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GRTU Guadalupe River Chapter
Trout Unlimited Newsletter
January 2003

P.O. Box 701864 / San Antonio TX 78270-1864 / (512) 261-4409 /
Published three times each year: January, April, October / Number 71 / January 2003
Editor: Jay Aler / Contributors: Scott Graham, Shelley Marmon, David Schroeder, Jimmy Moore,
Dwight Corley, Harry Briscoe, Ron McAlpin, Jay Aler, Lawrence Lothrop, Bob Tuttle
Hylmar Karbach, Michael Dymond
Meetings: Fourth Saturday of the above months

Officers     Directors  
President Ray Chapa (210) 680-0912 Carl Bohn Shelley Marmon
VP Chapter Affairs Jimmy Moore
(254) 751-1285 Ron McAlpin
Doug Ming
VP Fisheries Scott Graham (512) 847-6222 Oscar Dupre Jim Roberts
VP Membership Scott Thompson (830) 931-3900 Dave Gutweiler David Schroeder
Secretary Karen Gebhardt (830) 980-7580 Hylmar Karbach Jr. Marian Tilson
Treasurer Michael J. Scott (210) 496-6911 Doug Kierklewski
Newsletter Jay Aler (713) 784-0443 Ex Officio: Billy Trimble
TU Liaison & Mailings Bob Tuttle (512) 261-4409

Index of Articles 

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Court Backs GBRA Plan

Michael Cary wrote an article for The Herald-Zeitung dated November 01, 2002. It is reprinted with permission.

"The 3rd District Texas Court of Appeals ruled Thursday in favor of the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority's permit amendment request to draw up to 90,000 acre-feet of water from Canyon Lake. Its ruling affirms an earlier 353rd District Court ruling that rejected all challenges to GBRA's Canyon permit amendment brought by Friends of Canyon Lake Inc.

The group consists of about 1,000 lake area residents who oppose GBRA's proposal to increase its yield from the lake to supply cities such as Bulverde, Boerne, Fair Oaks Ranch and other entities, including a proposed Professional Golf Association golf course facility in northern Bexar County. Friends of Canyon Lake was organized after residents learned in 2001 about GBRA's permit request from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to increase its yield from 50,000 to 90,000 acre-feet of water. An acre foot equals 325,851gallons. Thursday's appellate decision addressed whether GBRA properly posted its intention to file the permit amendment with TCEQ and whether the Canyon Lake group had the right to challenge the amendment without first exhausting its administrative remedies. Court of Appeals Chief Justice Marilyn Aboussie found GBRA had properly posted notice of its intention to seek an increase in yield from the reservoir. Notices had been published in the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung and in a San Antonio newspaper in 1997. Friends of Canyon Lake Inc. had originally protested the permit with TCEQ, which ruled the Friends had not filed its position with the state agency within 30 days of publication of the notice.

`The Texas Court of Appeals' decision today ensures that Canyon reservoir's resources are fully utilized to help meet the needs of the GBRA service area and surrounding region,' GBRA General Manager Bill West said Thursday. West said he hoped FOCL would drop its opposition to GBRA's permit application.

`Before GBRA can issue bonds for the project, however, the FOCL lawsuit must be finally concluded,' West said. `We sincerely hope FOCL will stop its harmful delaying tactics and decide not to pursue any further its baseless challenge to the TNRCC's (TCEQ) decision to issue the Canyon Permit Amendment. FOCL's delaying tactics are only hurting its neighbors who badly need the water right now.' The state has been on GBRA's side of the issue since the beginning, Bob Wickman, spokesman for FOCL, said Thursday. `This was not unexpected. When we were at the appeals presentation, we noticed the presentation for GBRA was made by attorneys from the attorney general's office and from TCEQ.'

`With that kind of horsepower pushing the GBRA platform, we know now that GBRA will be capable of literally draining the lake all the way to the river bottom,' Wickman said. Wickman said the Canyon Lake area economy would be devastated, and Comal Independent School District will lose a substantial tax base if GBRA pumps additional water from the reservoir. Bulverde Alderman Bob Barton said the ruling is good news for the western Comal County city.

`That means we would get 400-acre-feet per year from Canyon Lake,' Barton said. `It will greatly supplement what we have at this point in time from wells in the Trinity Aquifer.' The Bexar Metropolitan Water District in July 1999 had to send in more than 300 tanker trucks of water into Bulverde Hills to supply its residents during a drought period. Wickman said FOCL members would have to meet to decide whether to continue to appeal the ruling at the Texas Supreme Court or file a lawsuit against GBRA in a federal court." Bob Tuttle notified us that shortly after the foregoing publication, the Associated Press reported that a water war was brewing on the Guadalupe River of Central Texas. According to AP, the San Antonio Water System, San Antonio River Authority and Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority are expected to seek a permit to divert as much as 289,600 acre-feet of water per year from the Guadalupe River. Seeking the permit to do so would force state officials at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to choose between San Antonio's water needs and the request of the San Marcos River Foundation.

SMRF had successfully filed for water rights for the sole purpose of preserving the flow of fresh water into the San Antonio Bay, an estuary for valuable commercial and recreational fish and shellfish species and the winter home of the endangered whooping crane. The river foundation requested the rights to 1.15 million-acre feet from the Guadalupe River a year. That's the amount recommended by Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Texas Water Development Board, based on scientific studies, to maintain enough for the bay's needs. Otherwise there may not be enough water available to provide for large numbers of homes and businesses in urban areas more than 100 miles away, and, at the same time, to support the bay's ecosystem and the commercial and recreational fisheries that depend upon it." Later, David Schroeder added that, "In an important development that could enable new summertime flows for the Guadalupe next summer, the Texas Court of Appeals ruled in favor of GBRA and its new water right to Canyon

Lake. In the summer of 2001, GBRA and GRTU reached a contractual agreement for additional summertime flows to protect trout. Implementing this clause could only take place when the water right becomes `final'. Now the Friends of Canyon Lake will have to decide if they will appeal the ruling to the Texas Supreme Court, or Federal Court. If there is no appeal, the water right would be declared final before next summer. This will enable protection for the trout fishery toward the 2nd crossing, and the increased low rates would enable water recreation, and dependent businesses to benefit. It would be an important boost to the local economy which was devastated by last summer's floods."

