FAF=Fresh Air & Flyfishing. Earlier in the week, Tuesday, I was restless and felt the need for a little FAF. After checking with Judy and the weather report, I decided to head up to the Texas Hill Country—I needed some water around my legs. I checked with a few of my fishing buddies but they either weren’t available or interested. So I decided to head up solo. Tuesday afternoon I packed equipment and supplies, and made a camp site reservation at Cedar Breaks campground on Georgetown Lake. I figured that would give me good access to Brushy Creek and the South San Gabriel. Wednesday morning I headed out, in time to get to Living Waters fly shop in Round Rock by noon and visit with Chris Johnson, the owner, and get the scoop on the fishing in the area. He shared a wealth of knowledge…more than I could absorb.
After setting up camp, I drove over to San Gabriel Park in Georgetown and planned on fishing there. But after checking it out, I really didn’t like the look of the water. So, instead I headed down to Brushy Creek. I figured I had enough time for a couple hours of fishing before I would join a group of fly tiers at Rudy’s BBQ for dinner before their Wednesday fly tying meeting at Living Waters fly shop. It really felt good to get into the water and feel the coolness around my legs. I picked out a spot that looked like it might be productive. I waded out and just stood there awhile as I waited for any fish I had disturbed to settle down. I had my eye or a bubble line that held promise. While waiting I rigged up my fly rod with a Yellow Foam Spider on the top and Rio Bandito dropper. I began catching fish after fish…all sunfish, mostly on the dropper. I was enjoying myself so much that when I looked at my phone to check the time, I had missed the dinner with the guys at Rudy’s. Oh well, the fishing was worth it. But I did leave in time to grab a quick burger and make it to the fly tying session. It was nice to meet a few guys and talk fly tying. Jim Grey was there tying his Llanolope fly. I left after 8:00 and got back to camp in time to enjoy a some time relaxing in my gravity chair before heading to bed.
I started Thursday early. At daybreak I headed over to a cove on the lake (Chris had told me about it) and fished top water for bass for awhile. I had a tied up a top water game changer fly and wanted to see how it performed. Well…the fly did well, but the fish didn’t cooperate. After awhile I headed back to camp for coffee and breakfast. Then, I was off to the Sports Complex on Brushy Creek. Seeing Jim tie his Llanolope fly had inspired me. So I tied on one of those as a hopper and stayed with the Rio Bandito as a dropper. As I was going to be fishing in a stretch of the river with tight cover, I decided to use a 6’ 3wt rod that I had recently built. The weather cooperated—the temperature was pleasant, low humidity, and overcast skies. I’d guess I caught around 40 that morning (mostly on the small size), including two very small bass. Upon leaving I picked up a bag of trash….I just don’t understand why people litter the outdoors. But I often try to do my part and pick up trash.
For lunch, I found a picnic table in some Cedar trees at Champion Park. My standard lunch when out fishing like this is a turkey and cheese wrap, sour cream and onion Pringles, cold apple slices, a few pieces of beef jerky, and a sport drink. Sometime I’ll have a cookie or two to finish it off, but not today.
A pleasant surprise on this trip was all the wildflowers. I really had not expected that. As we say in South Louisiana, lagniappe. There were wildflowers everywhere. I think that the Spring rains brought them out. Earlier in the year it had been bluebonnets. But now it was Indian Blankets, and several other varieties. I found myself rounding a curve or topping a hill and just saying, “Wow!” The trip would have been worth it just to see the hillsides carpeted with wildflowers. They really put on a show! I remember Mary Oliver writing about her dog’s love of wildflowers.
I had a dog who loved flowers. Briskly she went through the fields, yet paused for the honeysuckle or the rose, her dark head and her wet nose touching the face of every one with its petals of silk with its fragrance rising into the air where the bees, their bodies heavy with pollen hovered – and easily she adored every blossom not in the serious careful way that we choose this blossom or that blossom the way we praise or don’t praise – the way we love or don’t love – but the way we long to be – that happy in the heaven of earth – that wild, that loving.
I too love flowers—especially the wildflowers of Texas! So much so, that last fall I planted a small bed of them in our back yard. We are enjoying them immensely.
For the afternoon, I decided to fish a stretch off Hairy Man Road. The spot where I usually park was so overgrown that it was barely visible. The trail I had previously taken to the creek was no more. So I had to bushwhack my way in. The good news, I was thinking…“No one has fished here recently.” I fished up stream and caught a few fish every once in awhile. Then….I cast to a cut under the bank, and a couple of fish almost fought over my fly. I ended up standing in that one spot casting up and down that bank for probably an hour. I’d guess I caught 40 fish in that hole alone. And there were some nice sized ones for a small creek. I caught one small Rio Grande Cichlid, but she had a big heart and put on quite a fight—I enjoyed our visit. The fish must have been bedding up—they hit hard, they were ferocious fighters, and they were fat. Most of them were in the 5 to 7 inch range….good-sized for a small creek. About 30% hit the Llanolope.
I ended up catching around 100 fish Thursday—to say the least, my 6’ 3wt rod got christened well.
Friday morning I woke early, had my coffee and breakfast, and packed up camp. I had decided to fish on the South Fork of the San Gabriel until about noon. Then I wanted to stop by for another quick visit with Chris at Living Waters before heading home—to give a report and purchase a few supplies to support the shop. I entered the water with high expectations. The Llanolope (though it only had one eye left) and Rio Getter had served me well the day before, so I stayed with them. For the first couple of hours I waded upstream and picked up a few fish (all small) here and there. The water was mostly just two shallow. Later in the morning I turned around and headed back down stream. I spotted an overhanging tree that I had not fished earlier. When going upstream I had focused on a big rock on the other side of the creek—and I had picked up a few there. My first cast under the tree resulted in a nice sunfish. I ended up fishing under that tree and downstream to another tree for about an hour and caught 30+ fish there—I had found another hole of bedding fish. Again, they were nice-sized sunfish for a small creek.
About noon, though the fish were still biting, I decided to head home.
It was a good FAF trip. My body was tried, but I felt renewed in my spirit.
“When you go fishing, you’re going to get so much more. You’re going to experience wildlife, whether you meant to or not.”
Jeff Miller, L.L. Bean gear developer
Paul E. Robertson
Ph.D., M.Div., ACPE Certified Educator
“Retired from work, but not from life.”
One thought on “Report: FAF, May 3-5, 2023, Paul E. Robertson”
Great report, Paul, I really enjoyed reading it. In many ways, it made me feel as though I had come along on the trip.