Austin Fly Fishers Oct-Dec Newsletter 2023

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October - December 2023 Volume 25 Issue 5

Martin Ejler Olsen with a seatrout on the Varmá River

Varmá River, Iceland by Rasmus Ovesen

South Padre Island by Nils Pearson

Llano River Outing by Jim Gray

President’s Messag


So long and thanks for all the fish! My term as President (and VP) is coming to an end so this will be my final ‘official’ message to the club. Really, all I can say is it’s been a joy to serve the finest group of fly fishing folks to be found anywhere. Together we’ve overcome plenty of hurdles and the club’s future is looking bright. We recovered nicely post-pandemic, lined up great new speakers, increased membership, upgraded our software, and had some great outings despite challenging conditions. Lots of fish have been caught by members and, through SKIFF and Casting for Recovery, we’ve sponsored lots of big and little folks on their own fishing outings. And now it’s time for new blood! We’ve already had new member Julian Gong volunteer to help out with membership and software (thank you, Julian!) and I’ve heard rumblings of interest in leadership from other members. Here’s who’s needed: President - Handles executive administration functions, interacts with other clubs and FFI and leads board meetings. There’s lots of past Presidents still around to provide guidance. Vice President - Lines up speakers or offsite events for monthly meetings. This is a great way to get to know lots of folks in the local fly fishing community. Outings Chair - If you love thinking about and taking fishing trips (and who doesn’t?), this is the post for you. The Outings Chair comes up with ideas for outings and then lines up a host (one of you, members) and helps with the details. You don’t have to lead every outing yourself but you can if you want to! Membership Chair - With Julian’s help, this position will be easy as pie. With our new software, this position has moved from accounting to marketing. Social media influencers welcome! Secretary - takes meeting minutes at Board meetings. Full disclosure, I’ve been doing this and may continue in this role unless someone else would like to do this. After all, someone has to keep on eye on things. If you’re interested in any of these roles, come to the November 16th meeting or send an email to If we have more than one candidate for any role, we’ll have an election!

Officers: President Kathi Harris

Treasurer Jim Robinson Past President Dave Bush Conservation Keith Mars Education Austin Orr Merchandise Shawn Riggs Membership Kevin Cloonan Newsletter Nils Pearson Outings Juan Shepperd SKIFF Dave Hill Manuel Pena Webmaster Brandon Rabke To contact officers:

Austin Fly Fishers Varmá River, Iceland Technical Pocket Water Fishing for Thermal Trout by Rasmus Ovesen South Padre Island, Texas by Nils Pearson Club Outing to the Llano River by Jim Gray Conservation by Keith Mars SKIFF –Soldiers Kids Involved in Fun Fishing by Manuel Pena CFR –Casting for Recovery by Susan Gaetz Treasurer’s Report by Jim Robinson Club Photos by Gary Heintschel and Bill Buglehall

Fly Fishing Destinations Varmá River, Iceland

Technical Pocket Water Fishing for Thermal Trout

Iceland is a smoldering volcanic island; a geological wonder perched on top of a substratum of boiling magma right where the North American and Eurasian continental plates move in opposite directions. Along this fault line, where everything gets pulled apart in endless slow-motion, heat erupts constantly from the core of the earth. It is in this region of tectonic turmoil that a meandering river has found its course. by Rasmus Ovesen photos by Rasmus Ovesen & Martin Ejler Olsen SEATROUT have have always struck me as an utterly noble, fish. I grew up fly fishing for seatrout along the windswept coastal shorelines of Denmark. I’ve toiled and grinded away blindly, cast tenaciously for hours on end and in all manner of harsh weather, covered square meter after square meter of seemingly endless surface area in the ocean and fjords, and worked continually with patience, motivation, and stamina. I’ve handled my Sisyphean task with both stoicism and discipline. Every nagging speck of doubt I’ve dismissed with the uncritical zeal of a religious fanatic.

