24 August 2014

The Tug Is The Drug

After returning home from a big fishing trip, Cody and I have chosen to fish smaller creeks around our area just to see what they hold, how they appear, and how well our kayaks maneuver on these smaller water bodies.  We aren't catching many fish or large fish, but...that tug is the drug that keeps us going back.

We chose South Prong Creek, today, putting in at Spring Park on Lake Waxahachie and heading up creek as far as was navigable, and then kayaking back down to the park.  The CodyBugger was the fly of the day, landing three Largemouth Bass for Cody and a Channel Catfish for me.

04 August 2014

Pink Mooschka

Christiaan Pretorius
Chasing some of the Northern Hemisphere's largest trout led Cody and me to Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula.  While several groups were in Kamchatka from Tailwaters, we chose to accompany Ron Foster to the Zhupanova River. Catching those bruisers with big shoulders and rod bending stamina demanded articulated flies in streamers and mouse patterns. Predominately, black streamers produced the best catches, and thanks to FlyCastaway's guide Christiaan Pretorius of South Africa, and his wonderful fly, I was able to hook, fight, and land two Rainbow Trout of a lifetime--one in Russia and one in Alaska.

Spending his first year on the Zhupanova, Christiaan tied a particularly fabulous pattern. Graciously, Christiaan allowed me to name the fly and to keep the fly. I named the pattern Mooschka and used the color scheme as the descriptor to round out the name.

The Pink Mooschka
I fished the Pink Mooschka in Russia and Alaska's NakNek River with astonishing results. Ultimately, I chose to sacrifice catching bigger fish to bring the fly home safely.  I can't wait to see what Mooschka does to the Bass!
29 7/8", 7 lb. 7 oz.  Zhupanova River Rainbow Trout

27", 7 lb. NakNek River "Chrome" Rainbow Trout

10 May 2014

Dale Curtis Wilkinson, In Memoriam

Dale Curtis Wilkinson
from the Fred DuPre' collection
     For the second week-in-a-row, Saturday found me attending another memorial to celebrate the life of a friend departed.  Many fly fishing friends gathered at Loy Lake for Big Dale's memorial, friends whose faces are growing less in numbers as the number of years shared increases.
     Attendees were fortunate to meet Judy Wilkinson Hooten, Dale's younger sister.  Judy shared many memories of their childhood and growing up in Texas, and while we called Dale "Big Dale," Judy knew Dale as "Big Brother."
     Judy and her dear friend Susie displayed a wonderful picture collage of Big Dale's lifetime enjoyments and embellished with flies he tied. They shared with us Big Dale rarely took photos of people; instead, his photos were of places and its history--Yellowstone, motorcycles, interesting signs, and places.  Our program had a great photo of Big Dale in his pre-teen years finally catching the Largemouth Bass from Loy Lake that he and his Daddy had named "Big George."
Big Dale's Blondes
     We heard from his long-time friends Richard Harmon and L.C. Clower.  We all knew Big Dale to be a generous, kind, and funny soul, and from what we heard, Big Dale spent living his life that way.  Each program had a Cap Spider fly tied by Big Dale attached to it; we were given a Big Dale chartreuse Cap Spider, and then, Cody (who lost the bidding on Big Dale's Blonde flies at the Fort Worth auction but was kindly and surprisingly given them by Dutch, the winner), graciously shared Blondes with everyone.
     After a toast and shot of Jameson Whiskey, which Big Dale told L.C. to not let go to waste, we walked to the Brim bed on Loy Lake's north shore point, and L.C., Judy, and Richard helped spread Big Dale's ashes on his favorite waters.

     Judy graciously ate lunch with us, received a text message during lunch, and said it was from Big Dale--he was treating.  We don't get together as often as we used to do, but Big Dale brought us together on a gorgeous day, let us meet Judy, who shares a strong resemblance to her brother, and still gave us flies with which to land fish.  I know he was smiling and laughing at us as we celebrated his life and our memories of him.
     After eating with friends, Cody and I headed to Ennis' Old Ennis Lake to cast Big Dale flies and catch fish in his memory.  Cody caught four Largemouth Bass and two Brim, and I caught two Largemouth Bass.  Big Dale was known as Brimbum on the Texas Fishing Forum, and we did as he always reminded us "Have fun with this stuff!"

