Save Bristol Bay Road Show

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Talk about a great event for a great cause. The Save Bristol Bay Road Show will be in Austin on January 8th at Abel's on the Lake for a one night only event. They are out to gather support and spread the word on the potential harm the proposed Pebble Mine would cause this incredible Alaskan fishery/outdoor paradise. Check out the Save Bristol Bay homepage ( to learn more or just head over to Abel's on the Lake January 8th.

Patagonia Part 2

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The second part of our trip in Argentina (part one here) had us departing the Caluefu River and transporting about an hour and a half back towards Bariloche. One of the most impressive things about Fly Fishing Patagonia's operation was the amount of variety they have set up for their trips. While the first part of our adventure was spent fishing and camping a hundred miles from civilization, the second stretch gave us a very different look at the area we had come to visit.

Our home for the next couple of days was a working sheep ranch set near the banks of the Limay River. We had to say goodbye to Martin and Juan once we arrived at stop two, but met up with Alex who would guide us the remainder of the trip. After we got acquainted with Alex, he showed us around the property and gave us some history on it. It was really fascinating to learn about the land, the old buildings, and the general way of life of the people who had called it home. We also set up a game plan for the next few days which was focused on hunting big browns on the Limay.

The operators of the property had set up a feast for the night we arrived which we were really excited to take part in. They had a full on Argentine BBQ going which was quite an experience. Argentina is famous for having some of the most fantastic beef in the world. Coming from Texas, the land of cattle, Greg and I figured we would be decent judges on just how good the beef was. It did not disappoint in any way, the food was amazing. It wasn't just the beef either, everything they served was incredible. Our hosts at the ranch had been slow cooking a lamb in the brick oven for hours which in my mind was the highlight of the night. Now I can't say enough about how good the fishing is in Argentina, but I would be happy to agree that a trip to Argentina for the food and wine alone is well worth it. I was never much of a wine drinker before this trip but I found a love for Malbecs in Argentina. I have been trying different ones out ever since we returned and it's hard to find a bad one.

After an amazing dinner the night before, we woke up the next morning excited at our first shot at the Limay. Alex said we were going to be focusing on stretches of the river that did not have as many fish, but traditionally brought in some pigs. We would be solely wade fishing the next two days drifting streamers in search of the big boys. We fished hard the next couple of days, hitting stretches of the river that had wide banks and deeper water. Casting involved getting a lot of line out across the river, letting it drift down stream, and starting the retrieval process. This was repeated over and over, it had a feel of what I have been told steelheading in the northwest is like. A spey rod would have been perfect for this type of fishing. Each tug of the rod on the Limay really got your heart pumping as you knew what could possibly be on the other end. We brought in a number of beautiful fish on the Limay but did not net any of the huge fish the river is famous for.

Though we didn't catch the monsters we were after on this leg of the trip, it was still quite the experience. The backdrops to our sections of the Limay were some of the most post card worthy shots of the Andes that I can imagine. I knew the scenery in Argentina was going to be beautiful but I was really blown away by everything we saw. That would be no different as we made the move to our next destination. We had such a good time at our stay on the ranch but it was time to head up into the National forest for our final stretch of the trip.

Trout Time in Texas!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

I was able to make my first trip of the season down to the Guadalupe this past weekend. With Liz and Collins on a girls weekend visiting Liz's sister, Saturday was wide open to head south for some solid time on the water. As the forecast for the day called for 80 degree temperatures, the plan was to hit the water early and try and beat the heat. With the first round of Texas Parks and Wildlife's stocking program taking place the day before, I was hopeful to beat some of the crowd that I knew would be there as well. I made it down to stop number one, Rainbow Camp, right at day break. It's always a good sight pulling up to the water and having no other cars around, it really makes that 5:30 wake up call worth it.

I fished a pretty typical Guadalupe nymph rig for most of the morning. 6 weight rod, 5x tippet, split shot for some depth, and a variety of tandem patterns. I fished for a good hour and a half with no strikes, changing up fly combinations along the way. The first hookup came closer to 9am on a small copper john (size 22) that was trailing a hares ear. It was a beautiful 18 inch rainbow that I was able to get to the net. With the warmer water temperatures, I did my best to play the fish as little as possible. Long drawn out battles and warm water are a bad combination for trout on the Guadalupe. After a quick picture, he was back on his way.