The Search for Meaning

Fly fishing for coastal seatrout sometimes borders on meaninglessness. You’re up against some sort of superior force embodied by a divinely beautiful silvery fish so elusive and ghost-like. They are evasive and so few in numbers compared to the endlessly vast expanses of the ocean, that only a special form of fanatical madness can make an otherwise rational person spend the best years of his life in pursuit of one. Who knows? Maybe there’s meaning in all the madness: In the thunderous miracle that transpires when the line comes tight and connection is established to the higher powers despite all odds. I guess I have always believed so, and, as a result, coastal fly fishing for seatrout has come to symbolize and epitomize the fact that even the most hopeless of dreams can come true.

Willingness to Take Risks

I’m a dreamer and I’ve always been willing to take great risks (as long as the potential rewards have been proportionately great). I love the thought that I deserve every single fish I catch on the coast, and that every fish represents a victory over impossible odds. But does seatrout fishing really have to be so darn difficult to make sense? Who knows? As I sit on a plane traveling to Reykjavik one late September afternoon, headed for new seatrout adventures, my

head has very little capacity for philosophical thoughts. It’s just daydreaming and fantasizing. Via Keflavik, I transfer to River Varmá in the Hveragerdi area – a place known for its many thermal springs. Here, my fishing buddy, Martin, and I will spend three days fly fishing for seatrout. The Varmá River, which compared to the salmon rivers I fish in Norway is quite small, is said to be full of migratory seatrout that amass in the sporadic pockets, runs, and pools found on the upper beats. Foreshadowed by a pocket water fishery with the possibility of big, bold, and aggressive seatrout fighting over the best holding spots, any other (reasonably sane) seatrout fisherman would be ecstatic. But I can’t help but feel a little unnerved…

Too Easy?

We arrive in Hveragerdi at night. The next morning, we wake up to the droning noise of heavy rain drumming statically on our roof. I haven’t slept very well and my head is heavy and tired. It feels as if I’ve been half-awake all night with some unformulated worry, but now something is dawning on me. Can it really be true? Am I nervous that the fishing is going to be too easy; that it’s going to feel like cheating –like shooting fish in a barrel? Full of shapeless expectations we arrive at River Varmá. It meanders

Martin Ejler Olsen hooks-up in the rain

snake-like and silent below us, flanked by jagged cliff formations and undulating lush-green hills from which steep columns of thermal fume sporadically rise up toward the lead-grey and rain-laden skies. In the diluted and vibrating gloom of the first morning light, a shimmering haze towers above the river’s fleeting, thermal water masses -looks like a ghostly bridal veil and for a short period of time I forget all about my silly worries. I’m too focused on finding out what lurks beneath the surface to think about anything else.

further upstream in intensifying heavy rain and find an interesting looking spot along a natural terrain plateau where the river licks greedily against a steep slope along the opposite bank and the water is decelerated before a sudden plummet further downstream. Using big streamers, we cover the whole stretch carefully but to no avail. It’s unclear why the fishing appears so futile, but it’s clear that the river reacts quite dramatically to the local rainfalls. The water levels are rising, and the river is becoming more and more turbid.

Clay-coloured Water

With the ongoing and expected weather conditions and the resolute way the river reacts to the downpours, it feels as if Nature is conspiring against us and that we’re in a race against time. We keep fishing, but with nothing to show for our efforts –when doing so long enough, the mind tends to wander.

A fishless hour later it’s light enough for us to actually see the water we’re fishing. The river is gorgeous and alluring with its varied course and numerous pools, runs, and lies. The surrounding area is typical Icelandic in all it’s strikingly beautiful desolateness with characteristic hilly terrain and open moss-clad plains grazed by myriads of sheep. The water, for the time being, has a slight clay color to it, and the visibility is around half a meter. The conditions, in other words, look encouraging, but with the prospects of massive rainfalls in the next couple of days, they might not stay that way. They might become a bigger challenge than we’re capable of tackling. We head

Challenge Accepted

If we hadn’t booked and paid for three days of fishing on the river, we might already have started to think in alternatives. Instead, we choose to deal with the situation and accept the challenge. We set aside our streamer rods for a bit, started brainstorming, and came up with a new strategy. Moments later, when I rig up my nymphing rod, well aware that it’s going to be anything but easy to succeed, I’m all tingling inside. It feels as if there’s now something significant at stake!

