© 2012 Will K Nicole Guadalupe

#FlyStock Wrap-up: “Carp, Corn Chips & Double Hauls”

Below is the guest post by Brandon Robinson (OneBugIsFake) and summary of the two-day fish-a-palooza down in Texas country that he organizes, runs, and somehow finds time to fish during.  It’s no joke, and based on the sheer amount of work any event takes to plan and get of the ground–it’s worth hearing about.

It’s also worth fishing at: tons of awesome sponsors, great fishers, and one hell of a setting.  I came very close to being close to Austin the weekend of #FlyStock and would have dropped by; destiny had other plans and I don’t think I even fished that weekend at home.  Either way, it looked like a great weekend that was full of challenges waiting to be overcome…most of them happened to be amazing native species with gills and fins.  On with the fun….

Foreword:  I like fishing with people.  There are times where I want to be on the lonesome side of the river, however by and large, I enjoy company.  I learn things that way, discover different methods, find new scripture for my church, and revel in the camaraderie.  I am on the home stretch of my 3rd year, making this the longest singular activity I have ever perused.  Along the way I have virtually met a bevy of accomplished anglers, and have fished with a smaller number of those.  Here in my part of the water I am lucky to know (and fish with): a talented artist Shawn Bichsel, the owner of the oldest fly fishing blog (Dean Burris) in the United States, David Ellzey, Thomas Flemmons, and Nathan Brown.  Online, the number increases exponentially.  #FlyStock was born out of that.  It morphed into a fishing trip before finally shedding the husk and taking flight as a fundraiser.

I took it serious; putting things together to pull it off.  One critical component was lost in shipping, and we got someone else’s delivery.  At the apex of dealing with that, all hell broke loose.  Texas was expecting a spring rain that never came, and instead received a record-breaking heat wave.  That one-two punch set Texas up for the haymaker — fires.  Attempting a three day event in the tinderbox that was the Hill Country would have certainly been disastrous.   The event was postponed, and confusion set in that the event was cancelled.  Suddenly the support I had for the event dried up like the rivers last summer, minus these exceptions; Diablo Paddle Sports, Long’s Fish Camp, and Living Waters Fly Fishing.

Still I pushed on, determined to see this through.  Sponsors pulled out, coordinators evaporated, but I was not going to be denied to see it through.  I still had a venue after all, and I still had a celebrity coming in to attend the event.  It had to happen.

Less than a week before #FlyStock a storm blew through, flooding the Hill Country.  I had to smile a bit at the irony.  “From drought to blow-out”, I thought.  I was sweating though.  The Llano is a moody river, and all the fish in it feed off that energy.  Muddy and high water makes Llano fishing impossible; 75% of it is sight fishing.  The remaining quarter requires you to at least see what structure there is.  Truly blind casting yields no fruit, and bitter anglers.  Somewhere in the beginning of the week, I called my Mom; thus activating my prayer circle.  Both silently and audibly I prayed for fishable water and I asked them to pray for the same.  I reasoned that a scattergun blast of prayer would be effective, but without a choke the shot would go everywhere.  I didn’t want to pray for a whole bunch of things while aiming at the event; I wanted to concentrate on one area.  The singular target of the 12 gauge prayer was fishable waters.  I checked river flows twice an hour, all the way up to the event.  I crossed fingers, stayed away from black cats, and sacrificed a goat.  I was stressed out and it was starting to show.

I worked on other things, like collecting the items for the silent auction.  I tweaked the website too, changing it daily as bands and vendors signed on and subsequently dropped off.  My stress was at an all-time high, and that was before I dropped my phone in the drink.  The night before the event started.  At work.  I retrieved the phone from its shallow grave, trying desperately to remove the battery without hitting buttons.  Not yet accomplishing the purpose that drove me to this scenario only made it harder to concentrate.  As the screen stared flickering, I knew I had failed.  No phone and an event less than 12 hours out.  To top it off, the first day of the event was the class final at work, and another instructor was covering my class.  I told him to call me if he needed anything.  The next day at the sprint store, I was told that they no longer handle liquid damage in the store. Shows you how long it has been since I discovered the rice trick.  I had to find a phone, (or buy one outright) and break speed limit laws in several counties to get back on track.  Sparing the grittier details and off color language I eventually was able to pop smoke – four hours late. The stress melted away as I pulled into Long’s Fish Camp and saw the water.  The color was that of sun tea, and getting clearer by the hour.  Thomas and Megan [Diablo Paddle Sports] pulled up a little bit later and we all took about 30 minutes to relax before unloading the groceries they provided.  #FlyStock was here, and it was going to be a good time.

