Interestingly, we caught no Rainbows.
One of Cody's Several Browns--Love the Sparkles
Another Brownie for Cody
Conejos River between The Meadows and The Pocket Water
After first learning of the Conejos River and Conejos River Anglers from TroutFest 2015, we joined TWFFers in Southern Colorado and booked our day. Our guide was K.K., and he took us into the Rio Grande National Forest to fish the Meadow and the Pocket Water sections below Platoro Village. The morning action was grand, but due to unseasonably high temps, drought conditions, and fishing pressure, the afternoon action was slow in the public waters. Still, we landed quality fish numbering in to the double digits, so it was an excellent day of guided, wade fishing!
To escape from the Texas heat, participate in TWFF's unofficial outing, and to redeem our Conejos River trip won at the Fort Worth Fly Fishers auction from the Conejos River Anglers, Cody and I headed northwest; Cody pulled the RV, and I pulled the kayaks. We camped at the Conejos River RV Park just east of the Rio Grande National Forest for a week. We fished on our own, with Conejos River Anglers' guide K.K., from our kayaks on Platoro Lake, and waded the Conejos River headwaters into the reservoir. Temperatures were mild; fishing was grand; and the wildfires had not yet begun.
and I headed northwest to Cutty's RV park on Hayden Creek in Coaldale, Colorado
to fish the spring pre-runoff Caddis Hatch. I was attending a Sisters on
the Fly event, the 6th annual Caddis Hatch event hosted by Michelle Cummings,
and Cody and I planned to go to Eagle's Nest, NM for Pike afterwards.
Weather prevented our trip to NM, but we certainly enjoyed fishing both the
Arkansas River and the smaller but equally fun Texas Creek. The Arkansas'
cut through glaciation geology takes fly fishers through a majestic beauty
backdropped by snowcapped Rocky Mountain peaks. While not big fish, the
Arkansas boasts some excellent dry fly fishing, partly due to the ongoing
caddis hatch. Not yet warm enough to move the fish to depths of the
river, we casted to and caught fish in some pretty skinny water, skinny enough
that we could see their flashes as they turned on to and took our flies.
Seeing the resilience of these trout was pretty amazing, especially how healthy
one particular Brown Trout was seeing a bird of prey's talon had harpooned it
previously. We enjoyed our guided trip with Matt from Ark Anglers, as he
put us on many trout, a total of 27 boated for the picture-perfect day.
next day we took our very small rods and headed to two creeks, Hayden Creek at
Cutty's RV Park, and then farther east to Texas Creek. Regrettably, the
slope of Hayden Creek was a little too steep, and the water flowing through it
was too fast with almost no pools that would allow trout to hold in the creek.
So, we moved farther east to Texas Creek, where we learned is not at the Texas
Creek Recreation Area, which is where Texas Creek confluences with the
Arkansas. Instead, we headed down Colorado State Highway 69. Using
the 4WD, we made our way down a dirt road to a nice meadow parking area.
Encompassed by shrubs meant wading in the creek, and moving upstream provided
great access to small, wild trout who greedily ate size 12 Elk Hair Caddis
flies. Aggressive fish, regardless the size, offer amazing fishing on small
weight rods, an experience which I always enjoy.
Cody and I took our new Lance RV south to Junction to participate in the 14th Oktoberfish hosted by the Fredericksburg Fly Fishers. This was our 11th Oktoberfisch and the second one at the South Llano RV Park. We had a good time, appreciated the improvements made by the RV park, and enjoyed fishing one of our favorite Texas rivers, whose health continues to improve from the fires, flooding, and drought.
We put in at our usual spot, the South Llano River State Park. We endured quite a crowd and high river traffic on Saturday due to the Llano River Alliance Watershed's earlier announcement on their social media sites.
Texas Parks and Wildlife released 15 retired Guadalupe Bass broodstock back into the South Llano River on October 17, 2017. The broodstock were used to successfully restore the genetically hybridized South llano population. To celebrate this and other recent conservation successes for our state fish, Llano River Watershed Alliances is partnering with Texas Parks and Wildlife and Bass Pro Shops on a prize giveaway in which prizes will be presented to anglers who catch these Guadalupe Bass and return a tag Eligible Guadalupe Bass will have registered TPWD Floy Tags. If you catch one of these fish, please clip (do not pull) the tag and take a photo with the fish! Beginning October 17, 2017 and continuing until December 31, 2018, any angler who catches a tagged Guadalupe Bass from the South Llano River will receive their choice of prizes from an assortment of fly fishing gear donated by Bass Pro Shops.1
Our friend Russell Hustead caught the first tagged fish on Thursday; one was caught on Saturday, and bird had killed a tagged fish but the tag was submitted. However, the crowds trying to catch one of these fish put intense pressure, and the Guads were rather shy on Saturday.