Rasmus Ovesen fishing the bottom of a pool

A Heavy Tug

The same stretch of river now gets another well-deserved run through, this time with a 9’ 4-weight fly rod, and a 6-meter-long leader with two weighted nymphs attached to the end of the tippet. I start at the opposite end of the stretch, at the very bottom, and work my way upstream with long casts, careful mending, a focused eye on the leader and strike-indicator, with a particular interest for the deep run along the opposite bank. Half an hour later, mid-drift, the strike-indicator suddenly drags a little, as if hesitant. There’s no hesitance in my response, however. Lifting the rod resolutely I’m immediately met with the weight of something big and angry down below. The next 5 minutes I follow the fish up and down the river on trembling feet and try my best to cushion the powerful tugs that propagate through the line and into my fly rod every time the fish thrashes about -something that it does frequently and with the greatest of vehement irritability.

A Magnificent Creature

Obviously, the fish has both the body weight and the muscles to refuse and resist, but it can’t fight the invisible pull forever. Soon, the fish materializes in the murky water along my own bank, like a ghost manifesting itself out of thin air. Unlike what I had expected, it isn’t chrome.

Rasmus Ovesen with the biggest fish of the trip

Quite the contrary, the fish is golden and its metallic blue flanks are painstakingly covered with inkstain-sized spots of which several are completely scarlet in color. Safely in the net, Martin and I marvel at the magnificent creature. It is 80 centimeters and weighs in excess of 6 kilos, but is it a seatrout? In addition to migratory seatrout and arctic char, Varmá is known to house a population of full-grown resident brown trout; this might very well be one of them. We shoot a series of quick images and release the fish. It will turn out to be the biggest fish of the trip, but certainly not the last. Now that our confidence has been restored, it’s game on!

Pocket Water Fishing in the Upper Reaches

As the day progresses, we venture further and further upriver –all the way to where a series of steep waterfalls mark the end of the seatrout’s migratory route. Along the way, we catch a number of feisty seatrout holding in deep runs, depressions behind big rocks and boulders, and along undercut banks. In many places, the current is now pushing fiercely and the water has turned the color of cocoa, but as long as we cast, mend, and drift our flies with precision and focus and we continue to read the water with great care, we manage to pick up a few fish here and there.

Martin Ejler Olsen with a seatrout

The seatrout that we catch feel well-deserved, but in a different way compared to the coastal seatrout back home. The ones back home are like diligence prizes, bestowed upon those who are stubbornly tenacious and headstrong. Varmá’s seatrout feel well-deserved because the fishing is challenging. Because persuading them into eating requires tactical and technical skills. Because full focus and concentration is needed to connect. Because not everyone can come here and catch fish after fish. In the rain, which continues to pour relentlessly down, we hook and land several seatrout: Each of them with their own unique looks in varying degrees of pre-spawn colors, but with the same unruly temperament and explosivity.

Technical Nymph Fishing

The upper parts of the river, where small but deep holding pockets gape under gushing rapids, prove to house big seatrout. It’s extremely technical fishing, but we meticulously go about it and find ways of dead-drifting our nymphs below cascades and waterfalls and behind boulders. Once connected to a fish, we tumble up, down, and across the river in hot pursuit of the raging fish with big smiles across our faces. It’s an incredibly exciting fishery; intense and spellbinding.

Suddenly, three days have passed, and in the meantime, we’ve caught an amount of fish that would be unimaginable and utopian on the open coast. As a fanatical coastal fly fisherman, I might still have the delusional idea that seatrout fishing is mostly about searching and not catching. But I’m now ready to conclude that there’s nothing wrong with catching solid numbers of seatrout. At least not when you have to put in your best work to catch each and every one of them. On River Varmá the struggle is real. It’s a river that rewards technical and tactical finesse over blind tenacity and power of will. And the rewards are great!

FACT FILE – River Varmá The The Varmá River has its origins in the mountain range northwest of Hveragerdi, a small city located some 45 kilometers east of Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik. Compared to a lot of other Icelandic rivers, Varmá is a relatively short river comprising a mere 15 kilometers of steep gradient and cascading water. It is a tributary to the mighty glacial river Ölfusa, whose massive icy water the Varmá briefly manages to warm before it reaches the sea west of Eyrarbakki. The name ”Varmá” refers to the river’s warm water, which is due to thermal activity in the source area and downstream towards Hveragerdi, which is a popular tourist attraction because of the many warm springs in and around the city.