It wasn't ten minutes after watching the first fish swim away, that fish number two was on, a pretty 13-14 inch rainbow. As with the first fish, he took the little copper john trailer. I felt like I was on to something. 

I fished for a while longer at Rainbow camp but with crowds increasing and no bites, I picked up and made a move. I stopped off at Action Angler to stock up on flies before heading to Lazy L&L for stop number two. There were a number of anglers on the water at the far end of Lazy L&L. I had to make my way down river a bit to have an area to fish. I fished a while with no success but the highlight came when Texas Parks and Wildlife showed up with their stocking crew. They brought bucket after bucket full of trout down to the water to release. I walked over to check it out and it was quite a sight seeing so many sizable trout swimming off down river for us anglers to chase. Of course I fished for a while longer after that but with the place becoming a mad house, I decided to pack it in for the day.

All in all, it was a fun first trip of the season to the Guadalupe. Sattler was having a big Christmas parade which I stopped off at (or got road blocked into) on the way home. The whole town was out in full force to show their holiday spirit. The Reel Fly shop was a great spot to take it all in as they had a keg of trout slayer and Christmas cookies for people to enjoy as the floats went by. Great way to top off the day!

Around Austin

Sunday, November 25, 2012

If you are out and about this coming Thursday, stop by Orvis in the Arboretum from 6-8pm. The store is hosting Jesse Griffiths and Jody Horton, authors of wild game cookbook Afield who will talk about their book and sign copies. There will be plenty of food and drink to enjoy with wild game hors d'oeuvres being served and Real Ale Brewing, Garrison Brothers Bros. Distillery and Argus Cidery all providing the beverages. Sounds like a great way to get some Christmas shopping done.

More info:

Bastrop Bass

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

This past Saturday, Liz's parents were kind enough to watch our sweet daughter Collins for the afternoon so we could sneak away and enjoy the day together. We headed out to the Hyatt Lost Pines in Bastrop and had a great little half day vacation. Liz had a massage scheduled at noon so I brought the fly rod along to keep me company until we met up for lunch at the bar.

The Hyatt Lost Pines property backs up to a beautiful stretch of the Colorado that has good fishing access. Having a kayak would have really been nice to explore the wide stretches of the river but with limited time, I settled for wandering the shoreline, sight-casting to cruising fish.

Being that it was 90 degrees (In November!), I figured the fish would be hanging low and moving slowly. I tied on an olive colored wooly booger and within the first couple of casts, had a nice little largemouth to hand. After working the same area for a while longer and catching one or two more baby bass, I moved down the river in hopes of bigger fish.

I found a nice little access area with a good vantage point and started scanning the water. To my excitement, three really nice bass, probably three to five pounds each, were cruising the river bottom within casting range. I cast to these fish on and off for twenty minutes but they wanted nothing to do with me. I tied on fly after fly hoping for some type reaction, nothing! When I made them mad enough, they would swim off down river out of sight. They would eventually cruise back up until I pissed them off again. Not sure what I was doing wrong but they certainly weren't falling for any of my tricks.

I eventually got the call and met Liz in the restaurant/bar and we had a really fun lunch. Fun all around day out at the Hyatt. Definitely bringing the kayak next time we make it out there.

Happy Late Halloween!!!

Patagonia: Trout Mecca

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A couple of years ago, my brother Greg and I made the voyage down to the southern hemisphere to experience first hand, the legendary trout fishing of Argentine Patagonia. As this was the biggest fishing trip we had ever been on, you can bet that plenty of time was spent finding the right outfitter to guide us along the way. In the end, we decided that the guys from Fly Fishing Patagonia were the right fit for us. Co-Owner Justi Campa was there from the beginning to answer the many questions that we had, and to help make this an unforgettable experience. I have written about FFP before as they are now guiding trips in other parts of the world, many of which are on the bucket list. They have a truly incredible operation and I would highly recommend them to anyone thinking of making the trip to one of their destinations.

