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Part One hundred eighty-four

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By Johnny (aka Hillfisher), Texas

It's near winter here in Central Texas. The last storm finally convinced the Pecan and Cottonwood trees to shed their remaining leaves. Time to get out the lawnmower for a final time this year and mulch some leaves. There is a nice size creek running through my backyard, which is full of panfish, bass and catfish. With the passing of the leaves, the waters are once again clear and uncluttered. The days are running anywhere from mid 70's to the low 60's. Today was a perfect day. A clear bright sunny day of 65 degrees and a very light southern breeze. I want to fish but the mowing can't wait. I have to start near the house and do a back and forth pattern moving slowly down towards the creek. Having a push mower and a large lot, this gives me a lot of time to reflect on this past year, especially of the fishing.

My creek in summer

This last year I have been able to give most of my attention to improving my fly fishing, studying the ways of the river panfish and bass and creating flys that would hopefully catch fish. I specify river fish because that's the type of fishing I prefer. Wading in these clear waters is an adventure, a new discovery each rounding of a bend. I would spend all week planning my weekend trips to the rivers. I have this affinity for moving water. I love the feel of the currents and the sound of the water. I have never flyfished in a lake or from a boat. Maybe someday, but with over 80,000 miles of river and creeks to fish here in Texas, it may be awhile.

I'm about halfway with the mowing now. Still time for reflection. The fishing was great this year! The rought finally ended. Lake Travis went from 40 feet below normal to above pooling stage in one month. Everything was green and new life was breathed into the waters and land. The spring White Bass, or to some the Sand Bass, run was phenomenal. Where the Llano feeds into LBJ Lake the run was so populated with bass that people were catching and releasing up to a hundred a day. It was a spring to remember. It was during this time I introduced a good friend of mine, Scott, into the art of fly fishing. He was never a dedicated fisherman and hated the idea of having to deal with live bait. I convinced him that flyfishing was made for him. I remember how excited he was when he caught his first fish. It was a small bream from the beaver pond upstream from my house.

Scott on Blanco I remember how this was his first trip to water after spending a couple of weeks practicing in a local schoolyard. He was having trouble casting his line out and it had become tangled at the end of his rod. While he was untangling the line, the fly was wiggling around in the water from all his movement. A bream came up and slurped his fly down and was running for deeper water. Here he was trying untangle the line and the fish was pulling the knots tighter! At this point he just grabbed the whole mess and started running backwards from the creek and landed his first fish. Not the prettiest thing to see, but effective. We laugh about it now as he has become a proficient flyfisher and has done very well this last summer.

Winter on my creek

I'm near the end now, each pass with the mower coming closer to the creek. I think of all the people I have shared this passion for flyfishing with. Those who I have taught and those who have shared their knowledge with me. I think of all the wonderful people I have made contact with through FAOL and the amazing knowledge base contained therein. That perhaps being the single biggest thing which differentiates the flyfisher from other fishing sports. The willingness to share knowledge and even to share some of our most favored areas with each other. I have met total strangers through the bulletin board, who have become close friends and we are always in touch. We share our love of the sport through stories, fly patterns and places to go.

I'm passing by the creek now with the mower. As I pass by I longingly look out over the water. The creek has a near solid canopy of trees. It is absolutely beautiful during the summer. Now that the leaves are gone, I notice some color in the lower branches ůmy long lost flys from the summer. Roll casting and steeple casting are the rule here. Rings are starting to form. The fish are rising. One last strip to mow. I'm no longer reflecting on the past but the future, what fly should I use today? It's about an hour before dark. Time to make more memories, to reflect on, for another day.

Winter Sunset

~ Johnny, AKA Hillfisher

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