The temperatures in Varmá sometimes get to 68-77 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer months, while it typically stabilizes around 50-59 degrees F during fall and winter – something that suits both the resident and migratory fish in the river. Apart from the seatrout runs during the late summer and fall months, there are also resident brown trout and a small population of BIG arctic char in Varmá, and, as a result, it can be fished all throughout the season. The seatrout fishing peaks in August and September, and depending on the water levels it is fished with either streamers (during high water conditions) or (indicator) nymphs when the water is low and clear. During particularly low water conditions, you can experience some incredibly exciting and highly technical sight-fishing, where you spot and cast to seatrout stacked up in pocket waters on the upper parts of the river. 9’ 6-weight rods and floating WF fly lines are perfect for Varmá –perhaps supplemented with a sink-tip or a sinking poly-leader for swinging streamers. Fishing licenses can be bought via Reykjavik Angling Club by following this link: They cost from $105 to $160 depending on the season, and they provide access to the whole length of the river on a rotational beat basis. Additional information can be requested via email:

Rasmus Ovesen wit

th a seatrout

South Padre Island, Texas by Nils Pearson photos by Doug Kierklewski Michael Hall Nils Pearson

The week of September 23rd, Carroll Ray Hall,

Michael Hall, Doug Kierklewski, Steven Turner, my son and I took our annual fishing trip to South Padre Island. You might ask, why go so far when North Padre Island is so much closer? My reasons are simple: no golf carts or cars on the beach, less expensive accommodations, and lots of good restaurants. But the strongest reason for traveling all this way is that the Lower Laguna Madre probably the most undisturbed natural saltwater fishing grounds you will find on the Texas coast. The area we fish starts at the Mansfield channel on the north and extends 35 miles south to Elon Musk’s Starbase located on the edge of South Bay just before you reach Mexico. The eastern border is South Padre Island. It is mostly undeveloped with the condo and hotel areas concentrated entirely on the southern end. Almost all of the west side of the Lower Laguna Madre is owned by the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge and the King Ranch. Under their stewardship, they have managed to keep this an almost entirely natural habitat forming numerous lagoons that are lined with shallow lakes and mangroves that provide excellent breeding grounds for redfish, black drum, speckled trout and all sorts of bait fish. Within this vast expanse, there are numerous flats where fly fishermen can sight cast to redfish and black drum in shallow water.

On about our third day on SPI, there was an ever so slight breeze as Capt. Eric picked Doug and me up from the dock at the Shores. We ran across the bay arriving at the west side in about half an hour. When we reached our destination, Eric started poling the flats skiff into an isolated lake. With no other boats in sight and the sun at our backs, we were delighted to see redfish tails punctuate the smooth surface of the clear water. What a sight! It had been a long time since I had seen this many redfish tails scattered on a flat. As we moved further into the lagoon, there seemed to be small pods of reds tailing all around us. Before Doug got up to the bow to begin casting, Eric suggested that he use VIP poppers instead of the crab flies we usually cast. He told us that he had had a good experience using these flies during previous trips and thought that we might enjoy watching the spectacle of reds taking a popper. I had never tried catching reds on poppers but quickly agreed with Eric’s suggestion, and before long Doug and I had poppers tied on to our fly lines and were ready to go. As we neared a pod, Eric instructed Doug to cast to the side of the pod, slightly past it, and immediately start stripping. After a couple of casts, Doug landed the popper just past the side of the pod, striped continuously, a red followed the fly, brought its head out of the water and gulped the fly.