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Fisheries Report

Although the flood itself didn't appear to have wiped out the trout fishery, when they dropped the flow to begin the clean up, that did. I had received a few reports of trout being caught after the flood, some substantiated, some not. After the lake reached conservation pool, the flow was lowered to facilitate the clean up, the TPWD thermometers in the river showed spikes of 85 degrees. TPWD also took the shock boat out in December and yielded no trout, now this doesn't mean there weren't any, they just didn't find any. For those of you who don't yet know; there was so much water going into Canyon Lake (enough to fill the lake from dry 3 times!) that we lost all of the cold water and now had a warm water lake as a result. We were very reluctant as to weather we would even be able to stock this year, these cold fronts blowing through have really helped a lot. The river temperature in early December was 56 degrees. As of this writing (Dec 11) the ban on river recreation has been lifted. GO FISH! TPWD as well as GRTU have already started restocking the river with trout. As always, I am on the hunt for a brown trout source, I have managed to secure some browns for next season, but the only ones I could find for this year were gonna cost about $24 per fish, ouch! Our rainbow trout egg program with TPWD has been put on hold until finalization of the GBRA agreement for summer flows. At the point of resumption we are going to try to shift that program over to completely brown trout eggs, and continue the rainbow program with stocking larger fish.

I think that although the river looks like a tornado went through it right now, in the long run we are going to have a much better trout fishery because of this flood. Reason? I would say there were hundreds, if not millions, of tons of rock and gravel that washed in from the canyon that the spillway created. This will give us three things: More and better habitat for bugs (troutfood). More and better habitat for trout (ambush points, more gravel for spawning). And thirdly, a shallower river overall which will cause the cold water to travel faster through the stream bed and therefore reduce the potential for warming down stream, same volume of water + less surface area = greater velocity (pretty good theory, huh?). Although the immediate loss and devastation was epic, I think everything happens for a reason and mother nature just wanted to make a donation to GRTU:) Be Safe Out There.

By Scott Graham, Vice President of Fisheries

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Flow Committee Report

Our mission to protect the Guadalupe trout fishery has moved one step closer to reality. In July of 2001, Guadalupe Blanco River Authority and GRTU reached a contractual agreement to double the minimum flow rate from Canyon Dam during the critical May through September warm-weather period. Higher flow translates to cooler water temperatures farther downstream. If you think of a bottleneck, the bottleneck to the potential of the Guadalupe trout fishery has always been the lowest summertime flow- usually around 90 cfs. The magnitude-of this agreement would open up that bottleneck and create a year-round trophy trout habitat in more than 10 miles of river below Canyon Dam. This is taking it up to the next level. We have seen what the future may hold in those years when flow rates were high during the first half of the summer and the trout fishing was outstanding. The problem always occurred in August and September as flow rates were reduced to minimum levels. This time, flows will continue during the entire critical period preserving an outstanding trophy trout fishery.

The flow provision of the contract, however, will not take effect until the court finalizes the new GBRA water right. In November, the Texas Court of Appeals dismissed the Friends of Canyon Lake lawsuit seeking to overturn the GBRA water right. This could effectively put an end to the legal contest. It is conceivable that the matter could be finalized and the water flowing by May. Friends has the option of making one last appeal to the Texas Supreme Court, but our attorney believes it may be a difficult proposition. The 200 cfs flow would provide a major economic benefit as it creates more river recreation and sport fishing business in the local economy. What an outstanding way to help the region recover from the great flood!

An update to the great flood this last summer: Canyon Lake, even if it had been empty when the rains started in late June, would still have overflowed. The total inflow was about twice the holding capacity of the lake- such was the magnitude of the rain event. Over 70,000 tons of rock and gravel ended up in the river. The signs of new gravel bars extend miles downstream, and that could be a benefit to the fish habitat. In the meantime, a river cleanup is underway. As of late November, the river is open to fishing and wading from a point directly below the 4th crossing, all the way down. County officials are still trying to determine if the river is safe above 4th crossing. Perhaps by the time you read this, the river will be completely open to recreation of all kinds. While the clean-up crews are working, everyone must remain at least 200 feet away. There'll be muddy water as the Corps continues to dig-out the giant `plug' in the riverbed at Horse Shoe Falls.

There is an opportunity for agencies of the State to create public access in property that will be bought by the Federal Government as the result of the flood. This is one of the outstanding rivers in Texas and public access is needed.

Water temperatures have fallen to the excellent range for trout survival. The cold water layer was flushed out of Canyon Lake as the lake emptied from the great flood. The cooler and wetter October helped lower water temperatures. The dense, winter-chilled layer of cold water should completely re-establish itself this winter. Looking' at several years of water temperature measurements below Canyon Dam, the pattern is amazingly consistent: In 1997, after near-record floods, water temperatures re-established over the winter of 1998 and were identical to non-flood years the next summer.

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January Meeting Featured Speaker

President of TU's Truchas Chapter To Speak at GRTU January 25 Meeting

Our speaker for the January GRTU meeting is Bill Schudlich, President of the Truchas Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Santa Fe, New Mexico. Bill will give a presentation on the Truchas Chapter's work on the recovery of the Rio Grande Cutthroat in the Valles Calderas and the improvement of the Santa Barbara Cutthroat habitat. Since Doug Palmer of Philmont Scout Ranch gave a presentation at our October meeting on the Restoration of Rio Grande Cutthroat on the South Ponil on Philmont, several of us felt a program on the Valles Caldera and Santa Barbara would be a good follow up.

Bill Schudlich was born and raised in Dearborn, Michigan. He served on the board of the Paul H. Young Chapter of TU in the Detroit area before moving to New Mexico in 1994. He learned to fly fish on the famed Au Sable River while attending Michigan State University, where he earned a BA in Business/Economics. He also holds an MBA in Finance from Wayne State University. Bill is now the Financial Director of Mariah Media, Inc., the publisher of Outside magazine. He formerly served as a Board member and officer of Sangre de Cristo Flyfishers and for the past two years has been the President of the Truchas Chapter. For nine years now, he has explored the streams of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado seeking out native cutthroats.

Please make every effort to attend and help us welcome Bill Schudlich. You'll be in for and in-depth look at Rio Grande Cutthroats in New Mexico as Bill shares the efforts of the Truchas Chapter and also, his knowledge of New Mexico trout streams. I look forward to seeing you there.