Just as plenty of time went in to planning the trip, the same was the case for getting all the gear ready as the trip got closer. The gear list looked something like this:

-9 ft 6 wt rod
-Floating and sink-tip line
-Leaders: 1-5X (7.5ft and 9ft), plenty of them
-Tippet: 1X-6X
-Waders, Boots, Vest (basically cram all fly gear in one bag)
-Large assortment of flies from big streamers (Beadhead Woolybuggers of all colors, Leeches, anything else big and flashy), to Nymphs (Hare's Ear, Pheasant Tail, Prince Nymph, ...), to dries (ants, hoppers, dragon flys, elk hair and goddard caddis, Royal Wulff, midges); to name a few
-Clothing for every type of weather
-Headband flashlight (must)
Our trip had us leaving Austin in mid January which was the heart of their summer. We traveled from Austin to Atlanta, Atlanta to Buenos Aires, and BA to Bariloche. Bariloche is a gateway to the Patagonia region in Argentina and a cool little town with a great vibe. Greg and I were able to spend a night in Bariloche before heading to the river and we had a blast. The people are friendly, the scenery is beautiful and there are a lot of fun restaurants and bars. I would love to get back there with Liz during their winter as I hear the skiing is great as well.

                  Nahuel Huapi Lake in Bariloche                              

Day 2 had us amped up as it was time to fish. Our guides for the first part of the trip, Martin and Juan, picked us up early and we made the two hour drive from Bariloche to our let out area. Our trip was basically split into three parts with the first part (Days 2-5) spent fishing and camping along the Caluefu River. The Caluefu is a really fun river with a wide variety of terrain. Along the float, we experienced everything from mountains to a much flatter, almost desert like landscape. It was really neat to wind your way through such beautiful and ever changing countryside. 

A typical day on our float part of the trip was waking up and having breakfast by the fire. We would ease our way into the day, never being in too big of a rush. We came to realize there was really no need to be in a rush as the fishing was great all day long. After we ate and un-packed camp, we would load up the two boats (both pontoons) and head out. One boat would have all of the camping gear, food, supplies, etc… and would go out ahead towards where we would stop and have lunch. Our boat though was all about the fishing. We would fish all morning, slowly drifting our way down river. We would stop at sections that were good to wade and that we really wanted to fish thoroughly. Then we would load back up and keep heading down river. When we stopped for lunch, we would have a great meal, pop open a Quilmes or bottle of wine, and take a little nap. When done, the first boat would again go ahead and find a spot to start setting up camp for the night. We'd fish all afternoon loving every minute of it. When we got down to camp for the night, we would make a drink and kick back. Juan would grill up some amazing Argentinean steak, lamb or sausage and we would sit around the fire and talk about the fishing. Pretty sweet set up!

As far as the fishing itself, it was pretty amazing. We would generally catch about thirty or so fish a piece each day, ranging from browns and rainbows to their local perch, which looked somewhat like a largemouth bass. Most of the trout averaged around 17-18 inches with some getting much bigger. The fish of the trip came on the second day when Greg hooked into a behemoth. After a ten minute battle, he pulled in a seven plus pound brown that was a beautiful fish. There is no photo evidence though because ole buttery hands dropped the fish as he was raising it up for the picture. The fish landed on the boat and somehow squirmed its way to the only opening and slid ever so smoothly back into the river. To this day, I still tease Greg about that. Luckily, we did get it on video which you can view below. Sorry about the picture quality, I know it's not the best.

The patterns we used would depend on the conditions, structure, and time of day. When the wind was calm in the morning and evening, we would throw dries. As the wind picked up (it can get very windy in Patagonia), we would either drift nymphs, or more likely switch over to sinking lines and strip streamers. The fish seemed to love them all. 

                                                                          Argentinian Perch 

One of the most memorable hookups of my life came on the third day of the float. We were drifting and a good sized fish took the dry, it was off to the races from there. I'm not exactly sure how big this fish was as I never saw him, but he was a fighter. He headed down stream and just about spooled me before I could finally get some back on him. We pulled the boat off and I jumped out and started fighting him from shore. I got him within about twenty yards of me before he decided this time to head straight up river. Once again, he got well into my backing as I gave chase. Finally, I got him to the point where I thought I had the upper hand but he had other ideas. He spit the fly and was gone. I was pretty tired at that point as this had been going on for a while. Even though I didn't catch the fish, I had a huge smile on my face, what a battle! I knew I was going to remember that one.

