Unexpected Blooms: Fly Fishing The Texas Hill Country

04/20/2021

The nice thing about wade fishing a river is that, in those moments, there is nothing else. Naught but the kiss of the sun, the caress of the breeze, the song of the water. The worst I may face is the errant gust of wind, a fly stuck in the brush from a lazy backcast, or a surprised serpent (always vigilant on that one).

I continue to be amazed at the resilience of the flora in these parts. The ability to grow up and flourish…seemingly with so little support from the earth or sky. The plants here are not typically as lush as back home in the Midwest, but they are hearty and beautiful in their own right. And I love how often I am pleasantly surprised as I encounter unexpected blooms—there seems always to be something blooming in this part of Texas.

Fly fishing here is different as well. The water is often wide, clear, and shallow, so sighting and stalking fish takes a slightly different approach. When I get too close or too clumsy and see the silhouette dart across the bottom, I often feel like those undercover agents on TV who talk into their earpieces to say “mission aborted, I’ve been ‘made.’”I don’t really mind. One of the main reasons I fly fish is to slow down. To hone patience. To court calm. So when I spook my quarry, when I throw a tailing loop and knot the living hell out of my leader, when I backcast into a sticker bush to find a magically and instantly woven web of tangled tippet with a tiny fly in the middle—I simply take a deep breath and set about the task at hand. I walk on, I untie, I untangle…for as long as it takes.

And the likely bonus of a blown opportunity? As I walk or wade along to find the next honey hole, over the rock or around the river bend, I might just stumble upon another unlikely oasis of blooms in the middle of the stones or squeezing out from a crevice in the granite. I’ll admit, I find some parts of our home planet more “homey” than others. I’m so grateful that I have had and continue to have the opportunity to seek and find so many of them.

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