By Jimmy D. Moore

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New GRTU Message Board

A new message board system is hosted on the GRTU website. It features public and private forums. For Lease members only, a private Lease Forum is offered. Discussions about stockings, fishing techniques, leases can be much freer on this forum. All Lease members from 2001 2002 have been pre-registered. If you are a Lease member, but are not having any luck signing on, send a message to the grtuadministrator. It's a great way to keep in touch with what's going on. And many announcements about stockings and other news will be made there.

David Schroeder, Webmaster

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The Guadalupe is Open!

The text below is a County News Release made Dec 11, 2002. The Guadalupe is open to fishing and boating! The only stipulation is to remain 300 feet from the clean-up crew

"Comal County Judge Danny Scheel again lifted portions of the ban on recreational boating and other water sport activities on the Guadalupe River within Comal County today. This most recent reduction of the water sport ban, announced by Scheel, allows limited use of the Gudalupe River throughout Comal County.

After the July flood, recreational boating and other water sport activities on Canyon Reservoir, the Guadalupe and Comal Rivers were banned for public safety reasons due to unknown hazards in the flood waters and the river channel. As the flood waters receded and the hazards were mitigated, portions of the ban were lifted accordingly.

Earlier this year, the ban was lifted from portions of the upper Guadalupe and Canyon Reservoir after consultation with officers from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Likewise, the County, in coordination with the City of New Braunfels, lifted the ban on the Comal River.

Today's partial lifting of the ban was ordered by Scheel due to the progress made by river clean-up crews to reduce hazards on the river banks and in the river channel. These efforts have been ongoing for the last several months, Scheel said. However Scheel cautioned the clean-up work is continuing, and water sport enthusiasts must stay far away from these work crews.

The ban on recreational boating and water sport activities remains in effect and will be enforced with 300 feet of any river clean-up work crew in the Guadalupe River. As the crews move from place to place, so will the ban on river activities. Scheel said, "We welcome those who want to use the river responsibly, but they need to stay clear of the clean-up crews."

Clean-up activity on the Guadalupe River is expected to continue for months to come and could take up to a year. Funding to pay for the river clean-up in the county is being shared by the federal government and Comal County while the City of New Braunfels is paying for its share within the city limits, Scheel said."

Editor's note - Things are happening pretty fast now that Judge Scheel has addressed the issue again. Be sure to see Scott Graham's article on the next page for more details about the river. Keep in mind that these reports are being written in the midst of a whirlwind of change and the GRTU officers who are responsible for keeping you abreast are working with the most recently available information.

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I don't have a good trout fishing story that's current so here is a bass fishing story that's true. Honest.

While touring northern Idaho we stayed in a Coeur d'Alene RV park a few weeks, mainly because the park was on a beautiful lake and quite near some very attractive trout fishing rivers. I was in my nine foot inflatable raft fishing the lake for bass when a bald eagle startled me as he swooped low to the lake within 20 feet of my boat, and then arched upward to land high in a nearby Ponderosa Pine. About two minutes later I caught and released a 10" fish that lingered beside the boat a moment contemplating his regained freedom. During that brief moment the eagle lifted off his perch, and with a couple of wing flaps glided close enough to me to pick up the fish. What a thrill to hear the eagle's wing feathers hum as he came toward us, the fish and me, and then the sound of his powerful wing beats at the same time his talons nailed the fish, not me.

Two days later I was on the lake again, fishing the same spot, and so was the bald eagle. I caught a 12" bass and decided to see if I could entice the eagle off his perch to feed. I, er uh, enabled the fish to float belly up and not swim away when I placed him back into the water. I then held the fish out at arm's length and dropped him. Instantly the eagle leaped from his tree and picked the fish off the water, almost touching me with his wing. You can imagine my excitement. There is proof of this event. A Coeur d'Alene native was fishing out of a kick-boat about fifty yards away and he kicked his way over to me. He said he had fished that lake for forty years and had never seen an eagle come within such a close range to a human. He said he had watched what I did with the fish and knew I was trying to entice the eagle. Also, a couple on shore had been filming the eagle on his tree perch, and their camcorder panned his flight path as he swooped down to pick up my fish. I quickly rowed their way to see about obtaining a copy of the film, but they drove away before I could get there. Oh, well. My friends and family believe my story because after all, I'm just like you .... another honest fisherman.

By by Dwight Corley

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Lessons Learned

The strike startled me. It was a sharp and brief tug and it was gone as quickly as it came. I looked up to see a swirl, a splash and I felt another firm hit. I reacted. Feeling a good fish, I turned to the bank to exit the waistdeep water. And just as quickly, the fish was gone. I uttered something like "Shucks"!. We were fishing the Rio Gallegos in Southern Argentina for sea-run brown trout. Strikes don't come rea often here, and missing one might mean the difference in the entire day.

Nick Hart, my guide, was watching from the bank and had seen the entire event. I climbed out of the pool and sat with him for few minutes to reflect upon what had just happened. We concluded that despite my 35 years of flyfishing experience, I had managed to make at least 6 "Rookie" mistakes in dealing with that situation. Those mistakes cost me a shot at landing a really nice fish. I smiled to myself in false comfort as I recounted the little maxims that I had ignored. Perhaps a review of them might help you avoid my fate.

Rule 1 - Pay attention! The straight line down-and-across swing that we use so often for Salmon, Steelhead, Sea Trout, or even when fishing streamers for smaller fish is effective, but it requires attention. Our day had been slow to that point and, in retrospect, I recalled that my focus had been wandering - perhaps to thoughts of another gourmet dinner at the Bella Vista Lodge that evening, or to the watching of the Rheas or Magellan Geese, or even the grazing sheep and wonderful clouds. Nothing wrong with any of those mental pursuits mind you, but lack of attention to the business at hand caused me to be startled, rather than ready, when the strike came.

Rule 2 - Take it seriously! In most streams the population of fish includes a variety of players. The Rio Gallegos is full of smaller "resident" trout in addition to the transient sea-runs that were our quarry. The initial strike that brought my attention back to the stream was quick and brief. On reflection, I recalled specifically that my first thoughts identified the hit as a small "second-class" prize, and with that erroneous conclusion my reflex attention fell back from "startled" to "no big deal".

