Friday, December 30, 2011


I'm thankful for much this holiday season. Good friends. A wonderful family. Great times together. A good job with great co-workers and boss and a good place to live with mostly decent folks and fairly low crime, being as I originally hail from Houston and grew up with crime. Crime, they say, is my business.

So it's nice to escape crime, in the enclave of your own home and family. Of course, we went to the folks house for Christmas, and although I've never had a bad Christmas, this one was so relaxing that it stands out.

A firefighter friend of mine, still dealing with the remains of the huge fire that terrorized and pretty much destroyed a quarter of our community this year, can't seem to relax, and I've been there. He was commenting that just sitting around was eating him up, about he was ready for the holidays to be over NOW.

I can't agree. We're having a great holiday, particularly this week, and I wish it would last a couple of more weeks up until MLK day.

I'm thankful for visitors like Helene and Zach who actually read my blather and comment. Helene probably doesn't live too far away and apparently engages in many of the same activities I do, like a little hog hunting. She posted recently that her granddaughter supplied their Thanksgiving and Christmas ham, and let me tell you, if you get the right size (smaller) hog, it is tastier than any ham or bacon you've ever had.

Hunting for food is a way of life for folks I know. We may not do it out of necessity and as regularly as my grandparents did in East Texas, but it's a good skill to have and frankly, I think it's embedded in our DNA. For me, same with fishing also, and I mean all kinds of fishing: rod and reel sport fishing, cane pole fishing, seining, trot line fishing, jug fishing and so on. I've never done any "hand grabbing" of catfish or any of that nonsense.

One resolution I have is to do more fishing camps this year. I have several friends with nice places on the Colorado, one of the few rivers (other than the Brazos) in Texas that have much water in them. I like getting some friends together, taking a few campers and some cooking gear and setting up a fishing camp for an extended weekend. Usually there's at least a jonboat along for the trotlining. Once the grills start grilling and the food starts cooking, it's a several day feast. This year, my friend Neal suggested we go hog hunting the weekend before the fishing camp and get a couple of hogs. The idea is to have one processed for grilling and then to have the other one frozen for later use in a Hawaiian Luau style cooking pit, just for the helluva it.

As Helene notes in her comment on the previous thread, it is being predicted by some pretty knowledgeable folks, particularly at Texas A&M, that our drought will likely continue despite our current rainy conditions and could continue not only for months but for as long as ten years. That's very scary to us in  Texas. Some smaller communities are still on the brink of running out of water, and many have not recovered and are teetering on the brink of outage as I write this. Where I live is in good shape water wise but not to fer west of us they've still got water shortage issues.

Our current rain is not enough to recharge aquifers, lakes, streams and such. We basically need it to rain for the next year or so on a daily basis.

We're infested with hogs in Texas. There are many different species I refer to here collectively as hogs, but in the Central Texas/Hill Country areas where I live and roam, I know more than one landowner who has sustained major financial loss to crops and livestock from marauding hordes of wild hogs.

Coyotes are also quite a problem as well, and are much harder to eradicate. Several of my friends who raise goats or sheep or cattle have invested in night vision scopes, expensive ones, because that's about the only way you can get a coyote.

But as always, I digress. There's a lot to be thankful for in my world, and I thank you for reading my musings.

Friday, December 23, 2011


A Merry Christmas to all who land here, and Happy Holidays for all!

I heard from fellow blogger and my friend Zach today, and it inspired me to at least throw a few words out there. It's been an interesting year, with the last 3 months being especially stressful and busy. Strangely, the past 90 days have just flown by, as has the past year.

We've been getting rain in our part of Texas lately, and finally. After the months long drought and heat wave Texas underwent this summer, it's a weird weather warp around here right now. The San Augustine and Bermuda grasses in my yard think it is spring, as do the weeds. Roses in the front garden have been blooming, and many of the trees that would normally be leafless are now where they should have been at the end of the summer. The beech tree in the front is just now, four days from Christmas, throwing out pollen balls or whatever they are, that usually fall from the tree in mid-summer.

I've been through many droughts in Texas over my life, but none as severe and as long lasting as the one this year. I read today in the paper where Texas lost an estimated 500 million trees. Yes, you read that right. 500 Million, or roughly 10% of the trees in the state. My old friend Billy Ray has been making many family visiting trips out to West Texas this year, and has been foretelling of the large number of dead and dying trees he's seen making that journey from the Hill Country. Billy Ray is an old Texas road dog, and has racked up a lot of miles over the years, and he knows the topography of the state well.

On my rear porch, today I saw a new family of birds moving into a gourd birdhouse El Fisho Jr made some years ago. Thing is, usually birds only move in that house in the spring. Well, the new bird family is moving in nesting material and by all appearances is setting up a springtime nest. I'll keep you posted if chicks appear.

The Guest Rooster still lives across the street, and now has a passle of young 'uns that he leads around the area. It's hilarious, like Foghorn Leghorn he's got three small baby roosters following him like robots, roaming the area. He comes by the front fenceline every few days just to annoy my dogs and let them know he's still around, teaching his offspring how to annoy my dogs.