The first part of the trip was such an amazing experience. Fishing all day long, camping beneath the Southern Cross each night, not seeing another human being for four days, really just a perfect escape. Part two would be just as fun, but with a whole different feel to it.

More to come...


The Big Thompson

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A buddy of mine and long time local angler, Andy Barclay, was kind enough to write up a piece on a past trip he had to Colorado. Andy is a native Austinite and an avid fly-fisherman, and loves getting out on the water any chance he can. Read more about Andy at the bottom of this blog, first though, here is his take on the Big Thompson River.

Mention the Big Thompson River in Colorado to any serious fly fisherman and you'll see his eyes get as big as silver dollars and a grin come across his face. Yes, there is a river that holds Brook Trout, Rainbows , Colorado River Cutthroat Trout, Yellowstone River Cutthroat Trout,  Greenback Cutthroat Trout, and Browns  in Rocky Mountain National Park and if you fish it right then you'll catch them.

As soon as I graduated from college and could afford trips and fishing gear I decided to make a rule of hiring a guide the first time I attempted fishing new waters and the Big Thompson was no exception. My friends Brian and Dave and I booked Mike Oatley from The Estes Angler Fly Shop. Mike has a young family and is a veteran of the Big Thompson and knows exactly where to go and the techniques to catch trout. Meeting him at the fly shop we piled in to his old jeep and with the windows down and good tunes on the radio headed out to the river. He took us to the Fern Lake Trail in the park where you can access the Big Thompson and the river holds the most handsome and colorful fish you will ever see. The river itself is something to marvel at in all of its beauty.


Fishing the river can be done by wet wade in warmer temperatures or wearing a quality pair of waders and hopping right in the river. Summer time and early fall seem to be the best times to go. 3-5 weight  8-9 foot rods also work well with 7-9 foot leaders and  5x-6x tippet. Your local fly shop can advise the best flies for the time you are there, however, standards such as Wooly Buggers, Elk Hair Caddis, Parachute Adams, and stonefly nymphs can catch trout. It is recommended that you practice your roll casting prior to hitting the river as some stretches are narrow with lots of brush to hang a line on. 

                                                                         Big Thompson Brookie

One advantage to using a guide and outfitting service, in addition to the local knowledge which can save much frustration on the water, is not having to pack waders and a rod in your suitcase when traveling.
Most guides have extra rigs and are happy to accommodate, although they will charge you for flies used on the water. Lodging for fishing Rocky Mountain can be found close to the park or camping in the park and we chose a cabin in Estes Park to be our home base. Estes is only an hour and a half drive from Denver, Colorado so all you have to do is fly there from anywhere in the nation, rent an SUV and head in the mountains for some fishing action.

In addition to fishing, there are many hotspots in the region to check out if you decide to break from days fishing. In addition to exploring the park, the Cache de Poudre river is only about an hour or so away near the town of Fort Collins if you are in search of some white water river rafting action. We booked a trip with A-1 Wildwater one of the days on our trip and found them to be a decent outfit. After rafting, the New Castle Brewery in Fort Collins is a must stop for quality beers and relaxation. The bar area can be packed, but come ready to enjoy a fabulous beer tasting and tour the facility. In my mind, the Rocky Mountain experience in search of trout is one of my favorites and haunts my fishing memories. No wonder, I keep going back.

Thanks Andy, great write up! It certainly makes me want to get back to Colorado to enjoy the Rockies. Here is more about Andy  in his own words.

