Guadalupe River Chapter
Trout Unlimited Newsletter
October 2003

P.O. Box 270032 / Austin, Texas 78729 / (512) 261-4409 /
Published three times each year: January, April, October / Number 73 / Ocotober 2003
Editor: Pat Amick Meetings: Fourth Saturday of the above months.Visit GRTU Home Page

Notice of Annual Fall Meeting

Saturday, October 25, 2003
at The Dam Red Bar
Directions inside
Registration and Socializing 8:15 - 10:00 AM
Chapter Affairs 10:00 - 10:45 AM
Program: Scott Graham - Guadalupe River and saltwater guide and former GRTU President 10:45 - 11:45 AM
Raffle drawing, door prizes and auction 11:45 - 12:00
Lunch available for $7
Streamside clinic with Scott Graham following lunch
Lease Orientation classes at 9:00 AM and Noon Sharp!


President: Shelly Marmon 713-666-8868
VP Chapter Affairs: Jimmy Moore 254-751-1285
VP Fisheries: Mark Marmon 713-666-8868
VP Membership: Scott Thompson 210-372-9700
Secretary: Dave Simms 713-668-7011
Treasurer: James Pelland 512-990-8654
Ex-Officio: Ray Chapa, Jr. 210-680-0912
Webmaster: David Schroeder 512-996-8283
Newsletter: Patrick Amick 713-667-1643
TU Liaison/Mailings: Bob Tuttle 512-261-4409

GRTU Directors
Carl Bohn 210-481-2504
Oscar Dupre 830-964-2200
Karen Gebhardt 830-980-7580
Scott Graham 512-947-7145
Dave Gutweiler 245-751-1285
Hylmar Karbach Jr. 830-606-0737
Doug Kierklewski 512-250-0840
Ron McAlpin 830-980-8043
Jimmy Moore 254-751-1285
Jim Roberts 210-826-1766
David Schroeder 512-996 8283
Steve Stilp 512-346-3884

Index of Articles 

Bits, Pieces and Loose Ends...

by Bob Tuttle

Just in case...

either you forgot or did not know, here are the special fishing regulations for The Guadalupe River. Speaks well for catch & release.

Exceptions for Guadalupe River

In the Guadalupe River in Comal County from the second bridge crossing on River Road upstream to the easternmost bridge crossing on FM Road 306, rainbow and brown trout may not be retained when taken by any method except artificial lures. Artificial lures cannot contain or have attached either whole or portions, living or dead, of organisms such as fish, crayfish, insects (grubs, larvae or adults) or worms, any other animal or vegetable material, or synthetic scented materials. This does not prohibit the use of artificial lures that contain components of hair or feathers. It is an offense to possess rainbow or brown trout while fishing with any other device in that part of the Guadalupe River defined in this paragraph. For rainbow and brown trout, Minimum Length Limit= 18 inches and daily bag=1 fish.

A great link...

for public access points on the Guadalupe River:

A great starting point to begin browsing the Texas Parks & Wildlife web site.

New Shop...

 Note that Sportsman's Finest, a new shop that has extensive fly-fishing gear has opened in Southwest Austin.  It is located at 12434 FM 2244 in Bee Caves at the intersection of  Hwy 71 and FM 2244. 
   The store is in the process of being set up by Joe Robinson and Ted Mendrek.  You will remember them as formerly with Orvis Austin. Ted was store manager and Joe was in charge of the fishing department as well as being a well known guide and instructor.  They will be having their grand opening in October.

Sad News...

   The chapter lost three of its Honorary Life Members this year.  Paul Schubauer (in January) who was a charter member of the chapter and a past president. Marian Tilson (in July) one of our staunchest board members and workers.

Howard Itten (in September) a past president who organized the chapter's structure.  The chapter would not be what it is today without those dedicated members.  Further information can be found in this newsletter.

October Meeting to Feature Guad River Guide

by Jimmy Moore and Patrick Amick

The October meeting of the Guadalupe River Chapter of Trout Unlimited will be held at the Dam Red Barn, below Canyon Lake Dam on Saturday, Oct. 25, 2003. Check-in will begin around 8:15 a.m. There will be lease orientation classes at 9:00 a.m. and Noon. All lease class participants are asked to please be prompt, as classes will start on the hour, and to bring their vehicle license plate numbers, which are required for the application paperwork.

