May 13, 2005
By Sarah Valentine
Check out more photos from this outing in our Photo Gallery!
One of my favorite drives in Texas is the short trip “up the canyon” from my hometown of Uvalde. Bud Priddy had been my doctor and the waters that flowed through him during his life are the same waters that still course strongly through my veins. Over a 1000 springs feed the headwaters of the Nueces as it begins its course north of Barksdale. These crystal clear waters flow through my hometown of Uvalde, my birthplace of Crystal City, and then onto Carrizo Springs where the rivers makes its eastward turn toward the Gulf of Mexico. I could bore all of you with lots of history but this is the river that was originally named Rio Escondido or hidden river and that LaSalle believed was the Mississippi in 1685! Four years later another explorer searching for LaSalle’s settlement renamed it Rio de la Nueces or river of nuts. Magnificent pecan groves, live oaks and scattered hickory tree line the banks of the Nueces as it makes its 315-mile journey down to the Gulf of Mexico. Okay, back to the trip.
Audrey and I were in charge of the outing this year and we were so excited about all of the goody bags we had prepared and about seeing all of our buddies on our favorite river. Unfortunately, Audrey’s foot surgery a few weeks before was full of complications and the blood clots lodged in her leg were not cooperating. Discretion prevailed and she stayed home and with misgivings I drove away alone, save the kayak trailer behind me. My friend Mike (Michelle) Narcisso was following me and she was looking forward to making the float down the river the next day, though she’d never fly fished or kayaked in her life. I had assured her that we were a friendly group and she would have lots of care and plenty of teachers!
We pulled into Big Oak River Camp about 2:00 p.m., and Terri told us that Linda and Betty had already made the float from the big bridge down to the camp. Cool! They reported lots of fish caught and plenty more to be caught. We settled into our cabin awaiting Coco and Sheila’s arrival. The mullet mixer was held at our cabin and we all lounged around in our easy chairs, talking about the “one fly” we would each use the next day. The first year I fished the tournament I chose a black Cypert’s minnow and was rewarded with lots of fish. I think I might be one of the few who can’t wait to lose the “one fly” so that I can fish all of the other little beauties in my fly box – especially a Miss Prissy and that great little bronze popper that Sheila Anderson and I love. After the mullet mixer, Coco and I cooked up the hash browns, sausage, and bacon for the tacos that we were selling as a Casting for Recovery® fundraiser at registration the next morning. Saturday morning began at about 5:00 a.m. for cabin #11 and the taco team of Chef Sheila and her assistants Coco, Sarah, and Mike prepared lots of tacos and packed them up and headed for registration down at the square at 7:00 a.m.
The Alamo Flyfishers and our group bought lots of tacos and we made $106 for Casting for Recovery. Group photos were taken and then we stopped to pick up kayaks at Clear Creek Outfitters for Kimberly and Ellen. Tom and Marilyn Stoner had recommended the float from Big Oak down to the 412 crossing. I was the last to enter the river but the wait was worth it. Sherri and Ronnie, Coco, Sheila, Ellen, Kimberly, and Mike all waited patiently (fishing) while I launched my kayak. I have no idea which fly I tied on first, but I know that by 11:00AM I had snipped it off and began catching lots of little perch and bass with a tiny little black foam bug. So many flies and so little time . . . I watched Ellen, Kimberly, Sherri, Coco, and Sheila catch some nice fish that day. I’m sure Ronnie caught more fish than anyone, but he and I won the prize for the most leisurely pace of the day. Though the river was lower than last year, we were all rewarded with a beautiful, leisurely trip. Lots of socializing and sporadic fishing characterized our little group. Was this really a contest? We would still be on the river if the thunder and the black clouds hadn’t chased us away! Fortunately for our group, Betty and Buster were waiting to help us shuttle back to Big Oak. I need to apologize to Ellen for ordering her to go with them and drive my truck and trailer back down to get the rest of us. I wanted to stay behind and ready the kayaks for travel. She hopped to it and though the thunder grew louder and the clouds blacker, we all made it back safely.
We all cleaned up and made it back to Casa Falcone in time for dinner. We didn’t win the “big prizes” this year but we all won lots of door prizes and ate way too much food. I think we figured out that a person would have to catch a fish every 15-20 seconds to match the number of fish caught by the winner this year. Hmmm. Oh well, it’s all in good fun – I prefer my method of selecting “one fly” at a time and fishing as many as I want all day long. Who cares about winning? The camaraderie and the peacefulness of the river are what I long for. River of Nuts? Yeah, the nuts are the ones who fish with just one fly on this beautiful stretch of water. Red-tailed hawks, kingfishers, chickadees, titmice, cardinals, Rio Grande Perch, Guadalupe Bass, colorful flowers, a clear blue sky, crystal clear water, good friends, lots of stories, lots of laughter . . . those are the only prizes I care about winning. Bud would understand completely. Fish on!