Rule 3 - Set the hook! Given the mental state that created my violation of Rule 2, I reacted with less than full enthusiasm in setting the hook. The splash, swirl, and quick roll of a heavy fish that followed surprised me to say the least, but I was already past the point of reacting strongly.

Rule 4 - Get things under control! Despite the less-than-adequate hook set, the big fish was on and began an initial "thrashing". In the excitement that had jumped into an otherwise slow day, I was so surprised at that reality that I turned to head to shallower water to get myself into a better fighting position. I should have stayed put until it was clear that the fish was well-hooked and that I had some idea of what he was going to do.

Rule 5 - Face the fish! By turning away I lost contact had no way of knowing if the fish was going to come at me, run away or take to the air. I was not in control and it cost me. Once in control I should have begun a slow, backward shuffle to shallower water, maintaining vigilance of the fish's intent. In turning, I also violated Rule 6.

Rule 6 - Keep the rod tip high until you know that Rule 4 (control) is in effect. In turning away from the fish, I stumbled just a bit and inadvertently allowed the rod tip to dip. Since the hook was not particularly well set (violation of Rule 3), the fish was able to take advantage of the everso-slight slack I gave him by dipping the rod tip. And with that he was gone.

I felt foolish, for sure, but as Nick and I reviewed the details of what had happened, I was amazed to discover just how much can occur in a very short amount of time. The entire episode with that fish took less than 10 seconds. I was making mistakes faster than I could think. The truth is, that Rule 1 - Pay Attention! - is the key to them all.

So, the next time you get a strike - don't think about it - you won't have time. Make sure you've thought about it before it happens and that your "second nature" takes over. And the next time you lose a fish, take a minute to analyze why. There are probably a couple more "Rules" I haven't thought of yet. And then, while you've got all of that on your mind, don't forget to look at the Rheas, the geese and the clouds - catching a big fish isn't everything!.

Harry Briscoe is geologist who works in the energy industry. He is also the President and principal owner of Hexagraph Fly Rod Co. He has been a fly fisher since his childhood and is trying his hardest to fish in neat places around the country and the world.

By Harry J. Briscoe

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Id Rather Be..

The Fish Stories section of the GRTU newsletter got kinda out of hand thanks to those wonderful people who answered Bob Tuttle's emergency call for short stories. It migrated to almost 30 pages. So a couple of articles had to be put on hold for a later issue. Too bad. I loved one by Harry Brisco called Learning Experience, a 5 or 6 page story that's really good. You'll see it one of these days.

In the meantime, deleting those stories left a column that need to be filled. Like businessmen everywhere, editors can't stand a vacuum. So I thought I'd tell this one.

There I was one windy day trying to get the leaves out of my pool. Sure is great to have five large pear trees hanging over the water for summer time shade. But in the winter, they are a challenge God planted there to test the character of those working with a leaf skimmer. As soon as I'd get all the leaves out of one end of the pool, I'd look back and see something akin to a National Forrest floating at the other end. Like a puppy, I chased my tail back and forth for an hour.

Finally, I held the skimmer out to get a leaf when two, count `em, two more fell from a tree and hit right in my net. Ha! Like I don't know what to do when Dallas is fourth and inches and my wife calls me to dinner. I dropped everything and attended to more important things. I got my Orvis 4 piece 5 wt. and went to the little lake nearby. The wind I faced blew my hat off. Oh well. At least it didn't fall in the water. My first roll cast was straight as an arrow and fell silently into the white caps. But my first false cast was a disaster. The line blew back in my face. The fly went back over my head and landed in a tree. Leaves (remember them?) fell from the tree and peppered my handy carrying bag like World War II paratroops attacking an exposed enemy position. My new weight forward floating line tangled in the brush. The wind shifted. My hat flew into the lake.

I got the line unwound from my boot, stepped on it a couple of times, and went into a full, curse-filled retreat. Maybe I should go home.

But wait. What's there waiting for me? A pool full of God's wonderful gift to summer time swimmers. I guess I'd rather be ... well, you know.

By J Aler

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The Purist

I fish with a Pflueger Pack Rod.

He fishes with a Sage or a Scott.
Doesn't make any difference to the
fish that we caught.
Fish don't care what rod we use and faced with a choice
they'd probably not choose.

The "purist" fishes a Betty McNall or other perfect fly. I fish with a Black Ant or Elk Hair Caddis cause they're so easy to tie.

"Expand your horizons, that's where it's at", he says as he ties on a number 16 Claret Gnat. "Don't be fishing those trash flies, my boy. Why don't you try a Ferret Faced Rob Roy."

To go along with his game, I say 'I might try a Chauncey, or a Colorado King, or maybe a Coachman with the Royal Fan Wing. He's thinking, "another purist I've found", when I mention that I love the Royal Blue Crown.

He raises his eyebrows as he ponders all that. Then he ties on a pretty Brass Hat. I say a Royal Cubbage is also good, but sometimes I prefer a Fire Coachman Trude.

He says to himself, "A purist for sure, boy this is great." But when I tie on a Chernobyl Foam Ant, we both know he's taken my bait."A foam ant!" Why would a purist like you stoop to something as trashy as that?" he says as he removes his tattered old hat.

I say with an evil glint in my eyes, "Gotcha, my Friend. I'm not a purist. I'll just fish my ants and Little foam flies. You fish your classics and I'll fish my trash and when the end of the day comes we'll see who was brash."

By Jimmy D. Moore

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In Times Like These

In times like these there is a cruel irony in the way life works. A small business and family person such as myself has to- at some point say "to heck with it" and head out to the river. The irony is always that in the good times we seemingly are too busy to do it, and in the tougher, leaner times we seemingly don't have the dough for it, or are guilt ridden for not attaching ourselves to our duties. I have found a couple of things that tend to provide the impetus for getting me to the river. One is that I run all my bills (from the business) through a Southwest Airlines Visa card which generates airline miles and at some point I am forced to lose or use the tickets generated. This summer it happened to me. It was either use or lose 2 tickets which if not redeemed would expire by the 21 st of September. Well this was good timing because I had been wanting to express some kind to make a statement against the September 11th attacks and since the anniversary of the 11th fell on a Wednesday I reasoned it would be a good day to fly to a river. And, since I hadn't been there in a while and it is always beckoning I opted for the South Fork of the Boise River. This is a lovely tail race river that few fish, and when flows are low, it fishes like a dream. Flies of choice are blue winged olives, and a local one called a pink albert - modeled after the epeorus albertae, it is similar to a light cahill, but noone around here has heard of it. The canyon that envelopes the South Fork is a rugged desert scrub and it is nice work if you can get it to do a raft float through the upper 15 miles or so of canyon there. Instead we chose to wade fish it, as my brother is getting older these days. Also, his son, who typically does a lot of oaring is away at college and so avoidance of labor entered into our decision making. Hell, any more it seems that that has become the #1 criteria, and we are getting good at it.