The program will begin about 10:45 a.m. Scott Graham, past president of GRTU, will present a program titled "Fly Fishing the Guad". Scott is a well-known and respected guide on the Guadalupe. Without a doubt, Scott knows more about the Guadalupe River and its trout than anyone. He was also the first full-time guide on the Guad. After lunch, Scott will conduct a streamside clinic on nymphing. The clinic costs $10 per person, which all goes to the chapter. Through-out Scott's Fly Fishing career he has obtained numerous achievements that have contributed to his success and notoriety as well as allowing him the opportunity to put something back into the sport he loves.  For a list of Scott's achievements, please check Scott's web page:

He also does salt water guiding at the coast. Just a couple of weeks ago, Scott caught and released a giant tarpon off the Texas Coast. You can see photos of this monster on Scott's web page. He estimated it to weigh right at 200 pounds, truly a once in a lifetime catch and very nearly a record for Tarpon on a fly rod.  Scott will also include a little about salt-water fly-fishing in his presentation.  If you're interested in fly fishing the Guadalupe and want to learn from the "Master", this is a GRTU meeting that you will not want to miss.

After the program, raffle drawings and door prizes will be awarded, and some members will have custom-tied flies and other items for sale, with monies benefiting GRTU. Local shops, including the new shop in Austin, Sportsman's Finest, have donated door prize items. John Van Ness of Austin Outdoor Gear and Guidance has graciously donated an Illusion kayak by Perception Kayak (approximate value $700) to be raffled off. Raffle tickets for the kayak will be on sale at the October, January and April meetings, and the winner will be announced at the April meeting.

A delicious lunch will be served at Noon for $7 per person, join us for good food and good conversation. As always, desserts are welcome!


>From NORTH or SOUTH: Just North of New Braunfels on I-35 take Exit 191,(Canyon Lake Exit), which is FM 306 and go WEST,  about 14 miles to Sattler (Canyon Lake area).  Go past the traffic light at FM 2673 in Sattler for about 2 miles, (through Canyon City) and turn Left at the blinking caution light and small road sign marking the South Access Rd.  Follow the South Access Road for about two miles, passing below the dam and across the spillway.  The Dam Red Bar will be on your left. You cannot go much further as the road is closed because the bridge below the spillway has not been repaired.

>From the WEST: From US 281, turn EAST on FM 306, which is between Twin Sisters and Spring Branch.  Drive about 16 miles to the blinking caution light (just before you enter the area called Canyon City)   Turn Right on South Access and follow the directions above to the Dam Red Bar which will be on your left.

>From the EAST: From I-10, take SH 46  to I-35.  Go North on I-35 to Exit 191 (Canyon Lake Exit), which is FM-306. Go west, (Left), on FM306, and follow the directions for North and South above.

Of course there are other routes, just check your Texas map for other ways that might be better for your travel.

Scott Graham and his giant.
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We've leased the fishing rights to over 70 private sites all of which are accessible within a two-hour drive of your area. Many sites can be reached in under a half hour and are available for day or half-day use. Our goal is to provide Club members with bass fishing as it was meant to be — in well-stocked waters and uncrowded conditions.

How does the Club work? The Club Directory details all of our sites. Members consult the Club Directory and select the site or combination of sites they would like to fish, then call the Club Reservation Office to reserve them. Members automatically receive a confirmation number at this time. Members print the confirmation number on a Reservation Card, which is placed on the dashboard of their vehicle. This card identifies Great American Bass Club members to the landowner and verifies their right to enter Club property.

The Club has also negotiated partnerships with selected guides, lodges and manufacturers who offer substantial discounts on guided trips to Mexico, Florida, and the Texas coast, as well as selected fishing merchandise and boats.

For further information please contact the Club Office at (888) 303-4822 or visit our website at
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From the President

I am excited about the advent of a new trout season on the Guadalupe. When I visit with fisherman around the country, they all marvel at the idea of trout in Texas—a fact of which GRTU members should be exceptionally proud. Our river has faced extraordinary challenges in the past few years and has emerged as a prime fishery that is welcoming and accessible to the largest Trout Unlimited chapter in the United States.

Last year's devastating flood has changed the river, creating new gravel bars (watch out for some big holes!), different spawning grounds and it remains one of the most beautiful rivers to fish anywhere. While some of the ancient cypress trees are gone, and some of the sites are quite different in terms of access and islands, this simply presents new fishing challenges for all of us and maintains the thrill of fishing this river. Last year, just after the flood, here seemed to be some trepidation among members about whether the river was fishable. From my experience, the fishing was terrific, one of the best seasons I have enjoyed in years. You shoulda been there.