Friday, I had fished the stretch of river that was the southernmost end of the former Morgan Shady campground to just west of the bridge and hammered the Redbreast Sunfish. They destroyed my Bonefish Bitter.
8 Inch Redbreast Sunfish
Healthy, pure strain Guadalupe Bass
Demolished Bonefish Bitter--its legs are gone
Cody decided upon a new strategy this year, which was to put in and then by-pass the fishing at the state park. In years past, we would spend so much time fishing at the top part of the run, that we ended up just kayaking through the bottom part. Cody also targeted all the sideways and byways of the river, fishing the places others snubbed. We also decided to stay close together this trip. Cody slayed the fish; I only did okay, because I didn't fulfill my motto, "I Come to the South for the Rio," but Cody caught some beautiful Rio Grande Perch. They are some of my favorite freshwater fish. I did catch the most numbers of Largemouth Bass I have ever caught on the South Llano, and I think Nick of the Alamo Fly Fishers, who also said he caught the most LMBs he's ever caught, was right in that the high presence of kayaks and numbers of anglers really spooked the Guadalupe Bass in to hiding, Saturday.
Cody with a Guadalupe Bass; something was wrong with its back
One of Cody's many Rio Grande Perch
4 Inch Bluegill on a Bonefish Bitter
4 1/4 inch Fingerling Guadalupe Bass on the Red-lipped CodyBugger
Hybridized Guadalupe-Smallmouth Bass, what the Alliance & TPWD are trying to eliminate
Pure Strain Guadalupe Bass
At the end of the day, Saturday, I was making my way down the "Park Run" (where I fished Friday from RV park boundary to RV park Boundary), when I heard another water craft pretty close behind me. I didn't really pay attention to the boat, until I heard its pilot speak. It was our friend Kevin Hutchison in his blue pontoon. I let Kevin have the lead and watched him fish while we chatted, since Grad School had really interfered with my fishing the past two years. The days cooler weather combined with the high angler pressure just did not produce the fish it did the previous day. Regardless, I loved the rare treat of getting to see Kevin fish instead of being the guide.
We enjoyed our time in the Hill Country once again and are looking forward to next year's trip. However, we hope the Alliance contest occurs after Oktoberfisch, so we don't have to "combat fish."
1. Llano River Watershed Alliance. "Celebrating Conservation Milestones for the South Llano River and the State Fish of Texas." Last modified 21 October 2017. Accessed 23 October 2017. https://www.llanoriver.org/guadalupe-bass."↩
Cody could not be home for our 7th Anniversary, so for our anniversary, he gave me use of his car and encouraged me to go fishing in Backwoods' Trinity Bass Battle Tournament, which occurs every other Sunday through 12 November 2017! So, I set my alarm, got up at 4:00 a.m., loaded Cody's car with all kinds of kayak and fly fishing paraphernalia (my little hybrid can't tow), and headed off to the Panther Pavilion area in Fort Worth. I had a great day, even though I was the only fly fisher, and I was really excited to see a nice number of women fishing.
I didn't place, but I had my best tournament, E-V-E-R! However, I couldn't get credit for all that I caught, because something happened when I snapped the photo of my 18 inch Largemouth. It's just a white screen, and for those that don't know me, there ain't nothing white on my kayak. Even my Hawg Trough is marked up with black, blue, and red lines, and my 'Yak, well, it's purple, pink, and gray; I kid you not! I wore blue shorts and my pink Breast Cancer Awareness fishing shirt and sun visor. I'm telling ya, I have no idea what happened on that photo, but I know I caught it, so the memory's mine. Officially, I submitted 46.75 total inches; unofficially, I caught 64.75 inches. Sadly, even if my big one had counted, I still would not have placed. Big Bass was 20.25 inches with a two-way tie for third, with each fisherman submitting an 18.50 inch bass. Overall winner today submitted an 80.something inches scorecard! In Texas, Fall doesn't mean much, until it's time to fish, and then, it means everything because The Bite is happening!
Phone screenshot showing a photo was taken; it even says "Live" with that icon