Well you might have guessed that they hadn't lowered the flows when we reached, even though by September in the last several years, flows had been optimal. So it was on us to fish a river that was high, but not unreasonable. There were four of us so we decided to deploy 2 down and 2 up. Since brother Mark knew the good spots, he fished where we parked the car - that "avoidance of labor" thing again. I walked upriver past the Cow creek bridge and worked back down. Initially I had no luck but as happens I stumbled on a fork which formed a small islet, found a staff to get across the current and waded the small side of the branch. I picked up a small one (14") on a beadhead prince and so I began to believe that fish were working. Working down, I could see pretty well and had the sun behind me, taking care in my positioning, which is very important when fishing this river, as the water is gin clear and fish are wary.

I finally came on a nice pool where 2 large rocks in the bottom began to move about and alchemized into nice rainbows. I stopped before they saw me ( I was too close to cast) and slowly backed out. I rested them for a few minutes and tied on a Parachute adams (an 18 I believe) and began to plot how I could get that morsel to them without them seeing me or my casting motion. It was fairly easy as I had cover on the right bank and so I waded across close to the cottonwood overhangs and began to roll cast and to get some line out - when I thought I had enough out, I laid down a ball above the fly and began to watch it unfurl. As it unfurled the fly became apparent to the fish and one rose. He missed however and my reaction was detected and off they went.

I caught a few small ones that day, but was glad to have had the shot at a big one. The lemonade from lemons however was that brother Mark knew another river we could try - it was just across state line in Oregon and it is called the Owyhee - a much different sort of animal, it is murky, has a lot of grass beds and is home to many large and hungry browns. That story later.

by Lawrence Lothrop

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One Stubborn Bass

I don't want to get into the ethics of fishing for bedding bass, except to say that I really don't think it's right. However, to be completely truthful, I have done it a time or two, so I guess that makes me a hypocrite or at least a "half-o-crit." Whatever. What would you do if you came on to a ten pound plus momma bass sitting on her bed ? I dare say you'd do the same as I did. You'd try to catch her, and the heck with ethics, since you were going to put her back anyway. Right? Right! The hypocritical day I'm referring to was a warm March afternoon in the mid-nineties. I'd been expecting the bass to be off shore in a pre-spawn mode, but as I checked some of my favorite places, not a bass could I stir up. Guessing that they were holding in deeper water, I tried that. No luck there either. Could they possibly be in the shallows already? They were. Saw several cruising in and out of a little cove I fish in at times. I pitched my big Stanley white and chartreuse #5 willow blade spinner bait out and slowly rolled it back. No takers. I threw three more baits in succession, a tequila sunrise worm, a chartreuse plastic bladed buzz bait and a bright red rattle trap, only to draw a blank. Just as I was getting fed up, I remembered a little cove that had produced some good bass in the past at this time of year. So - to the cove. Giving the cove a good workout produced nothing. Time to go home. Just as I was pulling my trolling motor in, something caught my eye. It was that huge momma bass I spoke of earlier. Got to be ten pounds, I thought, but then "ole ethics" reared his ugly head. I can't fish for a bedding bass. Right? Wrong! Hey I was just going to catch her and release her right back on her bed, what'd be wrong with that. She wouldn't be out of the water more than thirty seconds. What would that hurt? Not a thing! I could have my ethics and eat them too, well not really, cause I don't like the fishy taste of bass and would eat one only if survival depended on it. "Well, here we go big momma", I said to myself as I feathered that tequila sunrise worm down in front of her face. Rats! She took off as soon as my worm passed by on the way to the bottom. "Lets go home" I told myself, she'll never come back now. But she did. Wow, another chance. This time I pitched a metal flake tube lure behind her and slowly dragged it back. She left again. Then she came back. I was then determined that I was going to catch that bass even if it hair lipped the Governor to Texas . Calling my wife on the cell phone, I told her what I was doing and that I was going to stay until I caught that big bass. She gave a chuckle and her only words were, "don't fall in".

For the next two hours I tried everything I knew to catch that old lady bass. I'd pitch a lure and she'd leave, only to come right back. I threw past her. I even threw my tube lure up on the bank and dragged it back in. I dangled it in her face and did this over and over with several of my "sure fire gets em every time baits". Same story all the way through. Boy, was she stubborn.

It was just about dusky dark when a real gem of an idea hit me. Now get this folks, it took real intellect to figure this out. While she was grinning at me, I once more put the tube lure right in front of her nose. Of course she swam away, but this time I let the lure drop all the way to the bottom and reeled the slack out of my line, while holding my rod tip waist high. I waited and waited. Seemed like she was taking longer to get back. Just as my arms were about to break off from holding my rod straight out, she suddenly materialized on the nest. I eased the lure off the bottom and up to her mouth ever so gently. Bam! She inhaled it. Wham! I set the hook and the battle was on. Thank the Lord for forty pound spider wire, ( I guess ya'll thank that's unethical too), for anything less in those water hyacinths and I'd have had a broken line. She went deeper and headed through the Hyacinths and towards the mouth of the cove. I ran to the stern of my bass boat and began to slowly work her to where the water was free of Hyacinths and snags. After what seemed like an hour, she finally gave up and came alongside the boat. I lipped her, removed the tube lure and weighed her. Ten pounds eleven ounces. What a chunk! Then as I always do, I released the big fish easing her gently back onto her nest. Thank you very much, Ma'm. Tell everybody hi for me. I'll catch you again another day. It was now dark and my youngest son, Joe had just come in from work and having heard what I was up to, called to see if I'd caught her yet. When I told him I had, he said, "wow Dad, let's try her again tomorrow. We did, but the fish we found was smaller and located in another place in the cove. Joe tried my newly found method of dropping the bait to the bottom. He tried till twilight. From where he was standing he couldn't see the fish for the glare on the water, but I could and I was able to tell him when to set the hook. But it didn't work. Nothing did. The fish reacted the same way, but was definitely not interested in what Joe had to offer. When it became clear that Joe wasn't going to catch his prize and we were readying our gear for the trip back to the ramp, we both got a surprise. "Look at that" I hollered as the largest black bass I'd ever seen swam by the smaller fish we'd been trying for. She, and it had to be a she, looked to be around thirty inches along, with a mouth likened to a number three wash tub. Fifteen - sixteen pounds for sure. Joe had hastily gotten his rod back out and eased the tube lure in front of her only to see her disappear, not to return. We headed home full of excitement. We'd catch her tomorrow. We went back the next afternoon and the next, but never saw her, the one I caught nor the one Joe matched wits with, but boy did we have a great story to tell.

