Originally posted at TexasRiverBum.com on 14 September 2011.

Foreword, a note from the author: First, the term ‘humping’ in the infantry world simply means to haul, carry, backpack, or even drag a piece of equipment across God’s green earth. This is typically executed uphill in both directions. With this being made clear I also need to add that this written recollection is no tail of grandeur. Not for the glorious experienced fisher anyway. No, this is rather a personal tale of a successful expedition with a new battle buddy on the water. It’s about finding a new challenge and learning. This is my Blanco Basic Training. It all starts with humping the ‘yak.

Dave, my new battle buddy/fly fishing drill instructor, is once again the man with the plan. Unfortunately, I am still not accustomed to the ultra-early mornings he plans (when the French and Indians attack) but I still understand their necessity. My face is mashed against the steering wheel as I wait for him at our link-up site. Drooling over the horn I think-half-dream of the fish I want to catch. Then, with a flash of light the beast catches my cloudy eyes. As I focus a yellow kayak approaches. It’s Dave. Yay Dave!

Load Transfer (click to enlarge)

He has his daughter in tow, Jazmin, or Jaz as Dave calls her. She is riding shotgun and I wave hello as they park next to me. My eyes are half blinded from the yellow ‘yak on the roof of his jeep. We need to down load and transfer the gear because the logistics of finding a place to dump in the river and finding a place to pull out dictates it so. Introductions are made, gear is swapped, and we are off to the Blanco— Wimberley bound.

The First ‘yak Drag (click to enlarge)

Fast forward now and we are at the throw in point. There is always a sense of anxiousness when on the line of departure. There is a sense of knowing the adventure ahead of you from where you are about to step off holds limitless opportunities. The first opportunity I get to snag anything presents itself in the form of the kayak’s bow drag handle, not a fish. We have to drag the boat to the first pool. The day is young and I am fresh so this was totally non-issue. Stepping in water I get chills, in the literal sense! This is a sensation lost six months back when the current Texas heat wave crept in and remains in force still.

Cool clear water—ah!

Practice Pool (click to enlarge)

The ‘yak is humped over to the first pool; this is where I get to play target practice and zero in my cast. Dave had me tie on a Tussle Spider and aim for the opposite bank. Zeroing in takes some time but I am getting there. Then—zip! Snap! Bullets? No, the green flash past me is no tracer. It’s my neon green Tussle Spider and I’ve zipped it past me so fast with just the right snap of the wrist too far to the rear that the snap-pop report I hear follow is the fly tapping the water and snapping off. Grumble, mumble, explicit beep— wait I didn’t lose it! I found it in the brush behind. This little booger is going to be lucky. I can tell.

Now, many reading this have fished before. If not all readers, anyone reading this only cares about the de-brief highlights and any pictures attached. So, I’ll get straight to the highlight reel. The trip went like this: drag the ‘yak, a baby green pig, two cats, drag the ‘yak, another baby pig but this one is flying, then more dragging the ’yak. All this sprinkled liberally with Rio’s and Redbreasts. Do I have your attention yet? Read on and remember this is a rated G story.

First Big pool (click to enlarge)

Slipping into the first big pool of the day, Jazmin right off the bat gets this ginormous Largemouth Bass on line. By Dave’s best guesstimation it beats out her best bass of 19” by at least four inches as it stands on its tail and shakes its gaping maw. All I see is a big green baby pig trying to jump its fat butt out of the water. We have no pics and can neither confirm nor deny the validity of this report. We do however reserve the right to make counter accusations. If scouts honor doesn’t work for you to take our word and you don’t like it—well, whatever. If you do like it—well, whatever anyways. It set the mood for the hunt. We were hungry for the fight.

Did you catch the part where we had to drag the kayak? Look, I’ll stop complaining about it here. (Lie.) It wasn’t that bad. (Lie.) No seriously, I don’t want to complain too bad about it because Dave was playing fish guide and I was really appreciating it. (True.) In fact, it was the kind of guide people pay for. (True again.) But, I in no way envied Jaz as she lightly trotted past drought stricken areas with her lightweight float tube on her back where we had to lift the ‘yak out and carry it. (LIE!)

Kayaks are good and we like; tubes are better. Write that down.

Now here is where unfortunately salt goes in the wound. Insert tab A salt into slot B wound. Jaz lost another giant later down the river, this time a Smallmouth Bass that spent more time in the air than in the water. Dave and Jazmin both: grumble, mumble, explicit beep. Dave crying for the missed picture op, Jaz for the fish.

Channel Catfish (click to enlarge)

We fished all day! It was awesome. I learned (sort-of) how to cast Dave’s weighted Flying Ghost Cat. Caught me a catfish on it—filthy cannibal! And I almost snagged my face in a bad cast. Even more important though was learning how to grab hold of a catfish so they don’t bayonet your hand with their poison pikes. I’m not going to lie; I get squeamish on grabbing fish to de-hook. I know Dave had to be thinking “sissy.” But I got stabbed as a kid by a floppy bluegill and developed Fishy-PTSD since. Don’t laugh! Its reel! So my mom always had to unhook them for me after. Well, momma wasn’t around today and I wasn’t about to ask Dave. So, continue mission and forget I said it. Forget I said it.

Rio Grande Cichlid (click to enlarge)

Largemouth Bass (click to enlarge)

I did pick up a few Rio’s and they are fun to catch! When Dave lands one you can be sure to hear him cheer them on fast five times, “Fight, fight, fight, fight, fight!” They are tough little guys for their size and are just plain fun. Likewise, the Redbreast Sunfish are equally exciting targets of opportunity. “Fight, fight, fight, fight, fight!”

Redbreast Sunfish (click to enlarge)

The day was great. We caught fish, dragged a kayak, and I learned to set a hook. Note to self, it’s ok if I occasionally launch a fish out of the water in the name of setting hooks. I got lucky several times that none of my fishy’s jumped hook and broke contact. I don’t know how many times I was late to reflex and set but I now know its better late than never. Final learning points: Pecan trees are nice and shakable if you land a fly in them. Cypress trees are not so forgiving. Write that down. So when you cast make sure you have a good battle sight zero and aim small, miss small. The Blanco is a great place to learn and The Green Mile delivers a great mix of chance contact encounters with fish to hand. Get outside and go find some water.

Until then, I’ll see you on the high ground – Airborne Angler