May 16, 2008
By Gretchen Neubauer
Check out more photos from this outing in our Photo Gallery!
When Mary Rohrer invited me to attend the 2nd Annual FFF Gulf Coast Expo in Lake Charles with her and two other Texas Women Fly Fishers’ (TWFF) members Frances Hamm and Lavene Jones, I wasn’t sure what to expect. TWFF had a booth at the expo last year where they successfully raised funds for the club and Casting for Recovery (CFR). When it was decided to have a booth this year we discussed a booth that was more self sustaining so each of us could attend selected clinics and workshops without worrying about wo’manning the booth.
All-in-all The expo offered an abundance of activities from fl y tying workshops to casting clinics. My husband is the fl y tier in the family so I decided to concentrate on improving my cast. I pretty much have the basic cast down with the 5wt I normally use. However, I have trouble achieving distance with the larger (7-10wt) rods and bigger flies used for saltwater fishing, especially in the wind that you always find at the coast. My husband and I purchased kayaks about 3 years ago and have spent a many fruitless weekends fishing the bays at Aransas Pass, Port Aransas, and Galveston. Because casting while seated in a kayak is very different from casting while standing in a river I was also hoping to pickup some techniques to become more successful.
All-in-all Jay Clark’s “Intermediate Casting” clinic was great. I honestly didn’t hear anything new but he definitely reinforced many of the concepts I’ve heard before; line speed, small loops, and “the stop”. As I feared he also encouraged the use of the dreaded double-haul. I have been avoiding it to this point because of my lack of coordination. I decided that I have to put aside my fears and realized the only way I am going to increase my line speed which will improve my distance is to perfect the double-haul.
All-in-all Dave Lemke’s “Coping with the Wind” helped me to understand why I constantly hit myself in the back of the head when fishing at the coast. With the constant wind and the size of flies used for bay fishing, I’m surprised I haven’t knocked myself out yet. The concept of changing my casting angle depending on the direction of the wind is something I had heard about but not actually practiced. Dave showed us several drills which helped me to better understand the effect the wind has on my fl y and fl y line. I’m looking forward to using what I learned the next time I’m fishing the bay and hopefully return home with fewer head contusions. My last casting clinic was Mark Marmon’s “Specialty Casts for Saltwater”. Mark is an old Guadalupe River Trout Unlimited (GRTU) friend. I was happy for another opportunity to have him scrutinize my cast and offer tips and techniques for improvement.
All-in-all The quality I like most about all the Certified Casting Instructors (CCI) I’ve had the pleasure to work with is that they all speak the same language. I was able to go from the expertise of Jay to Dave to Mark without the need to learn a new casting vocabulary. It was a real pleasure to work with each of them. Friday night’s crawfish boil was a lot of fun! Even though I’m not a fan of crawfish, I enjoyed watching others gorge themselves and get covered in crawfish juice. I DID eat two token crawfish in hopes of avoiding the wrath of crawfish lovers everywhere. Afterwards, I went to dinner with good friends Mary Rohrer and Stacy Trimble at Steamboat Bill’s. They have delicious Banana’s Foster pie.
All-in-all Saturday lunch was spent at the Women’s Outreach Luncheon at Pujo’s Street Café with guest speaker Kathy Sparrow. Capt Kathy is an award-winning magazine writer, author, and workshop leader. She writes and speaks on the topics of women’s issues, fl y fishing, and spirituality. The luncheon was attended by a combination of women some who fly fish and others who do not. Kathy is a wonderfully inspiring speaker. We all enjoyed hearing many of her fl y fishing experiences and having the opportunity to share some of our own. Due to a myriad of very generous donations we raised nearly $400 at the luncheon’s silent auction.
The expo concluded with a very lively auction following the banquet. Auctioneer Jonny Chamness kept the audience engaged and entertained throughout the evening. There were many exceptional items donated for the auction from fly rods and reels to waders and wading boots to fly fishing art to guided fishing trips. I bid on and won a guided trip on the Bighole River in Montana. I can wait. I may even invite my husband. The last auction item was a beautifully crafted wooden plate made for TWFF by Gary Armitage and laser engraved by One Foot Engrave and signed by numerous renowned fl y tiers and fishers. The platter fetched $500 for CFR. This money will go towards sponsoring a woman at Texas’ next CFR retreat.
Beautifully hand-crafted plate by Gary Armitage
All-in-all I had a great weekend. I was able to reconnect with old friends and meet loads of new ones. I hope to share some exaggerated fishing stories with all of them in the very near future. May the wind always be at your back and your fl y line always be tight with the catch of your life.