By Jimmy Moore

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Secret Weapon for Hill Country Bass
The Cat's Whisker

I'm not entirely sure why I'm telling you about my most productive minnow imitation. I try to fish different crossings through the year and expect to catch bass, partly because they haven't seen my flies yet. This fly has taken stripers in Lake Travis, trout on the Guadalupe, northern pike in a secret spring creek near Harper, copious white bass, and carp to 12 lbs. A few weeks ago at Schumacher's Crossing, my buddy Steve Kauffman caught a 24-inch channel cat with one. And of course, it catches river bass. It's even easy to tie.

The cat's whisker is a "whistler" fly. The eyes are made from bead-chain, which whistles by your head in a cast, and it whistles and clicks in the water. Tied on the outside of the hook shank, the bead-chain keels the fly with the hook point riding up. The first flies I ever tied were variations on Billy Trimble's whistler patterns. I won't tell you how long ago that was, but I didn't need reading glasses to tie them back then.

I first found the cat's whisker in Mike Dawes' book, The Flytier's Companion, and David Train is given the credit. Ian James and Taff Price have also written about this fly, and Ian sent me some of his variations. It's a simple fly - tail and wing from white marabou, yellow chenille body, gold wire rib, and bead-chain eyes. Mr. Train christened the fly with a pair of whiskers plucked from his shy cat. He tied these in before the wing and claimed their stiffness kept the wing lifted high. I've discovered that Krystal Flash does this, plus it adds sparkle. All of my whistler patterns start with a loop of Krystal Flash beneath the base thread wrap. I fold back the head strands to form either lateral lines or fin rays.

I've never used the wire rib on this fly. While I still prefer marabou for the tail, I've changed the upper wing to arctic fox fur. This material is great. The brand name is Finnish Fur Fly, and it comes in long zonker strips. Cut the suede, twist, and the wing ties in tiny. The fur adds a texture and color gradient to the fly that looks alive. A marabou wing ties in much thicker. As an attractor or for turbid water, the original white and yellow dressing works fine. One Easter, my dad and I stumbled onto the North San Gabriel when the shad had run up from Lake Georgetown with the white bass on their heels. The skinny flagstone shelves were black with tiny shad, and a white footprint would open up for you when each step came down. A yellow-andwhite cat's whisker took a 19-inch white bass that day. I checked its tooth-patch - it wasn't a hybrid, but a rare 4-year-old male. From the same gravel bar, I also caught and released the very same largemouth seven times - I recognized him by a scar on his head, and got to know him well.

In our aquarium-clear Hill Country creeks and rivers, variations of olive and gray make a fly that brooks close inspection by cautious bass. Tie the flies to match the overcast, the trees, or the bare limestone. The chenille body should be the lightest color, and the upper wing should be the darkest. Last summer, high flow rates kept me away from many crossings that I love to fish. But two weekends in the same halfmile of river, I had 60- and 100-fish days. On the first day I caught five bass over 14 inches including largemouths, smallmouths and Guadalupe bass. Next time out I landed my best smallmouth ever - 18 inches and four pounds. All of these were on green and gray cat's whiskers. OK, I'll give away the fly, but I'm not going to tell you where I was fishing.

I will tell you this. The first trip, I fished a floating line. A short rod is a bonus under the trees, and the fly fishes best with the leader and tippet just shorter than the rod. Generally, streamer fishing is across and down, but casting up lets the fly sink deeper before the swing. Cast close to the bank. When fishing in tight, a roll cast and then swing will let you pound the bank foot by foot. Don't forget to fish straight down, especially along shelves and gravel bars. Lone fish may hit aggressively, letting you see the strike. Bass in pods will follow tediously and pick up a slow retrieve, and in slow water you can often watch this. In fast water, the deeper strikes aren't visible, so you have to fish by feel. Expect strikes anywhere; fish the cast all the way, all the time, right back to your feet. I catch a surprising number of fish just trolling the line while I'm moving. Remember to fish a spot before you wade into it (don't do as I do - the fish get mad when I try to step on them).

That first day with the floating line, I randomly tossed the fly into a chute. Quite by accident, a quick-tempered smallmouth snagged it as it rocketed by. So I went back with a sinking line, a plan, and Dad - it was his birthday. In the same half-mile, I fished the runs with roll casts and swings, just like the floating line. But I waded in above each chute and methodically combed the current seams. Fishing straight down, I dragged the rod tip between each seam, sending a dip down the line to guide the fly over. Long slow strips and pauses kept the fly hovering and painfully gaining ground in the current. I absolutely ambushed smallmouth bass, taking a dozen or more fish at every chute, and then caught some of those again on the wade back up. Dad was proud.

Cat's Whisker

By Ron McAlpin

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Learning to Fly Fish

In April of 2002 I aged 60 years. At that point, I realized that I am now close to the age of the man who hooked me on fly fishing. It is a simple story, told many times in many ways.

The summer of 1954 in Pennsylvania was cool and damp by Texas standards. At age 12, I was at the awkward point of one minute trying to read and make sense of Nietzsche and being ready for a good game of kick the can the next. Being away from home and at one's grandmother's was, at the same time, boring and a constant challenge to discover new things to do. The fellow who lived next door to my grandmother was a kind and quiet man in his mid-60s whose graying shock of red hair lied about his temper. Over the years of summer visitations, we had made friends and talked a lot about his greatest love, the outdoors. I'd heard many times about "the cabin" and the trout stream that ran beside it and the bears that waded the stream. His stories were better than an article in Boy's Life or any Zane Gray book. They were real, told by the master.

