With a nod to upcoming March Madness, what follows is a recap of my February. The exec summary is weddings, Trout Fest, and the Lower Mountain Fork. Fair warning…this should have probably been two or more posts, but given my recent lack of posting, I decided to super-size this one.
First, I took that walk that every daughter’s father dreams of and dreads all at the same time. I had the pleasure and privilege of walking my oldest daughter (but middle child) down the aisle at her wedding. Words fall short, but see my attempt in my last post, For a Daughter Before Her Wedding
The very next weekend was the apex of our volunteer season with GRTU’s annual Trout Fest. Friday through Sunday was a bit of a blur, but a great time nonetheless.
My personal favorite encounter was with one of our visiting celebs, Frank “Running Down the Man” Smethurst. This was Frank’s first trip back to the Guad since filming an episode in season 2 of Trout Unlimited’s “On the Rise” program in 2008.
Frank was at Trout Fest representing Scott Fly Rods, and while here was gracious enough to do a couple of classes on rigging and single hand spey casting.
Honestly I wasn’t sure what to expect of Frank. He is kind of a big deal in the fly fishing world and I thought he might have an ego to match. Turns out I had nothing to worry about. I spent probably two hours with him over the course of the weekend, and found him to be a great ambassador for our sport and for conservation. I saw him spend 30 minutes past his allotted class time with one guest, providing some personal on water instruction. It wasn’t expected or required, but it spoke volumes about Frank’s character and passion. He wasn’t trying to sell a rod; he simply was one fisherman passing along some knowledge to a fellow fish bum.
So I asked for a cheesy fan boy photo. After experiencing how down to earth and approachable he is, I couldn’t resist. By the way, Frank isn’t a one trick pony; he is quite the birder and mushroom hunter as well. Ask him about his recipe for using vermouth to saute’ chantrelles in if you get a chance.
Here are a few more pics of the Trout Fest weekend in no particular order…
Finally the following weekend I headed to Broken Bow, OK for the Mid South Regional TU Meeting. This was my first trip to Broken Bow, Beavers Bend State Park, and the Lower Mountain Fork River. But it won’t be my last. I drove up early Friday, and arrived around lunch time. After a stop at the Three Rivers Fly Shop for a license and some locally popular flies, I headed to Beavers Bend to check in, find my cabin, and get on the river.
By the way, Jesse King, owner of Three Rivers Fly Shop wrote the Lower Mountain Fork Chapter of The Fifty Best Tailwaters to Fly Fish. Unfortunately he was out of the shop so I didn’t get to meet him. Having written the Guadalupe River chapter, I wanted to meet one of the other contributors and compare notes.
The Lower Mountain Fork is a beautiful river, with trout where trout should be. We found fish, my best being a chunky 19 inch hen that ran me downriver quite a distance before she came to the net.
Saturday we were in meetings all day. Several people began to murmur about approaching winter weather, and some chose to exit early to beat the predicted ice storm. Mind you, temps were in the low 60s at the time.
I monitored the situation via Weatherbug through the day Saturday, and all indications were that I could fish Sunday until at least 3 PM before I needed to get on the road and head south to beat the ice.
When my alarm rang Sunday morning at 6AM, the weather advisory had changed to a winter storm warning, which would go into effect at noon. Which, as any fisherman will tell you, meant I could fish until at least 10 or 11. Which is exactly what I did – and it almost was my undoing.
After exiting the river at 10, I went to my cabin to eat lunch and pack up before checking out. I was the only person left in the campground…which is either awesome or terrifying depending on your assessment of your fellow camper’s wisdom.
The next 6 hours on the road were driven mostly in rain, alternating between light showers and thunderstorms complete with wind and hail. I had chosen a return route that was as due south as I could in hopes of staying in above freezing temperatures as much as possible. This strategy mostly worked until I was 2 hours from home when the temps dipped to 28F, and my windshield wipers began to be ineffective due to the ice accumulating on them. I made it home safely, and none too soon. But on Monday all I could think about was going back to the Lower Mountain Fork as soon as possible.