Irma was a little under the weather, but she's a trooper and headed out with me to our annual trek to the scenic Texas hill country near the South Llano River. This year we towed our new travel trailer a total round trip of 766 miles between San Benito to Junction.
We stayed up late and started out early. So to stay alert we stopped in Raymondville and purchased drinks and sunflower seeds--an old truck driver's trick. There really wasn't a whole lot of traffic to contend with, but what we did encounter an accident between Corpus Christi and George West where we lost about twenty minutes.
We made plans to stop at Van's Barbeque near Oakville and then head a little further and gas up after a good lunch. From experience we've figured that you can't eat a whole lot when driving, so we each ordered senior plates...we are seniors after all!
The brisquet and sausage are the primary reason we stop. We even offered to wash dishes, but the paper they use wouldn't have held up to the soap scrub. This year the beans were a little dry, so I added Van's barbeque sauce to liven them up. It did and we washed it all down with what comes close to homemade iced tea.
After gasing up the jeep, we drove through San Antonio and began to notice that the hill country has some pretty steep grades. Here's where the overdrive kills gas mileage. I figured the gas mileage at that point was about ten miles per gallon. Fortunately, that's only for a little over one hundred miles. The rock formations make the trip and expense worth it. One can only imagine how much history the hillsides have seen.
Fredericksburg, Boerne, Comfort, and Kerville are inhabitated by wonderful and friendly people, some of whom I've got to know well during the four years that we have been coming to Oktoberfisch. One of these folks is Dr. Guy Harrison who we think about allot. He is a great conservationist and loved to give back to the Guadalupe bass fishery. We were told that his health is still keeping him from joining the gang along the river's edge. Maybe one of these days he'll be able to join us again at the fly tying table. Gene Smith is one of the organizers and greats us with a friendly smile. The Fredericksburg Fly Fishers have put on the event for about ten years. The club of nearly eighty members just became an International Federation of Fly Fishers charter club. This group really knows how to put on a great event.
If you could find a venue with beautiful scenery, wonderful people, and a commitment to fly fishing it would be Oktoberfisch. This year Irma and I attended several great activities. Many of those helping out come from all over the state. The Texas Council, headed by Russell Husted supports the many activities. This year the Texas Council donated money to cover the printing of the booklets. Money is one thing, but people is what really works. Jerry Hammonds whose love of kayaking and teaching kayaking gives his all. I can vouch for that because when we left he was pretty much exhausted, but from my part appreciated.
Jim Bass,Ted Warren, and other certified casting instructors from around the state led the fly casting instruction. Irma attended the beginning casting classes. Of course, there were other classes for more advanced casters. These included accuracy and double haul classes. I think that there was even a two-handed rod class. Ted worked with Irma one on one. He did a great job because she was pretty good when we went out on the water.
Of course, I came to learn new fly tying techniques and flies. My first two flies I received were from the suprise of opening the Oktoberfisch goodie bag during registration. The bags contained information such as a map of the South Llano River, suggested South Llano River fliy patterns, and discount coupons for local and nearby establishments.
I was going to help out with the fly tying, but the schedule wasn't available to know when I was to go on. My plan was to tie the Macko fly. Regardless, I spent my time learning to tie several patterns. I used some cool tools from Sleezy Steve's Fly Shop that were used to shape foam bug patterns. In a few weeks I'll post something about that. For now I've included a photograph of the "Swamp Monster". This looks like a great pattern for panfish and Guadalupe bass.
Breakfast tacos and coffee were the ticket on a cool morning. Later on at lunch the sausage and brisket plates were worth the six dollars. One of the highlights of the trip is the great barbeque with a great country band to add to the atmosphere. Unfortunately, the cost of beef had the organizers change the menu from ribeye to pork chops this eyar. Let me tell you that it wasn't a loss at all. Although I love the way the Kimball County folks barbeque ribeye, they did an awesome job with the pork chops. The fixings and sides were awesome. You all have to try the fried jalapeno!
Next year we'll make the trip again. But, the venue may change from the Morgan Shady RV Park to another park. Irma and I visited the site and it looks promising. In fact it is still surrounded by trees and has direct access to the river. For those who don't camp, there seem to be some nice shelters and small lodges. The plan, I heard, was to have 50 RV sites. Hope you can make it next year.
Popcorn and fly fishing porn was provided for those who can't get enough of seeing fish and fly fishers.
I guess I'm addicted.
Jungle adventures one of the films I watched Saturday evening was a pretty spectacular film. It described the hunt for the arapaima, one of the largest freshwater fish and now a fly fishing target.
The other films included the science behind fly fishing with mouse patterns. It described how changes in the forest affect food sources for aquatic species.
Vendors from around the state and hill country were on hand to provide information. Wounded Warriors, IFFF Texas Council, Hill Country Fly Shop, Living Waters Fly Shop, and Texas Parks and Wildlife were on hand to provide fly gear and help answer everyone's fly fishing questions.
This is a face that only Irma would want to photograph. Well it does look cute. These guys were very curious and loved to have their pictures taken.
We couldn't pass them up. Irma took plenty pictures of these guys. Hopefully, we'll see them around somewhere next year.
The deer have always been a highlight of the trip. Irma took these photographs of two young bucks testing out their strength on each other.
There were does and their fawns in the fields and trees. One of the main food sources are pecans which grow tall. There were plenty of them on the ground throughout the camp ground.
This is probably a two or three year old buck. It's going to be a stately deer some day. It's handsome now.
What was, great about Oktoberfisch is that you always had an opportunity to get on the water. Shuttles and rentals were made available.
Unfortunately, we didn't take our kayaks this year. There were some great activities including kayak races. Julia Thompson Bell was the champ with Cody and Jerry right behind them. Way to go Julia! Make them pay!