During the summer before this, we had gone out on the country roads of northeastern Pennsylvania in search of the elusive groundhog-at least I found it elusive. I shot up a lot of .22 ammunition but never brought home a trophy. But I did learn the basics of gun safety from a pro and heard more than a few stories of "going after the big one." Pretty heady stuff for a kid.

How we got onto fly fishing I don't remember. Maybe it was when I saw a fly and asked what it was or who made it. Perhaps it was seeing a pile of fishing gear in the living room where it remained after some weekend trip. Whatever it was, I was sent home that summer with a promise of great adventure the next time we got together.

In the few days before we left, I had started learning some of fly fishing's terminology, had assembled a rod, attached the reel, and threaded line. I'd even made some attempts at casting before getting entangled in my grandmother's raspberry bushes and giving up until I could cast on the stream.

A rainy day wasn't quite my idea of ideal fly-fishing weather, but that's what dawned on the first day of the promised adventure into uncharted territory. The cabin beckoned. There were bears to see. And there were trout to catch in the stream not far from Stroudsburg. It was a solemn rite of passage: I was given a new fishing cap complete with a newly tied fly; my very own tackle box appeared from the back of some closet, along with a bamboo rod that the master long ago had outgrown and replaced. With great fanfare we climbed in the old black Ford pickup truck, which had been loaded with such necessities as bedrolls, food, and water, in addition to the fishing gear. Even at this early point in my fishing career, I was beginning to understand that part of the enjoyment of a good fishing trip came in the preparation. There's a lot of talking to do, stories to tell. By the time we turned onto the avenue, it was early evening as the light rain continued cold but steady. "It'll just clean that stream out," my friend said, and we were off on the great adventure! Rain pelted the windshield, creating syncopation with the click click click of the wipers. We were soon out of town and melting into the coming darkness. Ray talked some, puffed some on his pipe, then began talking about his first fly-fishing trip. This was it. Men talking about men's stuff. Friends discussing a common similar interest. Oh man! this was it.

Sometime in the past we had talked about Parodis, those ugly little crooked Italian cigars that look suspiciously like what your cat leaves in its box. Maybe 30 miles from home in the now pitch-black night, Ray produced one from deep in the inside pocket of his old woods coat and asked if I wanted to puff it. "Sure," I said and lit it with a wooden match struck by rubbing it on the leg of my jeans. This was living. Well, it was living until the cab filled with the smoke from both the pipe and the cigar. By this time, we were on fairly poor country roads, and the bumping ride punctuated with lightning flashes produced a kid who was getting greener by the moment. It got very quiet in that cab as Ray talked on about fishing and I tried to keep lunch where it belonged. He must have sensed my plight, because at the exact minute I figured I couldn't make it any further, we responded to the beckoning flashes of a neon grocery store sign. "Figured we might get a little coffee and something to eat," Ray said, adding, "maybe a few tins of sardines for the cabin." I passed on the coffee, romanced' a Coca Cola for as long as I could, got my legs back under me and ate a submarine sandwich. I may have puffed a Parodi the next summer, but I don't remember it. We got to the cabin sometime after ten. By then, the rain had stopped and a moon was riding through the rapids of leftover clouds. The cabin was a one-room affair with a minimal kitchen and an outhouse perhaps ten yards away. It smelled musty the way an outdoorsman's place should. We'd be getting up early, so we laid out our gear and slid into the bunk beds. Even Ray's "If you hear a loud noise outside, don't go out `cause it'll be a bear" couldn't keep me awake. Hell, I'd survived the Parodi, hadn't I? We were up just before the sun, cooking bacon and eggs. Drinking a cup or two of what, in retrospect, was probably pretty bad coffee, took the chill off the cool morning. It was time to grab our things and hit the stream.

That stream was perhaps ten yards across, fairly fast moving from last night's rain, and varied between ankle and maybe waist-deep in holes. It was no more than a twominute walk from the cabin, and although I could hear the coursing water in the night, it was a thrill to see it for the first time. Ray's approach to teaching me to fly fish was the same as his approach to everything else: unhurried and in his own way. I had inherited from him a stiff bamboo rod, and he'd taught me to use the oil alongside my nose and high on my forehead to lubricate the joints before assembling the pieces. "They can be really tough to get apart if you don't." We were ready to fish.

That first morning we worked on not fighting the line. "We're not going for distance here, Michael, we're hoping for accuracy." I worked on form and making each cast easier than the one before. And it did get easier, less foreign a movement. We talked about the stream: why it flows like it does, where the deep pools are and how you can identify them, why the trout like certain places and avoid others. It was neither a sophisticated nor a complicated explanation of aquatic existence, but rather the love story of a life spent fishing for trout, and as I understand now, the necessity to pass that life on. Ray wandered up the stream to fish with his effortless movement that snaked line wherever he wanted it, and I was left to practice. I cast time and time again, trying to emulate his graceful presentation but never quite succeeded. But I tried, never wanting to admit that I'd given up. I finally got to the point that I could cast without snagging the back of my cap, and my fly-who remembers what it was?-would land relatively close to where I'd intended. Ray had said once, "Learning to fly fish is work, but once you get it, it's the best relaxation you'll ever have." At age 12, relaxation was hardly at the top of my list of concerns. Later in the day, Ray returned with several small trout earmarked for dinner. They were cleaned then roasted over an open fire, and I cannot to this day remember a better meal. The fire encouraged talk about technique, fishing conditions, the weather, and the trip in general. We agreed that it had been a good day.

Sleep came easily that night, interrupted sometime after midnight by loud crashing just outside the cabin. Ray rolled over in his bunk and said, "Michael, if you haven't ever seen a bear in the wild, take a look out the window over there." Sure enough, two large bears were enjoying the remains of the fish we'd cleaned. They were an awesome sight.

The following morning we prepared ham, eggs, and that questionable coffee outside and got back to fishing. By this time, of course, I was a pro. I knew what to do and where to go. More lessons followed that morning, however. We talked about fish and how, while we could catch them, it wasn't always wise to keep them. There was an obvious respect for the object of our quest. We discussed the law and the fishing-license buttons we wore on our caps. Indeed, Ray said that yes, he'd brought back some fish for dinner, but he'd caught a few more than he'd kept. "The sport, Michael, is in being able to catch the fish, not in keeping them. Works better for both of us that way." The weekend ended altogether too soon. The drive home was considerably faster than the trip down, with the easy banter of friends filling the cab of the truck and mixing with the slight scent of wood smoke left over from the morning's fire. We talked more about fishing, some about hunting, and about the outdoors in general. And so it went.

