Troutfest 2017

By TB

Up until a year or so ago, every “conference” I’d attended had something to do with educational technology, from NECC/ISTE to SXSWedu and dozens of statewide conferences in between.  I could tell you everything about using social media in the classroom, the ins and outs of challenge-based learning, how administrators should be encouraging and supporting educators using technology in the classroom and much, much more.  This past weekend, that all changed.

Every year, the Guadalupe River Trout Unlimited (GRTU) chapter puts on its major fundraiser, a conference called Troutfest.  This year, Barb and I were actually in central Texas and able to attend the event.  Instead of bits and bytes, we learned about strip sets, euronymphing techniques, tailwater trout tips, and reading streams for better fishing.  Here is a recap of our time at the GRTU Troutfest.

We showed up Saturday morning, bright and early, to catch a session on “Fishing the Driftless” with Jen Ripple.  This was a big session for us since in August of this year, as our “River Ramble” takes us from the western US to the east, we will be fishing in Wisconsin in an area known as the “Driftless” area.  It turns out, this area was formed by glacial “drift” some 500,000 years ago.  What this drift created was a series of deeply carved river valleys.  A TU Top 100 trout stream in this area is the West Branch of the Kickapoo River.  We’ll be putting the SaraLinda near Viroquoa, Wi, to fish this stream, along with several others Jen recommended, including the Timber Coulee, Blue and Big Green.  With over 3000 miles of improved trout streams, thanks to Trout Unlimited and others, we are excited to be heading to these waters.  Who knew; great trout fishing in Wisconsin.  However, we were warned that in summer, when we will be there, we should watch out for wild parsnip, which turns out to be toxic when the sap gets on your skin, producing sometimes serious chemical burns.  Needless to say, when we fish the Driftless, we’ll be wearing long fishing pants and long sleeve shirts.  Big thanks to Jen for all the intel and sharing.  Make sure to checkout her free online magazine, Dun Magazine, The Women’s Fly Fishing Magazine.

Next up, we sat in on a session with George Daniel, a fly fishing legend at only 38 years old, on nymph fishing without an indicator, or “tight line” nymphing.  While we learned to do this on our 2016 Ramble, especially from Rachel Finn on the West Branch of the Ausable in NY and Lance Wilt on the streams around State College, PA, we knew we needed more help, and George came through.  As we listened, it was like things started to “click” in our minds as to the when, where and why to employ this technique.

We also sat in on another of Georges’ sessions on the “Strip Set” when fishing streamers.  Barb and I both enjoy fishing streamers but have had the least experience fishing them so far.  Hearing George talk about the proper equipment, the right flies and most importantly, successful streamer fishing techniques, we now feel much better about it conceptually and will be heading to our “Local Water”, the Guadalupe River, this weekend to work on our techniques.  I especially want to work on fishing streamers upstream as this technique seems to be the most productive way to fish a streamer.  There is something inherently primal about fishing streamers, feeling the tug as the fish hits and eats the streamer.  The fly fishing saying, “The Tug is the Drug” is a mantra to anglers everywhere.  We grabbed a copy of George’s book, aptly titled “Strip Set” and got it autographed.  A great read for anglers who appreciate the tug drug addiction.

Finally, on Saturday night, Trout Porn!  Yes, this is an actual term fly fishermen use to describe pictures and movies anglers post to internet websites showing huge trout.  Highlighting this, every year a group puts on the Fly Fishing Film Tour (F3T), a road show around the country showing a dozen or so short films about fly fishing, both fresh water and salt water.  While often these films show the huge trout, tarpon, permit, bonefish, steelhead and other species being caught, they most often focus on the adventure, people and scenic locations where these fish are being pursued.  This years films were no exception with adventures to places like Siberia and Kamchatka, to great human interest stories connecting friends and family to this endeavor.  It’s really fun sitting in an audience of several hundred anglers, when one of the giant fish gets hooked and starts its runs and jumps, to hear everyone cheer aloud.  For all of us, this moment in fly fishing is a big part of the reason we fish, so we collectively celebrate it.  I hope you’ll consider attending one of these F3T events held around the country.  Here is the LINK to the schedule.  Most times, in each location, it’s far more than just the film, with activities including food and great local beer, live music and vendors participating.  At Troutfest, we had vendors from local fly shops and travel companies, to major vendors like Orvis, Sage, TFO, Rio and Umpqua; great music provided by Little Outfit from Houston; and food/beer provided by Gruene Outfitters, Gruene River Grill, Upslope Brewing and Guadalupe River Brewing.

A BIG thank you to all the GRTU organizers for a great Troutfest.  We cannot wait for next year!   And to top it off, to close their set out, the band Little Outfit amazingly played our theme song by Led Zeppelin…..

Ramble On!

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