Doug with red caught on popper

Throughout the morning, when Doug and I got everything right, we watched redfish chase poppers and aggressively inhale them on the surface. What an awesome sight! That’s fun! For me, my most dramatic catch came just after we observed something slam a creek bank where it entered the lagoon. Whatever it was, this marauder kept banging away every couple of minutes as a means to disable and devour bait fish. Upon seeing this, Eric thought that this must be a red. He positioned the boat so that I had an easy cast to the spot on the creek where the action was taking place. On about my third cast I hit the spot. Almost immediately, a big red pounced on the VIP popper just as it hit the water and ran up the creek. As he took off, I could feel that this was a big fish. All I could think was to be careful because I really don’t want to lose this one. Within seconds, I had to tighten my drag because this red was already into my backing. After fighting for the red for about 10 minutes, I landed my biggest red of the trip, took some pics, and released him unharmed. What a spectacular moment! It seems that almost every time I fish with Eric I have fishing experiences that I can replay in my mind for the rest of my life. Sometimes there is a difference of opinion between the guide who is spotting fish from his poling platform perch and the fisherman on

Nils with red and the creek in the background

Carroll with spotted seatrout

the bow. Carroll and Michael Hall were fishing with Capt. Glen Harrison. As they glided silently into a lagoon while Carroll was standing on the bow, Glen asked, “Carroll, see it? Cast to 10 o’clock at 45 feet.” Carroll responded, “I see it” and proceeded to lay out a perfect cast to 2 o’clock and well over 45 feet. Upon seeing that Carroll had cast in the opposite direction from what he had instructed, Glen raised his voice in frustration and shouted, “I said 10 not 2” and let out a string of expletives. His string of profanity came to a halt when a monster fish broke the surface and swallowed the fly. After witnessing this enormous take and with only the slightest amount of contrition, Glen said, “I think that’s a better fish than I saw.” As soon became evident, Carroll had sight casted to the fish that he had seen and landed a beautiful spotted seatrout. When talking about this episode back at the house, Michael expressed how wonderful it was to have been with his dad when he caught his lifetime best speck. Michael also had his own thoughts about the highlight of the trip for him. “Sometimes my favorite fish of the trip is the biggest one, sometimes it’s the prettiest cast to a fishy spot that turns out to be the right one. This year, it was the most elusive fish for me historically. I’ve never put the bug close enough, under the nose enough, stripped enticingly enough, to catch a black drum. This was my first.”

Michael with black drum

Long’s Fish and Dig on the Llano River by Jim Gray On October 15, 18 AFF club members met at Longs Fish and Dig for a day of fishing on the Llano River. This was a “make-up” event for a spring event that was rained out. Ironically, we went from canceling for a flood, to almost canceling for a drought. Fortunately, several weeks before the event, we got some rain, and the river began to recover. While the water came back up, the fish population was impacted by very low water for several months, and the fishing was challenging. Nils Pearson, Ben Patrick and I each took 5 anglers to a different stretch of the river. Whether it was the skill of the guides, or the skill of the anglers, I’m happy to report that everyone caught fish, including some very nice Guadalupe Bass. The key was to find moving water flowing into or out of, the deepest pools that didn’t dry up during the drought. Top producing flies were white/ natural foxy clousers and llanolopes.

One of the many pools to fish at Long’s

If you are thinking about fishing the Llano this fall, here are some tips to help make your day successful. 1. Always check the river flows before you go. We have been getting some heavy rains in Central Texas. To avoid the long drive only to find the river unfishable, I use the LCRA Hydromet site - I will fish if the flows are below 300cfs, but I prefer flows around 150cfs. 2. If you want to fish Longs Fish and Dig, you will need 10$ cash per person. If you arrive before the office (also a barn) opens, you can leave the money in a box by the door. I usually put mine in an envelope with my license plate number written on the outside. You can also pay when you are leaving. The people who run the place are friendly and accommodating. Directions - Your best bet is to put “Long’s Fish & Dig” into your GPS and follow that. I check Apple Maps and Google Maps, and it works in both. Rough direction 183 north to TX 29. Left on TX 29 to FM1431. Left on FM 1431 to CR 321. Right on CR 321 to the end of the road. CR 321 is a dirt road. Go to the end of the road and turn right. The house/barn will be on your right-hand side. 3. What should you bring? There is no shade on the river, so a hat, sunscreen and polarized sunglasses are a must. I recommend a long sleeve lightweight fishing shirt and a neck gator. This is a wading stream, so you really need to have a good pair of wading shoes with vibram or felt soles. Neoprene booties will help keep out gravel. I would recommend against any open toed shoes or sandals. You should also bring some water and a way to carry it while you are fishing. 4. Equipment - A 5 or 6wt rod is ideal; but you can fish anything from a 3wt to an 8wt. 9ft leaders, 10lb test is usually sufficient. I prefer fluorocarbon, but mono will work. 5. Flies - Most bass flies will work. Clousers, wooly buggers, poppers, hoppers are all effective. I like flies that are 2 - 3 inches. Natural colors, chartreuse and yellow are very effective. The fish are going to be very wary. I’ve had the best luck on smaller flies in natural colors. My favorite flies for the Llano are llanolopes, foxy clousers, sliders, brim reapers, swamp monsters and yellow/green poppers.