                                                              Andy (Left) and his friend Dave

My first fly rodding outfit was a South Bend Trophy Tamer Rod and Martin Reel that my mother purchased for me at an Academy store that no longer resides on Burnet Road in Austin, TX. My first flies came from the Austin Angler and from an Orvis store that was located out at the Arboretum, but both fly shops have since closed down, I guess, after the fly fishing craze from the movie “A  River Runs Through It” died down in the early 2000s and most city dwellers got caught up in the latest new hobby. The first fish I caught were sunfish down at Bull Creek, when there was enough water to hold fish. I then graduated to the Blanco, Frio, Guadalupe, Colorado and San Gabriel Rivers and bigger fish. I had an old copy of Bud Priddy’s “Fly Fishing the Texas Hill Country” which I still have and a copy of the Roads of Texas which were considered the premiere guides of the time. My best high school friend, who taught me how to fish at a school retreat on the Frio River, and I would take off, first in my pre-owned black Volvo that my parents had me driving and later in my buddies tan Chevrolet 4x4 pick-up truck that could hold all our gear and could transport a canoe and kayaks. The old days are fun to think about. I don’t even have the Trophy Tamer or Martin Reel anymore. I eventually upgraded to Sage Rods and Cabelas reels. Fishing trips do get fancier and to further away places in search of rainbow trout.

Bucket List: Panama

Sunday, October 14, 2012

For today's bucket lister, we are heading to the central American coast. Panama has been a sport fishing paradise for quite some time. With over 250 International Game Fish Association world records broken, Tropic Star Lodge in Pinas Bay stands as the poster boy of all that Panamanian fishing has to offer. This has been a dream trip of mine for quite some time as it has all of the attributes of a great fishing adventure; foreign travel and culture, untamed landscape, and world class fishing. 

A typical itinerary for this trip would be to fly into Panama City and stay a night to sample the local flavor. The following day, take a short, fifty minute flight to Pinas Bay and then hop on a panga for a short boat trip to the lodge. From then on, it is fishing, kayaking, swimming, beach-strolling and exploring jungle rivers until you have to head back home.

Monster Black Marlin
Panamanian Sailfish all lit up

Tropic Star can be a great trip for the whole family. A wonderful initiative they offer to help introduce the outdoors to the next generation is the kids club event. Every June through August, this event allows any kid under 16 to fish for free with a paying adult. 

If I make it to Tropic Star, my focus will be on offshore action including the blue and black marlin, mahi mahi, sailfish and tuna. You can bet I won't miss the incredible inshore fishing as well though, which includes huge rooster fish, snapper, grouper and amberjack to name a few.

Fishing isn't the only thing Tropic Star offers, take a hike to a mountain waterfall or head over to White Beach.

Offshore fishing is something I really enjoy doing but do not get to do that often. It doesn't get a whole lot better than Panama when it comes to offshore action and I would love to make it down there some day.


Saturday, October 6, 2012

October, what a great month! Cooler weather is back, you've got the Texas/OU game next weekend, Oktoberfest beers, big reds tailing down at the coast, so many fun things going on. It's also time for Oktoberfisch, the annual fly fishing festival hosted by The Fredericksburg Fly Fishers. This 9th edition of the annual festival is set for the weekend of October 19th-21st out at Morgan Shady Park along the banks of the South Llano River in Junction. I have never been to this event but have heard it's a blast, and what a good way to meet fellow central Texas fly fisherman. With plenty of activities planned including casting clinics, vendor booths, and of course fishing, this promises to be a really fun weekend. For more information, log on to the FFF website:

Sportsman's Finest Speaker Series

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Looks like the 2012/2013 speaker series at Sportsman's Finest ( is starting early this year. Next Thursday, October 4th, the owners of Patagonia River Guides, will be in shop to talk about their outfit and the wonderful fly-fishing/bird hunting/food & wine paradise that is Argentine Patagonia. It sounds like a pretty awesome night with happy hour at 6, and the presentation getting underway at 7. Attendees will be able to register for door prizes galore, including a trip with Patagonia River Guides.

If you have never made it over to one of these speaker series events, do yourself a favor and check it out. Sportsman's Finest does a fantastic job of hosting some incredible speakers throughout the fishing industry. Not only are they a fun way to meet other central Texas anglers, but they are very informative.

Hello Fall!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

How great has the weather in Austin been lately? Cool mornings followed by mild afternoons, this has been one of the nicer September's in the last few years. Add to that the replenishing rains we had a week or so ago and there are a lot of great reasons to get outside and enjoy the natural side of our great city. 

I was able to do just that for a couple hours this weekend. Penny and I went over to the section of Bull Creek just west of 360 between Lakewood and Spicewood, we were excited to find river levels looking pretty good. I brought the five wt along and switched off stripping wooly boogers through the deeper holes and working poppers along the bank. 
                                                             Beautiful Colors!

