Gifts from the Guadalupe

Each season there seems to be one specific memory that stays with me all year. It is what keeps me sane until the start of the next season. It's a gift of distraction from everyday issues and problems. Last season was no exception.

Living in western Travis County, it is exactly 55 minutes from my door to a GRTU lease. When I need a fix, I get up early on a weekday and fish for two to three hours and get back to Austin for work. It really helps to put everything in a much better perspective.

On this particular cold, clear February day I pulled into the parking area, turned off the car, and took in the sound and the smell of the river. The cloud that hangs over the river was starting to beak up. Once I got rigged up and everything on, I started down the path. As the river became visible though the trees I noticed I was not alone. There was a beautiful pair of wood ducks grooming themselves on a boulder. The morning sun glistened off their iridescent feathers into a light show of every color. I stopped and watched for about three minutes until they noticed me and decided to move back up to the roost of the large bald cypress trees that stand guard over the river.

I move down the river a few yards to a pool that I know is very heavily fished every week, but it is close and I can wade it more safely than most. I tie on a fly I made the night before and start to fish the pool. I don't seem to be very coordinated. Most of my casts are off the mark and heavy. I pick up a few wind knots right off the bat to go with the heavy weeds I'm getting. As I try to get my equipment back under control, I notice something moving up in the trees about 30 yards down river. It's the osprey. The river eagle I always see slowly cruising up and down the river. He is hopping from branch to branch. I stop fishing and sit down on a rock in the middle of the river.

Watching more closely I notice that he is above a rising fish. He moves so the light is just behind him. He hops off the limb, flaps his wings three times, and hovers over the river with wings spread against the morning sun. In an instant he lowers his head, tucks his wings, and dives. In a flash he pivots and goes into the water talons-first, with his wings slapping the water in a loud crash. He lies prone on the water for a moment before he starts to heave himself out of the water. His reward will be a breakfast of rainbow trout. With the extra weight of his prey he slowly rises upward on labored wings. This magnificent bird lurches past me low overhead. His glance of pride as he shows off his catch tells me I am in the presence of a master. He seemed to be saying, "I've got mine. Where is yours?"

I'm glad to say that the new fly I tied worked in that pool. In fact, the trout I caught looked just a little bit bigger then the osprey's. I wished he had stayed around to see it.

Enjoy everything about the river along with the fishing. They are all great gifts.

Martin J. Frey, Lakeway