Guadalupe Bass are feeding on small baitfish in the faster water

We are in a transition period, with cooler temperatures. This can be a great time to be on the Llano, if it doesn’t get too cold for an extended period. I find the Llano usually has excellent Fall fishing into December. My recent trips have been mixed. The carp fishing has been excellent. The bass fishing has been pretty good, but you need to find the areas that are holding fish. If you do, expect the fish to be very aggressive. Fishing for sunfish has been poor. Before the drought, the Llano had a strong population of big redbreast, but the drought seems to have had a big impact, and I’m catching very few. It’s still worth going if the weather is good, just temper your expectations. The more area you cover, the more fish you will catch. So fish quickly, and move often.

Jim Gray with a common carp caught on a bream reaper. This is a great time to target them.

by Manuel Pena Austin Fly Fishers (AFF) is one of many fishing clubs in Texas, but what sets it apart from other clubs is the SKIFF Program. Let me explain. I happened to be at an AFF monthly meeting in early 2009 when Bob Maindelle, a Killeen resident, came to speak to our club about fishing for white bass in Central Texas. After Bob finished his presentation on white bass, he brought to our attention the stress that families at Fort Cavazos (formerly Fort Hood) were experiencing during a spouse’s long military deployment. In response to this situation, he started taking the children of deployed soldiers fishing. Shortly after Bob finished speaking, AFF club member Ron Cruse stood up and said, “We have to help this guy.”


Soldier’s Kids In

Those were not empty words. Ron worked in close coordination with Bob and a program that took soldiers’ kids fishing at no cost to their family started to take shape. They came up with the name for the program, Soldiers’ Kids Involved in Fishing Fun (SKIFF) and even designed a logo. The AFF board quickly backed Ron’s efforts and approved the creation and funding of the SKIFF program. In the years since the program was started, Ron Cruse has passed away but Bob Maindelle has expanded and improved the program with financial assistance from Austin Fly Fishers and donations from other groups. Over the 14

Manuel assists Aliyah and


nvolved in Fishing Fun

d Kenleigh on a SKIFF trip

years the program has been in existence, Bob has taken over 560 children fishing and they have caught and released over 14,564 fish. AFF club members may not be aware of this, but they can accompany Bob on SKIFF fishing trips. On August 9th, I joined Bob and sisters Aliyah and Kensleigh to fish Lake Belton. We started out at 6:30 a.m. and we were catching fish right from the start. As I fished with Bob, I soon realized that Bob had a lot going on: He drove the boat, set up the rods, located fish, got lines in the water, helped the kids land and release fish, untangled lines, provided instructions and encouragement, took pictures, all the while doing his best to keep the kids happy, fed, and hydrated. In other words, he provided a safe and fun fishing experience for children. With me being there, we provided more help and attention to each child. It was a fantastic day of fishing. The white bass and Hybrids were frequently feeding on the surface right next to the boat. The girls simply had to make a short cast and they had a fish on the line. We caught a total of 78 fish during the nearly four hour trip. It was the best day of fishing I have had in years. It was also a great opportunity for me to gain new skills for catching white bass. SKIFF is a simple program. It gives the children of military families an opportunity to enjoy a free fishing trip with a wonderful person and guide, Bob Maindelle. If you are interested in volunteering on a SKIFF trip, please contact me. Manuel Pena


Manuel, Aliyah and Kenleigh show off their catch

by Susan Gaetz

Casting for Recovery held 51 retreats this year, including three in Texas. Over 700 women, in various stages of breast cancer treatment or recovery, were introduced to the therapeutic sport of fly fishing at beautiful locations in 42 states.