The most exciting news about our river is the success we have seen as a result of sustained flows during the summer months. Our agreement with Guadalupe Blanco River Authority (GBRA) resulted in minimum sustained flows of at least 200 cfs through the summer months. A good bit of the time the flows hovered around 300 cfs and we had very good flows throughout July and August. In late August and early September, I heard several reports of landing very healthy trout of substantial girth. And not just one per day, but several and farther down the river than I expected would happen. Reports of fish between Rio Raft and Ponderosa were regular and often included varieties of perch, bass and even a catfish or two. Many thanks to our champion of the agreement with GBRA, David Schroeder. David's tireless persistence in seeing the agreement through and efforts to round up the rest of us to join him in the fight has made this monumental agreement with

GBRA a reality—one that will benefit the river and our chapter in countless ways.

David's superb efforts and talent in technology have also resulted in making lease access program renewals available on-line. Read more about it on page 6. Our lease access program is a distinguishing feature of our TU chapter that is the envy of other chapters around the country. That we can now make it available to members for renewal without sending out mass mailings of applications will save our chapter hundreds of dollars every year and vastly simplify the monumental task of managing all of the data associated with that program. Last year we had over 400 lease access members. We anticipate that with the excellent conditions predicted for fishing this river this year, there will be a significant increase in interest in this program. After all, the flood is over, the fishing this summer has been great and we are looking at ways to obtain more year-round leases to promote this fishery on a year-round basis. Lease Access Orientation classes are scheduled in Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Gruene, in addition to before and after each general meeting. Encourage fisherman you know to check out the webpage at for the class best for their schedule. New Board Member

Steve Stilp has taken over the vacany on the GRTU Board of Directors left by Marian Tilson. Steve is also the Austin area rep and will be conducting the lease access orientation classes in that area. His contact information is listed on the cover.

Go Fish! <*))))))))<

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Flow Committee Report

Flow Committee Report

By David Schroeder

A new day has dawned for trout fishing on the Guadalupe. The flow agreement between GRTU and GBRA (Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority), signed in 2001, officially began on May 1. Trout will now be able to thrive for 10, or more, miles of river below Canyon Dam. The agreement will be of tremendous benefit to the trout, because it will increase the minimum flow level from 90 cfs to 200 cfs during the May through September period. Trout are vitally dependent on the volume of cold, winter-chilled water released daily from the bottom of Canyon Lake. The habitat is highly constrained by the lowest flows, and trout kills have been reported during these times. That usually happens during the hottest, driest time of the year. Now, this cold water will flow abundantly all summer long turning the river into consistent, prime trout stream habitat as it rushes faster and farther downstream. Are you thinking what I'm thinking: trophy trout fishing on the Guadalupe!

Flows have been excellent this summer. Releases were around 300 cfs for June and July thanks to strategically timed rainfall, and the Corps of Engineers for stretching out the release of floodwaters from Canyon Lake. At this writing, it is August and all the lake's floodwaters are gone, but flows continue at 200 cfs- guaranteed until October 1. Wow!! Not only will this benefit trout, but all river recreation and the local economy, as well.

GBRA was kind enough to sit down with GRTU in June and explain their plans for implementing the agreement. We were very assured and impressed with the way the flows are going to be monitored. There is a triggering mechanism to the agreement. The lake must reach full capacity anytime after January 1 (for at least for one day) of each year to enable the flows for the entire period. On the average, this will happen at least two out of every three years, and will likely be closer to 3 out of every 4 years. Unfortunately, the enhanced flow won't be available during drought, but increased
demand for Canyon Lake's water could augment the flows during those times.

The Guadalupe is transitioning to the next level of quality trout fishing. It's going to take time to rebuild the insect populations that were reduced as a consequence of scouring from the 2002 flood, and all the trout that were lost in the warm water that followed. The cold-water under story re-established itself nicely in Canyon Lake over the past winter, and insect activity is reportedly on the increase. Good things now will come.

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On-Line Membership Application on GRTU Website

By David Schroeder

GRTU is offering a new, on-line membership application on its website It will be of great convenience to those wishing to join/renew their GRTU membership, and will save the chapter a great deal of money in printing and postage- money that will go, instead, to purchasing more trout and leases.

The membership application is interactive and you fill-in the required information in the slots. The process can detect if you've inadvertently left out certain information and will tell you what to correct. It's going to be more accurate than ever before. It will also total up all your fees for the correct amount to send in. It will greatly reduce the amount of time that our volunteer Lease Coordinators have to spend processing applications. And the best part: You won't have to wait on the mailing of renewal notices, simply go to the site and fill-out the information and submit your application early.

