What is the most remembered fish to us as kids? For most it's
the panfish, more specifically the bream, which includes the
bluegill and sunfishes. Summers spent usually with a bobber
and worm catching these little feisty fish from some pond,
creek or lake.
Where I originally grew up in the West Texas region, water was
scarce. There were no creeks or ponds available for any causal
fishing. Therefore fishing was a savored summer pastime. I
always looked forward to my father's vacation time, as he was
an avid fisherman back then. We always went to favored lakes
or river locations and that usually meant a trip up to a couple
of hundred miles.
Some of my most cherished memories are of Brady Lake, just outside
of Brady, Texas. This sleepy little town was on the edge of
what is known as the as the Texas Hill Country with it's Green
hills and lots of large oak and pecan trees. I knew that some
day I would be living in the Texas Hill Country, it captured
my heart then and still does today. Quite a change from West
Texas where the tallest trees were four foot scrubby looking
mesquite trees that have three inch thorns and greenery was
cactus, lots of cactus. One quickly learns that in West Texas
just about everything kicks, scratches, bites, pinches and
is just down right ornery.
Brady Lake used to be known for it's large population of crappie.
This is where my dad was his happiest. We would spend a whole
week camping on the lake, each day going out and catching crappie.
When the days heat became too much for the "older folks" we kids
would grab our tackle and head for the backwaters and creeks.
These were my teen summer years right up to the time when I
left home. This is when I learned for the first time to truly
fish. Here I learned the secrets of the panfish.
This was in the days before "fish finders" and all the associated
electronic gear, which is in use to find fish these days. My
father taught me to read the waters whether it is still or
moving. He taught me to locate structure and identify possible
areas where fish would be holding. I learned to look for that
overhanging tree, an undercut bank, the boulder in the water
and what riffles, eddies, runs and swirls were. I learned
about lakes "turning over" and the affect it had on oxygen
displacement and the fishery and that this phoneme did not
exist in moving waters. Looking back, I realize just how
knowledgeable my dad really is and the seed he planted took
hold and grew.
There have been several times during my fishing over the years
that I have attracted the attention of a young person watching
me pull in one bream after another and being overly curious,
would strike up a conversation to find out what I was doing
and how come I was catching so many. In most cases this ends
with them leaving wishing they too could do such a thing.
Not so in all encounters. I remember a few years back of
having an unseen shadow for many of my trips fishing in
downtown Llano below the dam, on Llano River. One day the
"shadow" approached me and was holding one of those
twenty-dollar Wal-Mart fly fishing combo sets, still
in the box. He simply asked straight out if I would
teach him how to use it. So I spent the rest of the
day explaining knots, backing, fly lines, flies and
of course the basic casting lesson. I put him onto some
very willing sunfish and it was all smiles for him that
day. I still see him every now and then, a young adult,
older, wiser and an avid fly angler. I had planted a
seed and it grew.
Before all the floods recently here in the Hill Country, I,
Justin and Scott were on the San Gabriel South Fork and we
came across a family who had their two sons fishing with a
bobber and corn, apparently they were not doing well. When
they saw us catching fish, as it is the custom of all young
children, they began to ask a lot of questions. While I
chatted with the parents, Justin and Scott gave the boys
some quick fly fishing instruction but mostly doing the
casting and letting the boys bring in the fish.
They were small sunfish, but to the boys, they were the prizes
of the day. Needless to say they were having a great time
and really wanted to know more! I had a great time explaining
fly fishing to the parents and to their astonishment that it
could be no more expensive than normal fishing. I gave them
my card and told them if they were ever interested and needed
more information to search FAOL or contact me. We left them
to move on down the river before it became too dark . . .knowing
we had planted more seeds.
Until next time, good fishing to all and to all a good fish!