REPORT: Guadalupe River trip, 2023-01, Paul E. Robertson

I went for a long walk this morning, Friday. Though I was walking along a sidewalk in our neighborhood, in my mind I was remembering Tuesday and Wednesday—days I spend on the Guadalupe River. I replayed the sights, sounds, smells, and feelings. I found myself smiling and at peace within.

Back to the river. On Tuesday morning my friend Joe Nicklo and I headed out for the Guadalupe River about 5:00 in the morning. We made our customary stop at Buc-ee’s for a coffee refill, breakfast and a pit stop. For those not from Texas, Buc-ee’s is known for having the cleanest restrooms in Texas. We arrived at the river a little around 8:00 and began to put on waders, boots, and get rods and gear ready. I was anxious to just get my feet in the water. We headed toward the water. But before stepping in, we did the mandatory stop and observe. We could see one trout in the pool in front of us. He was in a difficult place to cast. We thought about crossing below and trying a cast. But, as soon as we moved, he spooked and took off.  That would be an omen of my “catch rate” for the two days. As some say, that’s why that call it fishing and not catching. We had some great fishing but the catch rate was low.  I ended up with three fish in the two days and Joe ended up with about ten.

But, the fishing was great. I had planned a three-day trip to the Guadalupe back in December but had to cancel due to an episode with Covid. Then came the holidays. I had been looking for the first opportunity to go, which was this last Tuesday and Wednesday.

I can’t express how joyful I felt when we rounded the curve on the road and I got my first glimpse of the river. It was like I had arrived “home.” There is someone about wading in the river that brings upon me a sense of calm and peace. To be sure, I like to catch fish. But, even in those times when I don’t catch many (like this trip), there is still the experience of being on the river. There is so much to take in. During those two days I really did not think about the debacle (my opinion) in the House of Representatives or anything else political. I was focused on taking in my surroundings. I remember the words of John Gierach: “The solution to any problem — work, love, money, whatever — is to go fishing, and the worse the problem, the longer the trip should be.” Being in the water I feel connected to the Mother Earth and its Creator. I feel connected to my self. I feel connected to the fish and other animals around.

I watched squirrels come down to the river side for a sip of water, a blue heron searching for its morning meal, ducks flying low to the water headed down stream, and an occasional large yellowish mayfly. I listened to birds of all types singing as the morning sun rose up over the canyon wall, the water running across the rocks, and animals scurrying along the trees and banks, rocks tumbling down the cliff wall as some animal (I did not see it) walked through the trees, and the occasional sound of that blue heron landing the water behind me with a loud splash (I almost needed a roll of toilet paper.). 

When the fish are not biting, I just enjoy exploring. At one point I noticed a riffle downstream of me. I had not been down that stretch of river. I don’t know just how to explain it, but it was calling me to come and check it out. So, I heeded the call and went. What a beautiful run of the river!  About half way down the run I just stopped and took in the view and the sounds. What I saw is on the video below. My heart sang with joy.  Hey, I can’t sing with my voice, but I can sing with my heart!  

On the the way back one morning, I did come upon a pool with a bunch of fish. The sun was at just the right angle, and through my polarized sunglasses I could see lots of fish. My heart began to beat faster. I studied them for awhile. There were about eight medium-sized fish and three quite large ones. They looked confused. Occasionally one the larger ones would rise to the surface. I watched intently to see what it might be taking, but I couldn’t tell. I tried most everything I knew, but with no luck.  As my partner headed my way, I pointed out the fish to him. I tried some more, with his help spotting them. Again, no luck. Then I decided to spot for him. Dang, if he didn’t catch three of them. Sometimes, that seems to be the story of my catching.  

Nevertheless it was wonderful to be on the water with a friend. 

“They say you forget your troubles on a trout stream, but that’s not quite it.  

What happens is that you begin to see where your troubles fit into the grand

 scheme of things, and suddenly they’re just not such a big deal anymore.” 

—John Gierach

Paul E. Robertson
Ph.D., M.Div., ACPE Certified Educator
“Retired from work, but not from life.”

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