Once you enter all your information, click "Submit Form" and a formatted membership application will appear. You will need to print two copies of the form using your web browser's print button. After printing, click the "Finished" button and it will list the names and address of the Area Membership Representatives. Mail the forms and your check to the closest one to you. (At this time, we don't offer credit card sign-ups). The information will not be processed until the Area Rep receives your printed application and a check. You can always redo the application if you make a mistake or decide on a different level of membership.

GRTU will not mail membership applications, except to those members who do not have email addresses, or for those who specifically request an application. I believe everyone is going to be happy with the on-line registration at the website, as it is going to be easier, more convenient, less error prone system than the old paper application.

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Lease Orientations

Gruene Outfitters

Wednesday, November 12, 2003 _ 6:00 PM

Wednesday, December 10, 2003 _ 6:00 PM

Wednesday, January 14, 2004 _ 6:00 PM

Wednesday, February 11, 2004 _ 6:00 PM


Presenter: Shelly Marmon

I Fly, the Angler's Edge

Post Oak and Westheimer

Tuesday, October 14, 2003 _ 7:00 PM

Wednesday, January 14, 2004 _ 7:00 PM

Tuesday, February 10, 2004 _ 7:00 PM

Orvis Houston

Westheimer at Augusta

Wednesday, November 5, 2003 _ 7:00 PM

San Antonio

Presenter: Scott Thompson

The Tackle Box

6330 North New Braunfels

Wednesday, October 29, 2003 _ 6:00 PM

Thursday, November 13, 2003 _ 6:00 PM

Thursday, December 11, 2003 _ 6:00 PM

Wednesday, January 14, 2004 _ 6:00 PM

Lease Access Orientation Class Schedule

At General Meetings

October 25, 2003 _ 9:00 and Noon

January 24, 2004 _ 9:00 and Noon

April 24, 2004 _ 9:00 and Noon


Presenter: Steve Stilp

Austin Angler

312 ½ Congress

Monday, October 13, 2003 _ 6:30 PM

Thursday, November 13, 2003 _ 6:30 PM

Monday, December 15, 2003 _ 6:30 PM

Thursday, January 15, 2004 _ 6:30 PM

Austin Outfitters

2901 Capital of Texas Hwy

Saturday, November 22 _ 6:30 PM

Sportsman's Finest

12434 FM 2244 in Bee Caves (71 and 2244)

Saturday, October 18, 2003 _ 2:00 PM

Saturday, December 6, 2003 _ 1:00 PM


Presenter: Hyl Karbach
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In Memoriam

In Memoriam

Over the past year, our chapter lost three dear and valued members. Here are some of the memories they left behind. Howard Itten As President of the Chapter from 1989 to 1991, Howard Itten was responsible for taking initial steps to reorganize the Guadalupe Chapter from a well-intentioned but loosely operated body, limited in size and potential accomplishment, into a more efficiently-run, business-like organization capable of developing future growth and effectiveness as both a recreational and conservation-minded organization. Howard's early efforts were the forerunner of today's very successful Chapter. He was a stickler for doing things right, the only way, and the results from his efforts can be seen today. He was made an Honorary Life Member in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the chapter. Erik Bataille remembers: "As you know he was my predecessor as president and he taught me a lot. After his wife was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, of course we understandably did not see him much, as he had to move to Temple on his wife's behalf. But in early 2000 in either the January or April meeting he came back to a GRTU meeting to see all of us after his wife had passed away. He was upbeat and excited about maybe having the opportunity to go fishing again. It was then that he gave me one of the most important and valuable pieces of information anyone has ever given me. And to this day I remember his words almost verbatim. Howard and I were sitting and visiting at the meeting about the possibility of my being able to go and fish in Alaska with Jeff and Cyndie Schmitt and Alan Bray. The Schmitt's were going back to Alaska later that summer with Alan Bray and they asked me if I wanted to go along. Of course I wanted to go badly but was feeling quite a bit of guilt about whether or not to spend that kind of time and money on a vacation just for myself. Howard made it very clear that I should go. Period. He did not hesitate even for a moment in telling me so. He said that if I waited until later in life I may not get the opportunity to go. He had just spent several years nursing his sick wife and he knew exactly what he was talking about. He said, "Erik, you are a farm boy from Iowa". (Which is true) "You have heard the old saying, You've got to make hay while the sun shines". No truer words were ever spoken... I will forever remember Howard fondly for that bit of sage advice... Needless to say I went to Alaska with the Schmitts and Alan and had the time of my life..."