I only learned some rudiments of fly fishing and casting that Pennsylvania summer, returning to Texas to hone my skills by reading the few scarce books I could find on the subject and living in a time when the natives found it most curious for this kid to fish for bream in East Texas with that funny long rod and no live bait. But it was always a way to stay in touch with a summer trip in 1954. Over the years I have continued the romance with fly fishing. Some years I haven't managed to fish at all, others have been kinder to me and I have fished in some beautiful and inspiring places with interesting folks of like mind. But no matter where or when I fish, I always think of Ray Curry and the lasting gift he gave to a 12 year-old kid from Texas.

By Michael Dymond

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Bits, Pieces & Loose Ends...

Greet Our New Editor

After 7 years editing our newsletter, Richard Stanley has resigned. A job well done. He probably got tired of trying to get members to send in their articles, who knows. He has outlasted all previous editors by a long shot. Thanks Richard for all of your work. Now the chapter has a new name on the masthead, J Aler, working out of Dallas. He is our new Editor-in-Chief. Give him support with your contributions and he is open to suggestions or comments.

Farewell to Beans

The well known Guadalupe River access spot open to all for a small fee is no longer available for the public to use. This includes upper and lower sections. The property was bought from Mr. Pruesser's heirs by an individual named Ingram who also has additional property in the area. It is being fenced to keep the cattle in (and people out). What the cattle can feed on is anyone's guess. Never knew Bovidae to like gravel. With all of his other holdings I cannot see why he needed more land, unless it is for tax purposes.

Camp Beans should be considered a state or even a national treasure. There a not enough access points for the general public to use on the river. Even our lease access program is suffering over the loss as that was a prime trout fishing access area.

But remember, if you are in the water you can fish just about anywhere and not be accused of trespassing. But do keep off the private lands or you will be trespassing and laws are strictly enforced.

above are still free access before your enter. Camp Beans was free access until recently.

The Previous Meeting Location..

Rollin on The River was quite a pleasant place for our October meeting. Kind of on the small side for a large group. The food was good, the soft drinks were free, there were cookies too. Note that there is more parking behind the restaurant if we ever go there in the future. The Red Barn is expected to be available again for our January and future meetings. Just watch the newsletters.

Sattler Views..

There have been some new restaurants opened and others that have changed hands. Our chapter's knowledgeable diner and unofficial food critic Jeff Schmitt needs to make the culinary rounds again. Seems there are almost all types represented except Asian, Indian, and Ethiopian but those can most likely be found in the nearby larger cities. Even Startzville up the road on FM 2673 is rumored to have a couple of good places to dine.

Free Public Access..

Just below the Canyon Dam and tailrace, there are 2 spots where anyone can fish without paying a fee or having a lease access permit. Facing downstream, the left or East bank even has handicap access with a porta-can. The right or West bank has trails and a longer area to fish from with no private property in the way. It is wadeable providing that the flow is not to high and the river bottom has been cleaned up. Be sure to check that the flood restrictions have been lifted and the bottom is clear before you attempt to wade. Adequate parking too and The Dam Red Barn is just around the corner within walking distance. Texas Parks and Wildlife notes that another free fishing area is Camp Huaco, located on both sides of River Road at the first bridge crossing. This 32-acre camp-ground contains a beautiful stretch of water that has some great habitat for trout. Camp Huaco can be reached by taking Exit 189 (Texas 46) on Interstate 35 in New Braunfels. Take the highway 46 west to the River Road exit. Exit River Road and go north until you come to Camp Huaco, about 1.5 miles. As situations change from time to time, be sure that the above are still free access before your enter. Camp Beans was free access until recently.

Spillway Created New Gorge..

The recent flood created a veritable canyon in the path of the waters from the spillway. A name has been created for this area that is some 70 feet deep in places: Barranca de Caliza (Limestone Canyon).

Guad Trout Caught..

It had been reported that several trout were caught in November at Huaco Springs. So it appears that some trout have survived the Great Flood. In addition, some other specie have been caught but they are believed to have arrived along with the flood waters.

Fishing Tip..

Everyone should know that the best trout fishing is always several days journey away from home. Of course you should have been there yesterday for catching fish.


Soon the GRTU website home page ( will have a complete update on this important event. Thanks to all the volunteers who helped out last year on such short notice! The organizers went on and on.... and on with gratitude! Let's show them a fuller force this year! PS Bring safety glasses, there were about 200 hooks a fly'n last year!"

by Scott Graham

Soon the GRTU website home page ( will have a complete update on this important event. Thanks to all the volunteers who helped out last year on such short notice! The organizers went on and on.... and on with gratitude! Let's show them a fuller force this year! PS Bring safety glasses, there were about 200 hooks a fly'n last year!"

By Bob Tuttle, TU Liaison / Mailings

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Program for the April 26th Meeting

Our program for the April meeting will be presented by an extremely experienced, and interesting fisherman and guide. He is Jim McGrath, who has been fly fishing for about 20 years. He actually learned to flyfish in New England. In 1989, he moved to the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska. While living and fishing on the Kenai he met Ted Gerken, who owned and managed a "fly fishing only" lodge nearby, located on Lake Iliamna, which is the largest inland lake in the United States. At the time, Ted spent the winters in Homer Alaska, and spent quite a bit of time on the Kenai. In 1992, Jim started guiding at Iliaska Lodge, and spent a good part of the winter in Virginia, professionally tying flies to be used at the Iliaska Lodge during the summer. He incidentally did a little fishing in the East Coast, even ranging as far South as the Florida Keys. He has been the head guide at the Iliaska Lodge since 1995, and still produces most of the flies that are used there during the Summer. Jim guided in Patagonia, Chile during the Winter of 1999-2000. He also spent 6 weeks fishing New Zealand in 1999. Hopefully, he will share some of those experiences. Last May, before leaving for the opening of the season at Iliaska, he boated a 150 pound Tarpon on a fly (which is no small feat!). I met Jim in 1994, the first time I went to Iliaska to fish, and have spent many enjoyable days fishing with him, and he has probably been my best teacher regardless.

By Hylmar Karbach

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