Chronicles of Man Armed with Rods, Reels, and a Camera

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Changes Are Coming

To the loyal readers of this blog:

It’s been a long time since I made a post and the reason is not due to a lack of content. I’ve been on a hiatus as of late because I’ve been busy. I’ve been busy fishing. I’ve been busy traveling. I’ve been busy working on getting a new venture off the ground. If you didn’t already notice the new header (see above) I have decided to chase a dream (more on this in a later post) and become a self-employed fishing guide.

I have been on the road a lot over the last four months. The odometer on my truck has racked up more miles than most frequent flyers. I’ve fished destination as far west as South Padre Island, TX and as far east as the Florida Keys. There’s plenty of great content coming down the pipe. For those of you that follow my blog, thanks for being patient.

Good things come to those who wait.

For now, I’ll leave you with an image I took in the marsh a few days ago while chasing a big school of redfish down with my skiff…
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Long Strip

I spent a week fishing Andros Island, Bahamas with a group of friends…kaliks, bonefish and the shenanigans that ensued.

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Over the weekend my buddy Jason and I went exploring. We fished an area neither of us had fished before. It didn’t take long for us to find fish. Jason caught the first redfish within minutes of when we started fishing. From that point forward the fishing was stupid. We saw fish everywhere and they were hard to miss. They stood out like a sore thump in the clear water because of their orange hue. Great day on the water.

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A Date with the Devils

I often wonder what it would have been like to be born before the advent of modern civilization. A time before pollution, homes, shopping centers and high-rises swallowed our unobstructed view of the natural landscape around us. Back when the only lights to illuminate the sky were the sun, moon and stars.

The Devils River on a small-scale represents those days. It’s one of the few places that has held its indigenous roots due, in part, to its remote locale and callous terrain. The River has largely remained unchanged since the days the Native Americans roamed its banks. I’ve dreamed of paddling and fishing the crystalline waters of the Devils River ever since the first time I came across photographs showcasing the river’s beauty many years ago.

As with any trip of this magnitude getting a dedicated group of people willing and able to make the trip is not an easy task. A float down the Devils River is a far cry from a leisure stroll down your favorite stream. As the name implies, the river is isolated and unforgiving. The river is a test of vigilance and resilience for even the most seasoned paddlers and campers. The feeble need not apply.

We had a solid group of five proficient paddlers planning on making the trip. Leading up to the trip work obligations began to whittle down our group one by one. A week before the trip our group was down to two people. I began to wonder if I would have to make the voyage down the river alone. Thankfully Brian assured me I would not have to make the trek solo.

Brian and I arrived in Del Rio, Texas the night before our adventure. We booked a night at Who Cares Bed and Breakfast run by Marlene Walker (who also provided us with our shuttle to the river). Who Cares is cozy ranch-style home complete with a flock of wild roosters, not all of which take too kindly to strangers, especially one rather intrepid fowl.

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After small talk and a few cold beers with a few guests, who were also putting in the next morning, we went to bed. Marlene had breakfast ready before the first sport woke. Our last meal consisted of some sort of breakfast casserole, biscuits and gravy all washed down with a glass of orange juice. The food was appetizing and filling.

We finished breakfast and then loaded the rest of our gear into the ramshackle van that would shuttle us to our destination. The van spoke a familiar language to anyone who has ever owned a vehicle past its prime. It spoke a language of squeaks and whines. Considering the topography, I’d expect nothing less decrepit.

Marlene strapping down our kayaks for shuttle down to the river…
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After an hour drive down jarring, unpaved ranch roads we reached the shores of the river. The river was clean, clear, and deeply rooted among the natural flora and stony canyon walls that towered above. The limestone crags were a skyscraper worthy of my admiration.

We had four days to traverse 32 miles. From the start, I pledged to savor every mile, one paddle stroke at a time.