From Bob Tuttle

Marian Tilson

Can't you see her now, patiently staying in one spot, cast after cast, "fishing partner" instead of a vest, her son's old jacket, wading staff, and at peace. That is the picture of Marian Tilson that comes to mind for me. I am proud to say she was my "fishing buddy". Marian started me out with her old equipment. We were anything but a fashion statement on the river. She even had me wearing old garden boots instead of fishing boots and she wore old sneakers with felt on the bottom. I remember one day as we were fishing, a canoe loaded with men came by and announced they were from Victoria's Secret and could they take our picture. Marian laughed so hard she cried. However, as we grew in friendship our river attire improved (it really couldn't do anything but improve).

She quickly got me involved in GRTU, not just as a member but a secretary!! She did quite a sell. But then again she tried to sell everyone on GRTU. She was a mainstay in the organization, keeping up with the by-laws, setting us all straight with Robert's Rules of Order, renewing all the San Antonio area lease membership, but closest to her heart was spreading the joys of fishing on the river.

As time went by Marian and I acquired another regular fishing buddy, Cindy Stacy. We were on the river most every week. There was not too much that kept Marian off the river, in fact the only times were when her family was in town, or a church commitment. I will always be grateful for the wonderful times we had on the river. But the friendship extended outside of the river. Marian taught me wonderful lessons in perseverance, determination, patience, giving of self, and most importantly faith. She was a wonderful Christian, a lady, and we as GRTU members were blessed to have had her as a vibrant member.

From Karen Gebhardt

One of my fondest memories of Marion was from the "Troutfest" on a morning that was closer to Zero than it was to the freezing point. Incredibly we had a very big group of kids there to learn how to fly cast and to try to catch a trout on a flyrod. Just as amazing was the fact that we had big group of volunteers there to help them. Marion, as always, was one of the first to show up and one of the very last to leave, be damned the weather, there were kids to teach! In all the years I worked with Marion on the Board of Directors she never once lost her focus on the important issues at hand and yet paid incredible attention to the smallest details. As president I learned quickly to call on her and discuss the issues with her, she didn't have email in those days and so much of the work was done over the internet. She wore her heart on her sleeve and never failed to deliver an opinion, you did not need to guess where Marion stood. One of the last discussions I had with Marion was last March during the time that I was working on filling the Officer and Director vacancies. The term on her Board Position was expiring and I wanted to know if she would like to continue to serve and to discuss the other candidates with her. She liked the slate but was concerned that she would not be able to serve the Chapter effectively. I pleaded with her, in my gentle way that many on the Board know, to continue and she finally agreed to do so. The Guadalupe River never had nor never will have a "Bigger Champion" than Marion Tilson. I will miss her and this Chapter will miss her with her tireless energy and dedication. From Billy Trimble

I had just moved from Montana to Austin to attend graduate school, and I had been accessing the Guad from Rio, oblivious to any other means to the river aside from the dam. On this day, I was fishing downstream from Pott's, working my way back upstream and came upon an elderly woman, casting a bugger to the bank. I waded out to her and we started chatting, and she told me about GRTU. As I moved upstream I turned around and watched her land a fish. I went home and joined GRTU.

From James Pelland

Paul Schubauer

During the past year, the Chapter has lost several of its dear Honorary Members.  Paul Schubauer was one of the very early members of the Guadalupe River Chapter.  He devoted much time and gave great support to the Chapter during its critical and formulative years.


Paul served in various capacities including the presidency, and by his preference and dedication, the longest term as vice-president ever served by any chapter member.  While he was very involved in the early trout-stocking program, one of his major contributions was in leading the exploration and "planting" of trout eggs in Whitlock-Vibert boxes.
His dedication to the success of the Chapter should be long remembered.  Paul is survived by his equally dedicated wife and Chapter Honorary Member, Hazel Schubauer.

From Jim Vynalek

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From the Fisheries Director

By Mark Marmon, VP Fisheries, and Patrick Amick

Good news from the fishery front - the fishing has been great, even through the summer. The flow agreement kept water temperatures in the low to middle 60's through the warm months. Some anglers have even reported catching fish over three pounds!

Two new leases have been added for this season, one of which will be open year round.

All members are asked to remember the special regulations on public and lease access sections of the river. GRTU regulations, including single-hook flies and lures, will be enforced throughout the lease access sections. Lease members are also asked to consider a barbless hook requirement for the coming season. This new regulation can be discussed at the general meeting in October.
New Board Member
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Floating, Sink-tip and Sinking Fly Lines

Jimmy D. Moore

Floating Fly Line

With a floating line, a weighted or wet fly has a tendency to rise when the rod tip is raised or line is hand-stripped  to give action to the fly. This rising of the fly takes it out of the "strike zone" achieved when letting the fly sink to a pre-determined level. This does not infer that a floating fly line cannot be used for fishing wet flies as well as dry flies, since the leader and tippet are below the surface of the water and the rising - falling action might be just the ticket to catch that illusive trout. (see illustration)