19 April 2014

The Colorado at Colorado Bend State Park

While Cody played golf, I set out for Colorado Bend State Park.  When I walked in the office, I looked towards the spot where the fishing info. board used to hang, and before I could look around in the tiny office for its new location, the park ranger said, "We took down the board.  We can no longer be considered a fishing destination.  Currently, the river is 12 feet low, and Lake Buchanan is 30 feet low.  We didn't even have a White Bass run this year."  My jaw slackened, and before I could ask, the ranger continued saying, "There is a sandbar downstream that runs the width of the river, shore-to-shore, and water's not moving downstream, and the fish can't run upstream."  I inquired about the other species above the sandbar, and he said, "What fish?"  I then inquired about why the water was so brown but did not receive a reply.  Spicewood Springs is looking healthy, though.

There are some positive changes involving the park.  They have updated all their signs--new waysides, new trail markers, a new entrance area with pull-out and covered-area signage, entrance welcome sign, and a gate.  Recent surveying and heavy road equipment indicate some road improvements; hopefully, the entrance road is going to be paved.  Lastly, as I was leaving, the ranger stated that the park was going to become an astronomy site hosting star parties in the near future.

13 April 2014

The Colorado with Kevin

Hill Country Flyfishers.

That is a great statement!  It's also the name of Kevin Hutchison's fly fishing business.  Cody and I love the Hill Country.  Cody and I love fly fishing, and we love to fish with Kevin Hutchison! 

Having previously fished with Kevin on the San Marcos, we decided to fish the Colorado in Bastrop.  The day was overcast, the winds were mild for the majority of the day, temps were in the upper 60's/lower 70s, the company was excellent, and the fishing fabulous!  

We fished top water flies in the morning, large, sub-surface flies mid-morning, top water after lunch, and sinking flies in the afternoon, and fish took everyone of the flies we offered.  We landed Largemouth Bass, Bluegill, and Guadalupe Bass.  One of the observations Kevin made was the number of ingested crawfish we'd seen in the fish we had caught, which was really cool to view.  I have heard Kevin talk many, many times, and he has always advocated looking inside the fish's mouth, because it's a great indicator as to what flies might be successful.  True to his teachings, Kevin tied on a rust-colored, beadhead fly for me, after Cody had been fishing it succesfully. Yield?--glorious results!  

Cody's catches outnumbered mine, even hooking into a Gar, and catching a fair amount of Bluegill--rare lately on the Colorado, but I got to catch the largest Largemouth Bass of my career; she tipped the Boga at 4 lbs!  I also landed a 2 lb, very hefty girl.  I only caught one Bluegill, but it was a pretty fish.  Unfortunately, the Rio Grande Perch eluded us, this day, but the snakes did not.  It's mating season, and the snakes were numerous, including the dreaded Cottonmouth.  We sacrificed a couple flies when those slithering fellows were too near.

I have fished with many guides, but never have I fished with a person who is more gracious, more giving, more knowledgeable about his fishing environment, and generally likes people, as much as Kevin does.

23 February 2014

Shy, Fat Girls

Cody and I set out to try a new White Bass fishing area, but before we had even driven three miles, we came upon a raptor which we had never seen prior to this weekend.  Cody saw the bird of prey on Friday, and then, it was eating a fresh, roadkill opossum in the middle of the road, today.

Mexican Caracara

 We reached our fishing hole, readied our kayaks, and set out.  We received reports that White Bass were running about five miles upstream of our spot and about five miles below us.  We fished near the river's mouth right down the middle.  The wind was a battle at places, but keeping to the middle eased some of the challenege and pushed us back upstream with little paddling on our part. Our strategy played off.  While our numbers were not high, Cody landed very fat, egg-filled girls, with the largest weighing exactly 2 pounds!  Even the buzzards awaited the White Bass by the dozens in the trees lining the river banks.

The water temperatures hovered around 49°F, so our understanding of the White Bass run seems to be holding true.  Cody and I have always heard that the males make their run first awaiting the females.  The hefty females run when the waters are warmer.  We think because they don't move off their nests and need the water temperatures to be warmer, so they can stay warm.  Either way, it will be interesting testing our theory out over the next several weeks.

21 February 2014

2014 White Bass Hunting

Saturday 2/22/2014, Cody and I will be testing out a new spot for the White Bass run.

I hope the Gator Bait gets slimed and a story of numerous fish follows!

09 February 2014

Lake Springfield 2014

TPWD stocks Rainbow Trout throughout the state during the winter months.  Fortunately, one of my favorite places receives an annual stocking the last weekend in January, and Cody and I are usually at the park one week day afternoon immediately after their Trout Derby.  Thanks to Old Man Winter and his freezing cold temperatures or high winds, Cody and I did not make it to Lake Springfield until today.  What a blast we had, after about 30 minutes on the water.