Texas Rainbow Trout stocking season is upon us, and I am going to do some emailing to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and see which lakes and creeks are actually being stocked. Despite the budgetary crisis thrust upon our TPWD by our inept legislators, they've managed to hobble together the trout stocking program yet another year.

For many Texans, it's the only opportunity they'll have to fish for Rainbows. Ever. And of course, they are a culinary delight, and having been raised by the TPWD, are probably as safe to eat as any fish caught in the wild, even though the trout are hachery bred and raised.

I've been fishing for Rainbows all over the state, since I was a kid. My dad was also excited by the stocking program, and it was he who would schedule family vacations during spring break so we could go catch trout in the Guadalupe and in those colder western and northern stocking places in the state where trout were still lingering in early March.

So I've been doing the Rainbow fishing thing every year since then. Somewhere. Somehow, I manage to get to a lake for the trout fishing. I've been remiss the past few year in taking Rainbow Trout roadtrips, and need to make the time for them. El Fisho Jr. mentioned the other day how we had not talked about Rainbow fishing yet when we were dining with his Godfather Billy Ray.

Billy Ray was raised in Houston and like me, had a dad who enjoyed fishing for Rainbows and who took his family in quest of them. Time after time, when I go fishing for the Rainbows at various locations, I meet other folks who've been doing it as long as I have. Like a family tradition in Texas, not unlike the white bass runs of springtime or the crappie and largemouth bass breeding seasons.

But again, back to reality and the fact that many of the locations that are on the current stocking list are probably devoid of enough water to support any healthy fish population. The temperatures couldn't be better, for the stocked trout get that (what I suspect is) genetic friskiness when it gets cold, and that of course leads to more eating and better fishing. It's in the mid-40's at my house right now and would be perfect, except my local stocking location which is due to be stocked soon has about 1/4 of the usual capacity.

I suspect it's the same story for many other places in Texas where the trout are usually stocked. Since Christmas is smack dab in the middle of the normal trout stocking season, I often equate the time off on the holidays with a little trout fishing.

So I'll get in touch with the powers that be and see how the stocking program has been going, and hopefully will muster the effort to post all of that here. I've driven hundreds of miles to fish for these rascals in years gone by, and I'm not above driving hours to a good location.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


When I graduated from law school so many years ago, I trucked myself over to the Orvis store and bought myself the graduation gift of a long-awaited Orvis fishing outfit. Because I was planning to do some traveling looking for a job after taking the bar exam, I opted for a lower end offering of the Orvis company: a four piece rod with reel and line in 6 weight.

I had been getting Orvis catalogs since I was about 11 years old. Of course, I could never afford their higher end rods and reels back then, and although my parents certainly kept me equipped with some excellent fishing tackle in more moderate price ranges, an Orvis rod back then was out of the question. I would by flies and various accessories from Orvis though. Back then, in the early 70's, Orvis ran promotions in the fishing magazines, where if you sent in a few dollars, you would get an item like a leader wallet with some leaders or a streamer wallet with some streamers, and so on. I still have and use the promo items like these that I bought in my pre-and-early teens via these promotions in Outdoor Life, Sports Afield and Field and Stream.

So when I bought my own graduation present, which I think went for about $300 when all was said and done, I remember declining to purchase an extra spool for the outfit. I've always been a WF floating line fly fisherman. But lately, I've been using an outfit I picked up used that had a sinking tip line on it, and found it to be productive in the heat of the day. So I set about to find an extra spool for the Orvis Madison III Disc Drag reel from the graduation rod purchase.

I knew that Orvis had not made this reel for many years. I think the Madison might have been one of the last "low end" Orvis reels made in England. You can still get that English quality nowadays, but you're gonna pay big for it. I looked on ebay, and didn't find any spools there. On a whim, I emailed Orvis, and over the next couple of days had some back and forth with a very nice gentleman about the specifics of my reel.

Orvis then emailed me that they had an extra spool in their parts warehouse and I could buy it. I figured a spool was going to cost me some dollars, as much or more than an entire lower end fly reel from an asian manufacturer, and was amazed when quoted the price of $11.

$11. That might be cheaper than it was back when it was in production and a regular selling item. In any event, it's on it's way here now, and I've got some backing and a dandy Orvis sinking tip line ready to load on it.

I'm also on the lookout for a reasonably priced spin/fly bamboo Rocky Mountain rod from about 40 years ago. There are several on ebay right now, and failing that exact model, over the next few weeks I'll be looking for a good used 30-40 year old Orvis bamboo rod, in anywhere from a 2wt to 4wt and hopefully of a shorter length, anywhere from 5' to 6.5'. I've seen some auctions end under $200 for decent rods lately, and that's encouraging to a working man with a family who can't come close to affording one of Orvis's few current bamboo rod offerings.

Orvis has been making excellent fishing and hunting gear for many years now. One reason I keep coming back is because there is so much service after the sale. In this case, many years after the sale. And that service I got from two gentlemen and one young lady who took my order over the phone? It couldn't have been more polite, efficient or respectful.

Or productive.