Our starting point the Devils River State Natural Area – San Pedro Point…
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A short distance from the launch we reached the largest continuously flowing waterfall in Texas. Dolan Falls one of the most visually stunning places I’ve had the pleasure to visit…
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Brian with a Dolan Falls Smallmouth Bass…
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Brian with a nice Devils River bass…
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Soaking up the heat…
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Camp food…
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Underwater bluffs carved out of limestone…
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There were numerous schools of carp that wanted nothing to do with our flies…
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Perspective…
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Brian portaging one of the many rapids we encountered on our trip…
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Reed labyrinth…
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Camp after Day 1…
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More fine camp cuisine…
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Lots of dragging due to low water levels. We had to drag off and on for about 10 miles of our float.
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My first Smallmouth Bass…
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Another nice Smallie…
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Water Snake. It was released unharmed after a few photos.
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A herd of Aoudads climbing up a steep cliff…
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Sunrise over the hills after Day 2…
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Goats…
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Spooked deer after a morning drink…
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We cleaned up several garbage bags worth of beer cans and bottles on the lower stretches of the river near where it empties into Lake Amistad. We were later told by Gerald Bailey, river guide and outfitter, that we picked up the most trash by any of his clients since he’s been guiding on the Devils River.
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Arid country…
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Straight from the source: springs sprouting out of the limestone floor…
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Lake Amistad is currently at record low levels. The lake was 63′ below normal lake level when we were there…
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We rescued a goat/sheep? from a certain death in a dried up creek bed…
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Last morning of out trip…
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We finished out the trip catching lots of small largemouth bass on Lake Amistad…
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The finish line: Rough Canyon Marina…
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Photo of the Week: Fireworks

A few shots from a fireworks display over Salt Lake in Rockport, Texas last Saturday evening.

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Jumping Poon Sequence

We went searching for tarpon again last week. The conditions were not as good as last time, but we found a decent amount of rollers. Brandon managed to stick a hook in one fish’s mouth. The fish jumped several times during the fight. We leadered the fish on a few occasions, but the fish managed to pull loose boat-side before we could land it.

I managed to capture one of the aerial displays from start to finish.
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The season is still young. I can’t wait for more.

No Place Like Home

I’ve logged so many hours behind the wheel as of late I’m starting to feel like a truck driver. In the past two months I’ve fished from South Texas to South Florida. Irrespective of where I travel though, I still cherish the time I spend on my home waters around the Upper Texas Coast. The marshes around here are special (see photo below). The fish are gluttons and plentiful.

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A couple months my buddy, Mickey, drove down from Central Texas to spend a weekend fishing the Upper Coast with me on my skiff. Redfish had just started to return to the marshes from the winter. Despite high water levels the fishing was good. Mickey landed several quality fish.

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From time to time I’ve even had the opportunity to get in on the action.

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Last month Mickey returned to the muddy marshes of the Texas Coast. This time he was accompanied by Brandon and Grant. The fishing was slow. We still had a good time hanging out, and we managed to catch a few fish.

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Fresh redfish, dirty rice and boudin…
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I was also recently able to convince my little brother, who was home for college, to spend a day on the water aboard my skiff. It was the first time he had fished since he was a little boy. I gave him a quick lesson on how to cast a spinning rod. He was a quick learner; he was making far accurate casts in no time. The conditions (high winds and bull tides) were tough, but we found some redfish schooled up underneath birds. He landed his first, second and third redfish.

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The last time I got out around home was Memorial Day weekend. I typically don’t like to fish holiday weekends, but I promised a friend, Raymond, I’d take him fishing. He invited one of his long-time friends, Mando, to join.

Mando had never had the skinny water experience of fishing the marsh. The first spot we fished we came across a big school of redfish. He caught one slot-sized fish out of the school before they dispersed. The fishing slowed significantly after that. We had a tough time finding fish, so I moved to another spot.

The next spot was loaded with big reds. Mando and Raymond hooked several fish and even had a double. We manage to salvage an otherwise slow day on the water.

We fished two different spots on one of the busiest days of the year and aside from the boat ramp we only saw one boat fishing the same area as us all day long

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Home is where the heart is at…
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