We each started our catches-of-the-day with Redbreast Sunfish.  I snapped a photo of mine; Cody called "Fish on!" and I paddled over to him to snap a photo of his dinner-plate size Redbreast.  I took out the camera, knocked my hand while pulling the camera out, and promptly dropped it.  While waterproof, it's not sink-proof.  Cody doesn't yell, scream, or throw temper fits, but he does have a look of disbelief that can not be mistaken for anything but being upset.  

Cody unhooked both our fish, and we began comtemplating what to do, when I spied the camera. Lake Springfield was about 9 feet deep where we were, and since the water temps were cold, the water was quite clear.  Cody spied the camera, too.  I knew I could swim down and get it, but that meant stripping off the warm water layers, and, well, getting really cold.  I would have done it, especially since it was Cody's camera, but he said we'll think of other options first.  

About then, Everett, the park's camp host whom I had met about a month ago when I took the kayak on its maiden voyage, called from the shore asking if anyone had lost their phone.  I had put my phone in a waterproof pouch and put the pouch in my front pocket, which fell out when I loaded everything up at the parking lot.  Cody paddled over to get my phone and talked with Everett about getting a long pole, when I had an idea.  Everett went to go get some materials to mimic a swimming pool cleaning net; meanwhile, I reeled in my line, removed and stowed my reel, removed the tip section, wrapped my fishing net with the very long, stretchy tether rope around my rod, slowly submerged it, and just like cleaning debris from a pool bottom, slowly scooped that camera into the net.  Boy, was I ever glad to have had my TFO 5# with me!   I hollered to Cody that I had the camera, re-rigged, and we fished.

Cody recorded a three species day, Redbreast Sunfish, Largemouth Bass, and Rainbow Trout, while I had a two species day, no trout, but I was very proud of my first Largemouth Bass of 2014. We paddled all over the 5-acre lake, and I believe I spotted beds.  No fish were on the beds, but I was catching Redbreasts within 15 - 20 feet from them, some with the beginnings of spawning colors.  Cody thought due to the beds' size, they might be Largemouth beds.  Either way, especially with the recent cold temperatures, I was pleasantly surprised to see them.

Year-after-year, we enjoy Fort Parker for its beautiful scenery, many recreational activities, and its wonderful and kind park staff, and today was another splendid day well spent in one of Texas' crown jewels!

21 January 2014

Native Slayer Propel 13 Gator Bait

Originally, Cody and I planned to spend our Sunday going to see Lone Survivor in SDX; however, I happened to check facebook an hour before we were to leave, and Mariner Sails made a post, a post too tempting to by pass.  So, we changed our plans and headed to the Mesquite Rodeo to attend the Texas Tackle, Hunting, and Boat show. Oh, what awaited me, was a kayak for which I had been longing--the Native Slayer PROPEL.

I field-tested the NuCanoe, Wilderness System, and Native Slayer 14 foot in July, but none were set-up for a short person.  Many years previously, I had field tested the Native 2010 Propel, and I could not keep my feet on the pedals for the entire cycle.  After field testing Jackson kayaks in August, I knew they were not the boat for me, either.  I nearly drowned on the White River in August when I flipped a Wilderness System Tarpon 120, so I put kayaks on a hiatus.  I climbed back in that 'yak for Oktoberfisch on the South Llano River, so I knew I still wanted a kayak, but one that was designed for my needs and laundry list of wants.  Kayaking took a back burner again when suddenly, I was not well and was put on bedrest and then major surgery throughout the remainder of 2013.  Going through rehab really put me back in great shape, so I thought I'd look at kayaks, again.

The Mariner Sails booth was at the back of the main showroom floor, and when I rounded the corner, Gator Bait awaited me, and it was love at first site!  Set up on kayak stands, several team members steadied the kayak and allowed me to climb on top, adjust the seat, and pedal just to see if my feet could stay on the pedals for the entire cycle. We joked that it looked like they were pallbearers holding my coffin, which it very well could be--one day, far, far away.  Cody made the purchase as an early Valentine's/belated Thank-you-for-not-dying gift (Cody's words).

We picked it up on Monday, made a few mandatory purchases, and on Sunday, it sailed on its maiden voyage on the Navasota River along TPWD's Limestone Bluffs Paddling Trail at Fort Parker SP and the Confederate Reunion Grounds.  I didn't catch any fish, but I so love this boat.  It's name really isn't Gator Bait; that's the factory name of the paint job--purple, pink, and a little bit of gray!  I haven't named the 'yak, yet, but I will after some RBT--River Bonding Time!

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