There were a number of one to two pound bass exploring the revitalized creek and I spent most of my time chasing them. Plenty of sunfish were eager to take as well though which always makes for a fun time. A little size 10 frog color popper was the most effective pattern on the day. Strikes generally came shortly after landing the bug on the water, or within one or two strips.

Hopefully this beautiful weather continues and everyone is able to get outdoors and enjoy it in some way. Here's to the start of fall!!!

New Zealand

Sunday, September 16, 2012

For many fly fisherman, New Zealand is at the top of the list of places to fish before they die. This is for good reason as New Zealand is home to some of the biggest brown trout and most pristine rivers on earth. Liz and I were lucky enough to visit New Zealand this past winter (summer for them) and it definitely lived up to the hype. We had been planning this trip for two years and our adventure took us over to Australia as well. We were out to see and experience as much as possible in both countries so it was not designed as a fishing trip. But there was no possible way I was going to New Zealand and not fishing. 

Our time in New Zealand was spent on the south island in Queenstown. Queenstown is a fantastic adventure hub that is home to great skiing/boarding in the winter and about every outdoor activity you could imagine in the summer (fishing, jet-boating, river rafting, sky diving….). The scenery in Queenstown is exactly what you would expect New Zealand to look like. Much of The Lord of the Rings was filmed near the area so that should help paint the mental picture.

Lake Wakatipu
When I started researching guides in the area, there were so many great recommendations to choose from. I kept coming back to one guide though, Chris Dore ( I am so happy we were able to fish with Chris as he is one of the best guides I have ever fished with. He is incredibly patient and a Federation of Fly Fishers Certified Casting Instructor. I learned many things from Chris during our day on the water and he was instrumental in continuing to help Liz get her form down.

Chris picked us up at our hotel in Queenstown and we headed west towards a little town called Glenorchy. We fished a river pretty close to Glenorchy that was something off of a post card. Many of the rivers in New Zealand are glacial fed which gives them such a gin clear color. Fishing such an amazingly clear river certainly comes with its share of challenges though.


I knew going into our trip that fishing in New Zealand was very different than what we are used to here in the states. You may only get a few chances at fish during the day but those fish could very well be the fish of a lifetime. The challenge of spotting and stalking each fish and trying to make that perfect cast as not to spook the fish was a different concept for me. I quickly learned that it is a very exhilarating concept as well.
As we worked our way up the river, we tried a variety of patterns, both dry and nymph. Chris would spot a fish and we would do our best to scare the crap out of it. Liz and I would switch off working different sections and I had so much fun watching her really get her cast down. As we came up to a section of the river Chris called the aquarium, I really started to get excited. He said it was a big fish holding area and he was not kidding around. Chris slowly snuck his way along the side of the hill and then waved us forward. He pointed to the middle of the river below to a huge brown that was pushing nine pounds, man did my heart race. I had never seen a bigger trout. 

Our plan was for Chris and Liz to stay on the hill and spot as I moved back down the hill and access the river. I did so slowly and once I got back in, carefully started to wade back up towards the fish. Luckily, there was a giant boulder that split the river into two sections that gave me some cover. The fish was directly in front of the boulder and I made my way up the left side. As I got closer and closer to a position of being able to cast, the more excited I became. What a fish this was!

The big bruiser (top right of picture) moving into shallow water above the boulder
Finally, I moved far enough up to where I could see the drift and the very front of the fish. I had enough line out and was ready to go. I lifted my rod to make the cast and all of my feelings of excitement quickly turned to heartbreak. The fish must have seen the movement as he darted off up the river. That was a tough pill to swallow.

The rest of the day we continued to wind our way up the river. The natural beauty of the river, the surrounding forest and the waterfalls were an experience in themselves. We had multiple chances at other fish and finally did get a nice rainbow to the net. Holding that fish with Liz, even though it wasn't the monster brown, was very satisfying.




We had a fantastic day fishing with Chris, he truly made it a memorable experience. I can see how the challenge of fishing in New Zealand can be addicting and I really hope to make it back there some day. If you are ever in Queenstown and want to get on the water, give Chris a call, you won't regret it.