After 27 years, the heart of Casting for Recovery (CfR) continues to be the passionate volunteers who make the retreats possible. It takes an average of 25 volunteers to host each retreat, filling a variety of roles from retreat leaders, fly fishing instructors, oncology professionals, and fishing guides. Fishing guides make up about half of the volunteers who staff each retreat. That is because every participant is matched up with her own fishing guide on the final day of the retreat, for a half day of guided catch-and-release fly fishing. The requirements for CfR Fishing Guides are simple: be a patient and accomplished angler with a desire to share their passion for fly fishing and nature with the women we serve. Every guiding experience is different. Some women are strong enough to wade into deeper water and fish for hours. Others may only have the strength to cast for 30 minutes, or may require a chair to keep fishing. Regardless, the real goal of fishing day is for women to have a positive, meaningful experience in nature. If they catch fish, that’s icing on the cake! Sometimes that meaningful experience includes sitting under a cypress tree talking about fishing, life and cancer. That’s fine too.

Volunteer Bruce Ward guides a participant during a Photo by Susan Gaetz

As we roll into the holiday season, it’s nice to be able to thank all of the volunteers who make our Texas retreats possible, including the Austin Fly Fishers. All of us at CfR are grateful for the ways you have supported our local retreats for the last 18 years. Thank you!


asting for Recovery

a CfR retreat on the Guadalupe River near Comfort, TX.

Casting for Recovery Texas will host 4 retreats in 2024. For more information about volunteering, applying for a retreat, or making a donation, please visit: or reach out to Susan Gaetz,

Conservation Report Restoring Salmon Runs The Case for Removing the Lower Snake River Dams by Keith Mars

The Pacific Northwest is certainly outside the realm of Redfish and Guadalupe Bass, but one of the largest fisheries conservation issues in the country is brewing up out there. And, as dedicated conservationists, we can come together with one voice to support the return of an American icon– the return of salmon to the Snake River. The Snake River, a tributary of the mighty Columbia River, is home to iconic salmon and steelhead populations that have sustained Indigenous communities and fueled a vibrant fishing industry for generations. However, the construction of four dams on the lower Snake River in the mid-20th century has severely hampered these fish runs, pushing several species to the brink of extinction. History of the Lower Snake River Dams The four dams – Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, Little Goose, and Lower Granite – were built between 1958 and 1975 to provide hydroelectric power, irrigation, and navigation. While these dams have provided some economic benefits, their environmental impacts have been devastating. The Dams’ Impact on Salmon and Steelhead The dams have fragmented the Snake River, disrupting the natural migration patterns of salmon and steelhead. These fish must now navigate through fish ladders, which are often inefficient and deadly. These dams have blocked these fish from accessing important spawning and rearing habitat, and they have also made it more difficult for them to migrate to and from the ocean. Above the dams, they have also created slow-moving reservoirs that warm the water, making it less hospitable for salmon and steelhead. Without the four dams on the lower Snake River, salmon could travel approximately 900 miles inland, reaching spawning grounds as far as central Idaho. Currently, the dams block salmon from accessing about 50% of their historical spawning habitat. Removing the dams would allow salmon to reach these important spawning grounds and help to restore their populations. As a result of these impacts, salmon and steelhead populations in the Snake River have plummeted. Several species are now listed under the Endangered Species Act, and even the once-abundant salmon runs are now a fraction of their former size.


The Case for Dam Removal Removing the four lower Snake River dams is widely considered to be one of the most effective measures to restore salmon and steelhead populations in the Columbia River Basin. Dam removal would significantly improve survival rates for both adult and juvenile salmon and steelhead. In addition to the environmental benefits, dam removal would also provide economic opportunities for Indigenous communities and the fishing industry. A 2022 study by the Nez Perce Tribe found that dam removal would generate $27.5 billion in economic benefits over 50 years, including $1.4 billion in annual income. Organizations Supporting Dam Removal A growing number of organizations, including Trout Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy, and American Rivers, are calling for the removal of the four lower Snake River dams. These organizations recognize that dam removal is essential to restoring salmon and steelhead populations and revitalizing the economies of the region.