Sink Tip Fly Line

With a "Sink Tip" fly line, a weighted or wet fly still rises even when the rod tip is raised or line is hand-stripped. However, it doesn't rise nearly as much as with a floating line. Therefore, the fly stays at the pre-determined level, (strike zone), longer. (see illustration)

Sinking Fly Line

With a sinking line, the weighted or wet fly rises only slightly when the rod tip is raised or the line is hand stripped. Therefore, the fly stays very close to the pre-determined level, (strike zone), that you started with when you counted down the fall of the fly as it settled downward in the water. (see illustration)
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A Quarter Mile


Ron McAlpin

I love fishing little creeks. They're usually overlooked by everyone else. Sometimes you can explore a little farther up or down than others have been and stumble onto the kind of fishing our ancestors must have encountered all over the country.

Saturday morning, following a tradition of breakfast tacos and a breakfast cigar for the drive, Jeff and I waded down a river fork from a highway crossing that gets a lot of traffic. Rope swing, bank fishing, and people barbecuing in the shade of the bridge. This is the Hill Country, in a string of little resort towns near the headwaters of a crystal-clear limestone river.

Down the South Fork, we each caught a few wise fish, and watched many bass follow our streamers and nip their tails. Farther downstream, the stacks of beer bottles disappeared. At the convergence with the North Fork, the creek coming down was only ten feet wide and canopied by cypress trees. A garden of ruellia along the shallow bank teemed with tiny minnows. High above the far bank dangled porch swings and manicured lawns, but they were easy enough to ignore down here.

Scanning a string of jade pools divided by glistening rifflewater, I headed upstream. Maybe it wasn't on purpose, but I had scraped off Jeff, leaving him at the last pool in the South Fork. He didn't know I had hiked up the North bank and stopped to change lines. I was fishing a little fly rod - a six-foot-long three-weight.

I glided up the rocky riffle in slow purposeful stride, as bluegill impaled themselves on every rollcast. In the pools, the bass pods sacrificed themselves down the chain of command. A gentle loft into the pool would take the largest fish - a twelve-inch smallmouth in the first pool - and then down the hierarchy all the way to the four-inch fish. I crept up the sandbar on the left bank and could see the pod swirling at my feet - not quite knowing what to do with themselves or about this strange invasion. But they just couldn't overcome their instinct to strike every drifting fly. Standing in the riffle and trolling into the head of the pool brought to hand three or four more spotted bass. Jeff had caught up by now and was still catching fish in the first pool when I edged up toward the next.

The first long cast to the tailing pool incited a dark charge from the far bank. I let out a loud redneck laugh as a fourteen-inch largemouth launched into the air. He shot from vegetation to stump and back again, but with determination and my tiny rod, I managed to keep him from wrapping me. Once I had him turned into the riffle, he wore himself out fighting the current. Six of his underlings volunteered from the same pool, younger siblings mixed with smallmouths and endemic cousins.

There were two more pools mostly like this, though each pool has a life of its own. The biggest bass from one pool did wrap me around four different sticks, and somehow stayed hooked. I unwrapped him and marveled at the speed as he spun on the next tether.

We wrangled up a silted impoundment with that feel of quicksand along the right bank. Somewhere down there was an old dam, but it had been eaten by trees, grass and the course of the little river. The water warmed. The bass in the lake spooked at even the most delicate cast. I happily brought in a stout warmouth and a Rio Grande cichlid - two scarce enough trophies with lucent markings.

Heading back down, we trolled into the pools and enticed a dozen more little bass. In a quarter-mile of creek, Jeff and I had educated and released over fifty wild river bass - Texas brook trout.
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The Empire State


 My fly fishing career isn't impressively long in the tooth _ spanning only five or six years _ but it remains nothing, if not short and sweet. I mean, really; when you're breaking in your new gear - and your self! - on the nation's elite fisheries (all on the company travel dime, around meetings and such) you learn fast the ridiculous, perfect marriage of 3-piece Scott's, and work out of town! And while my esteemed employer has graciously, if unwittingly, positioned me to wade the Yakima, the Deschutes, the Battenkill, and even GRTU's homewaters, it is my trips to New York where I have actually done the "mostest with the leastest"; or quality fishing with "years of service", if you please…

