For fourteen years, the TexasParks and Wildlife Department has presented the Fly Fish Texas event in early March in AthensTexas. You have to drive through Palestine to get there. This event is located at the beautiful TexasFreshwatersFisheriesCenter. Fly fishers from all over Texas and parts of Louisiana expose the events attendees to every aspect of fly fishing. TPWD stocks all of the ponds at the Center with rainbows and the casting and catching begins. It’s catch and release, but the trout don’t survive in these ponds when the weather warms up.
Fishing buddy and fellow casting instructor, Harry Crofton and I have participated in this event for several years. First, as part of the mass Teach East Texas Country Folks to Fly Cast Program. Then later we added our own personal touch with intermediate casting instruction, destination programs, and fly fishing skills workshops.
This year we took a little detour on our drive up to visit with Harry’s friend, Rice University Geology professor HC Clark, at his 800 acre ranch near Groesbeck, Texas. The country side is speckled with ponds that we call tanks. Usually the ranchers will stock them with bass and bream. The tanks that aren’t stocked by man usually get stocked the old fashioned way, via waterfowl.
We followed HC’s Kubota tractor on a 4-wheeler, with rods in hand and hanging on for dear life as we bounced through cow pastures touring the various tanks. Each tank is designed for the comfort of cattle during the hot Texas summers – plenty of water and mostly surrounded by low-lying shade trees. We dodged the thorny trees, battled the wind and caught a few fish in the process. We fished with Harry’s favorite rod, the Echo3 7′ 6″ #3 and I used an Echo3 9′ 0″ #5. Of course, both rods performed beautifully, I always seem to find myself stopping while fishing to say “Damn I like how this rod casts”.