Road trip reinstated

Last year due to Covid, SWMBO (she who must be obeyed) and I had to cancel our annual spring road trip. This year the virus wasn’t so rampant, and we had received both shoots, so a trip was planned. When it was all said and done, the road trip took five weeks, and had us traveling 4,500 miles, through six states. The trip was designed to hug the Wild Bunch and fly fish. Which one was more important depended on who you talked to, me or SWMBO.  

The drive took us southeast through the vast open spaces of New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma. Areas we hadn’t seen in over a year. We drove through hundreds of thousand acres of flat land. The vastness is home to cows, oil wells, wind turbines, and irrigation pivot systems. Our route then took us into Arkansas and Tennessee, where, at a coffee shop I was quickly reminded that honey and sugar are not just table condiments; they are in fact how our waitresses referred to me. I love Arkansas, it can be so civil. The area through Arkansas and into Tennessee is also referred to as the Bible Belt. Billboards and restaurant marques are used to remind you of that. As we drove into Arkansas a billboard reminded us that Jesus Saves. My favorite restaurant marque in Tennessee, at a bar and cafe, on a Sunday for open-mike night of gospel music said, “beer, bar-b-q, and Jesus”  

Enough travelogue. We got to Tennessee, I hugged three-fifths of the Wild Bunch, the other two-fifths would come later; it was time to fly fish. The first fly fishing happened on a small muddy stock pond at the VRBO SWMBO had found for us. This pond reminded me to be prepared for anything when fly fishing. I discovered the pond was full of catfish, and one very large black bass. I further found their favorite fly was a red San Juan Worm; go figure. 

Tennessee has an endless number of ponds, lakes, and rivers to fly fish. The Duck River, where I floated and fished, is known for its large population of different species of bass. Using poppers and streamers my son-in-law and I caught largemouth, smallmouth, and rock bass. We also saw a grand total of three other people. For the rest of our time in Tennessee I investigated the area ponds and small lakes in subdivisions. The ponds held perch and smallmouth bass. When you’re traveling, don’t overlook the ponds in subdivisions and apartment complexes which can provide hours of fly fishing. 

Texas was the next stop to fish with friends from Texas and Colorado. We picked up one of our group at the Austin airport, drove to New Braunfels and met up with the two other fly fishermen. Here SWMBO left us to fly fish while she enjoyed four solitary days in the Texas Hill Country. Our three days of fly fishing on two lakes and one river produced a large variety of warm water fish. Our two guides had us catching; large and smallmouth bass, gar, palomino trout, rainbow trout, and perch. The fish were caught on poppers, streamers, and large nymphs using six-or seven-weight rods.  

After the group headed home SWMBO and I went to Austin to visit the other two-fifths of the Wild Bunch. However, true to my fly fishing ethic, I managed to cast a fly in the park pond where this Wild Bunch lives. Here I offered to let the oldest member of the Austin chapter of the Wild Bunch reel in any fish I caught. He thought the swing set looked more fun and left me to cast on my own. I did manage to catch a couple of perch before I, too, went to the swing set. 

I recommend a road trip to anybody that can get away. Fly fishing in new locations is always fun. Plus, road signs and waitresses in coffee shops along the route will remind you of what a great country we live.  

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