 The Salmon River, just north of Syracuse on I81, flows right through the hard-working village of Pulaski. (And say, before I commence in earnest here, don't let this bunch catch you saying "Pul-lask-ee", either...its "Pul-lask-eye"!) In any event... Perhaps it helped, my being an alien curiosity from Texas, but the more I kept coming around town, the more I found this area, its people, and this fine river to be something of a home away from home; a mistress to Lady Guadalupe, as it were. And really, who could blame me for my affection (or was that in-fection)? Lady Luck never has spoiled me so much as she did my maiden float down a frigid, icy Salmon, when I would bring to hand a grand chromer Steelhead - 33" long, 16" girth, mind you! - on an orange salmon egg fly, scarcely larger than a bb. (It is a wondrous thing, indeed, that the release went as well as it did, given all the photos my guide expertly shot of just this one life-altering fish!) On a subsequent wade trip to the Salmon, I interrupted a 40-pound bull Chinook, tired and overworked from the spawn, maybe, but still plenty ornery to railroad the end of my floating line. (And with apologies to the ubiquitous health and fitness industry, I offer the rutting bull salmon, one like this fellow, as a most worthy wellness alternative!) Still another time, I watched stunned as a Chinook carelessly noodled all around my ankles...up and down, up and down...never venturing any further from my felt bottoms than 20 feet away, and sometimes as close as 10 inches. By the time all this polite commiserating had gone on for 20 minutes, and my "hostess" actually deigned to take my streamer, she would abruptly awaken both of us with a startling, blistering burst. (Now there's a sight to see, I can tell you, a big boy like myself walking on water, trying in vain to keep up with a runaway Chinook!) Or how about the time I ventured away from el Rio Salmon to fish the ocean-like depths of nearby Lake the stoic, sober company of Constellation Energy's Nine Mile nuclear power station?? Fortunate though I may be to make my living in the electricity business, even I concede there is something a bit left of conventional, salmon fishing within rifle shot of a nuclear cooling tower!

 Perhaps one of upstate New York's most immediately endearing (and enduring!) traits is that it actually shares nothing common with New York City. Homesickness would have been assured early and often had I spent all this time in the City. However, all too conveniently, Texas, NY and Mexico, NY (I kid you not!) both lie just a few fences over from Syracuse and Pulaski, had this wayward Texan really been in need, and of a mind! But seriously, the reality is that the folks you'll meet in these parts are just as inviting as you shall ever find, and if you're blessed like me, you'll actually make a lasting friendship, or two. It sure doesn't hurt being an Aggie, either; not when a Texas-bred, fellow maroon-blood actually owns a tackle shop and a fishing lodge that straddle the river, in its downtown Pulaski stretch. (I know. You're wondering "what in blazes is a Texas Aggie doing in the middle of upstate New York?". Well, to borrow from Jimmy Buffet… "changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes" were just what Bob needed and found in Pulaski, after a rough spot back in the day, in Houston.)

 Know just this much about upstate New York: This is storied, unique country, memorable for the tree-lined and granite-walled big-water of the Salmon… the mammoth Salmonids barreling and blasting throughout the Lake Ontario watershed… and the
many good folks so fast to make friends. Prioritizing time after work amongst supper, next-day work preparations, or running north for a bit of superb fishing… Well, I'd venture to say it ought to come pretty easily to you now, figuring on how to proceed!
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A Fayette County Gift

By Mr. Blair

I'm a regular at Fayette County Reservoir. Since 1986 I have spent my spare time fishing and learning the lake (prior to discovering flyfishing), and in October I always take vacation and fish an entire week. The fall of 1994 was no different, except due to work priorities, I was fishing the last week of September. I had promised my four year old daughter, Sarah, that I would take her on Friday, the last day of fishing. By Friday I was tired and tried to talk my way out of the trip. Sarah would have no part of it, "We're going Dad, and we're taking hot chocolate and donuts to eat on the way, like we always do." Sarah really wasn't that excited about fishing, but her six year old sister was in school, so this was a special day with Dad, hot chocolate, and donuts.

Two hours before daylight the boat was ready. As a last thought, I tossed Sarah's older sister's Zebco in the rod box. "You never know," I thought, "she might want to cast." After a little hot chocolate and a donut, Sarah slept the rest of the hour and a half drive to the lake.