Why Now is Important In 2023, U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson from Idaho introduced a bill that would authorize the removal of the dams and provide funding for salmon restoration and economic development in the region. The bill, known as the Salmon and Snake River Dams Infrastructure Act, has bipartisan support and is seen as a potential breakthrough in the long-running debate over the dams. What You Can Do to Help There are many things you can do to support the removal of the four lower Snake River dams: 1. Contact your elected representatives: Let them know that you support dam removal and urge them to take action. 2. Join an organization that supports dam removal: Organizations like Trout Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy, Patagonia, Fishpond, and American Rivers are working hard to advocate for dam removal. 3. Educate yourself and others: Learn more about the issue and share what you learn with others. 4. Support businesses that support dam removal: Look for businesses that have taken a stand in support of dam removal and patronize them. Together, as Austin Fly Fishers, we can make a difference and restore the Snake River to its former glory.

Club Photos

On Saturday July 29, on the club outing to Port O’Connor Kathi and I launched our Kayaks n Texas Parks and Wildlife building. After waiting for a barge free passage across the ICW, we the short paddle to Barroom Bay. Shortly after paddling past the kayak paddle trail marker 5 standing up in my kayak and spotted a nice redfish swimming along the shore. My first cas little short but did not spook the fish. The second cast was good. I stripped right in front of it and it was fish on! One more strip to set the hook. I got the fish on the reel and it ran a few before I remembered to drop my anchor. When I finally got the fish to the boat I sat down ungracefully and got him in the net which it did not entirely fit into. The fish was a good 28 in my estimate. There are few things as satisfying as having all the things required to catch a r in a kayak come together. –Gary Heintschel

near the e made 50 I was st was a t’s nose w times n rather inches redfish

The water levels in the south Gabe are recovering from all the rain and the bass are much more active now. The sunfish population must have taken a big hit over the long summer because they are barely present when normally they would be all over the place and almost annoyingly easy to catch. –Bill Buglehall

AFF Financials by Jim Robinson

AFF Financials Beginning Balance Income: IFF New Member Dues AFF Dues Merchandise Correction ck#1379 Total Income Disbursements:

Wild Apricot (auto debit) International Transaction Speaker AffiPay Insurance FFI (membership) Earthlink Tomstar

Total Disbursements Net Income Ending Bal-Check book Bank Balance Difference (outstanding cks) Unencumbered Balance : Encumbered Funds: Casting for Recovery SKIFF *Ck Outstanding

August $23,317.73

September $23,445.54

October $22,833.60

$220.00 $0.00 $220.00 $0.05 $364.17

$230.00 $0.00 $0.00

$70.00 $0.00 $255.00



$75.00 $2.25 $150.00 $9.11

$75.00 $2.25 $150.00 $6.91 $350.00 $155.00 $102.78

$75.00 $2.25 $150.00 $9.29

$236.36 $127.81 $23,445.54 $23,445.54 $0.00 $16,894.69

$841.94 -$611.94 $22,833.60 $22,833.60 $155.00 $16,282.75

$0.00 $6,550.85

$0.00 $6,550.85

$483.00 $719.54 -$394.54 $22,439.06 $22,409.06 $30.00 $15,888.21 $0.00 $6,550.85 $30.00

Club Resources

Cassio Silva – Central Texas Fly Fishing Guide Aaron Reed – Author Fishing Guide Austin Orr – Certified Casting Instructor Ted Mendrek – Sportsman’s Finest Fly Shop Chris Johnson – Living Waters Fly Shop and Central Texas Guide Capt. Eric Glass – Fly Fishing South Padre Island Capt. Rus Schwausch – Fly Fishing Southwest Alaska Nick Streit – New Mexico and Southern Colorado Justin Spence – Fly Shop and Guide Service West Yellowstone, Montana

12434 Bee Cave Road Austin, Texas 78738 512.263.1888 Monday: 9AM-7PM Tuesday: 9AM-7PM Wednesday: 9AM-7PM Thursday: 9AM-7PM Friday: 9AM-7PM Saturday: 9AM-7PM Sunday: Closed

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