I had been on morning fish all week, and we were quickly into them again this morning. I would set the hook and hand the rod to Sarah. With a little help supporting the rod, she landed fish after fish. I had brought my camera, and we were having a blast. I would set the camera timer, rush to the front of the boat to set the camera on the fishing seat there, and dash back with fish in hand to get a group photo of Sarah, the fish, and me. Sarah made me stop when there was only one picture left in the camera. She said she wanted to save it for later. As the sun rose, the fishing slowed, and I moved to a main lake point. With things slowing down, Sarah decided she wanted to cast the Zebco. I rigged it with a Baby Bass Assassin and was surprised to see how well Sarah cast. She had a quick motion that shot the lure out about twenty-five feet, when her timing was right. When her timing was wrong, the lure would drop behind her as she started the forward cast. She seemed completely puzzled by these mistimings. I would stop and help her rewind, and I noticed that her misfires grew less frequent. I prayed that she would get a strike, trying to image what would happen if a solid bass decided to eat that little lure she was throwing. It was 9:30AM now, and the fishing was dead. No bites for Sarah or her Dad.

I decided to move to a grass bed nearer the dam. Earlier in the week, the fish had been schooling in the open water near the dam. It was still a little early for schooling action, but I wanted to be in position if it started. I jumped the Champion on plane, and we headed south. The wind had dropped, and the lake was smooth as a mirror. I noticed there were already boats fishing the open water in front of the dam. Apparently the schooling fish had started early. Suddenly, a hundred yards ahead, a giant school of bass erupted on the surface. Some fish actually did cartwheels chasing the shad into the air above the water. I glanced quickly at Sarah, the look on her face was saying, "What are those crazy fish doing?"

I raced the boat forward to get as close as I dare to the fish. As I shut down the big engine and ran to the front of the boat to get on the trolling motor, my heart sank. I hadn't yet prepared my spinning rod for the schooling fish. The only rod available was a bait casting rod rigged with a top water lure I had used that morning. I grabbed the rod and cast just as the school disappeared from the surface. I worked the lure back. No hit. That was when I heard Sarah scream! The Zebco rod was doubled over, the tip in the water. Sarah had both hands on the rod handle, but she was being pulled overboard. I didn't even know she had cast! We were in forty feet of water, was it possible she had hung the lure in one of the submerged trees that were present in this part of the lake? I rush to her, and loosened the drag to ease the strain. She tried to hand me the rod, and I almost took it. "No, this is your fish!" I shouted, and for support stuck the butt of the rod under the arm hole in her "Littlest Mermaid" life vest. I moved one of her hands in front of the reel to improve her leverage. Line continued to scream from the Zebco. "Is this a fish, or is she hung? What kind of fish? This isn't acting like a school bass," the thoughts raced through my mind. The boat was not moving forward any longer— it had to be a fish. Sarah slowly made progress, but each time the fish made a strong run. I watched in awe, giving silly and bad advice like, "Keep the rod tip up." There was no way this fish would allow Sarah to raise the rod tip, and even if she could have, it would have been the wrong thing to do since it might encourage the fish to jump. I remembered that I had mashed down the barb on Sarah's hook in case she hooked herself. If the fish jumped, she might lose it. It dawned on me that the responsibility for landing the fish would shift to me once it was at the surface. I never carry a net. I might have only one chance to lip the fish. I got ready. Sarah did her part, and slowly maneuvered the fish from under the boat where most of the battle had raged. And then I saw it— a big bass, twenty maybe twenty-one inches. The fish finally came to the surface and jumped. I lunged for it. Charles Atlas couldn't have taken that fish from my grip.

I was in shock. Sarah had landed the largest fish of the week. I remembered the camera with one picture remaining, but Sarah was afraid to hold the fish. I grabbed a towel and laid it in her lap. I gently placed the fish in her lap and prayed it wouldn't jump. One move by the bass, and it would be flopping all over the floor of the boat. My photo would be a goner. But the fish never flinched. I shot the picture, and lowered the fish back into the water. It was obvious the fish had been previously caught and released, a large hole was present on the opposite side of its mouth from where Sarah had hooked it. We released the fish without taking the time to measure it. It had already been out of the water long enough.

On the way home, Sarah recounted how she had cast and hooked the "big fish," as it is now known. After a few retellings, Sarah drifted off to sleep, and I was left alone to ponder the day's events. For the last several years I had released every fish caught at Fayette County. Now, the lake had repaid me with a single bass. What a gift I had been granted that day. I began to think of who I owed thanks. First, God. His instructions to that bass must have read something like this: "9:45AM — Intercept four year old girl traveling south at thirty-five miles per hour in burgundy and gray colored bass boat. Eat Baby Bass Assassin lure and act naturally. P.S. Be sure to hold still for the photograph." Second, the fishermen or women who had caught the fish and released it, so that it could be there for Sarah. Third, Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Colorado River Authority who have maintained Fayette County Reservoir as a great bass lake, where this experience could happen.

I had never cried leaving Fayette County, even during the early years when I had every right based on my fishing results. But on this day, with Sarah asleep beside me, I cried. return to top

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