The band for Friday afternoon showed up, picked a section of riverfront, and starting setting up.  They were called Southern Underground, (check them out on Facebook) and they were as excited to be a part of the first annual event as we were to have them. After the sound check, they started cranking out Texas Country hits from; Ray Wylie Hubbard, Cross Canadian Ragweed, Stoney LaRue, and even ‘Amos Moses’ by Jerry Reed.  These guys have excellent raw talent, and I hope to get them back next year.  With superb music cranking out and flooding the entire riparian corridor, I had to go fish (and sing along).

The sun set and my biggest logistical oversight presented itself.  We had no lights!  Tom Ben Lindley was next up, and he played a 30 minute set in the dark before Southern Underground went back up.  Tom was appalled at the conditions apparently, and decided to not come back the next night.  Southern Underground, however was not easily deterred and played another spectacular set before smoking their amp.  Check these guys out: they are hard chargers and truly just love to play for anyone that will listen.

The next day, the crew at Long’s came out early and picked up trash.  Vendors started showing up and people came ready to fish.  First out was David Ellzey, his daughter Jaz, and Shawn Bichsel.  Shawn I saw a couple of times, the Texas River Bum crew I didn’t see again until the day was over.  You can see how they did here in a detailed fishing report.  I spent most of my time getting video footage of the event and shaking hands.  We had a good turnout for a first year event, and plenty of fish were caught.  Nicole Darland came out and spent a lot of time mingling and fishing with attendees.  She also landed a new species for her “creel” — a very pretty Guadalupe Bass.  Living Waters Fly Fishing came out, set up a booth, and started fishing.  They also offered tying demos and hands on advice for anglers of all speeds.  Local guide/published author/celebrity Kevin Hutchison set up a booth as well, and tied up several flies.  He answered questions, and doled advice to any that asked.  To my knowledge, no one that came out to fish was skunked!  That night, Michael O’Connor played a stunning acoustic set, despite the bugs flying around the lights.  He was received very well, selling CD after CD as proof.  Good times were had by all who attended.

Sunday, two people came out: Jim Gray and Jeff Hoelter.  Jim is the “Carp King” of central Texas, and Jeff is one of the most talented fly tiers I know.  They manned the brick and mortar Living Waters Fly Shop while the owner and staff (and Emily) came out to support FlyStock the day before.  It was a rare privilege to fish with both of them and learn how they pick apart the Llano.  Jeff had a good day, I didn’t get skunked, and Jim walked away the hero of the day nabbing close to thirty fish in four hours.  After all that, they lent a hand with the final clean-up and Jim treated us to Cooper’s Bar-B-Q in Llano (a first for me, and super delicious.  Try the cobbler).

So 1425 words later, it is my pleasure to present you with what is possibly my finest video yet.  The first and last songs in the video belong to Michael O’Connor and were featured at FlyStock.  The middle song, well it is possibly my favorite song, and seemed very fitting.  It is performed by Matt King, and it is called ‘Shanty Town’. All three songs are available to purchase on iTunes and their respective websites.  I also outright stole an editing cue from Yukon Goes Fishing for this montage. Remember Ivan, imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.  Lastly, I want to thank Long’s Fish Camp.  They have roughly three thousand acres of beautiful riverfront property that you can access for pocket change.  They have been supportive of the event on the grandest scale, and you should make the trip to come see them.  See them, and fish the waters of FlyStock.  Tell them you heard about them from FlyStock so I can score some brownie points too, if you don’t mind.  See you downstream, and out next year for #FlyStock 2013!

4 Comments

  1. Posted April 10, 2012 at 11:03 am | #

    Thanks to Amanda Fowler, Living Waters, Megan Flemmons, Shawn Bichsel, David and Jaz Ellzey, and Matt Bennett for the pictures!

  2. Posted April 10, 2012 at 2:11 pm | #

    Complete awesomeness, Brandon. Great post and great passion for pulling off #Flystock with all the roadblocks put in front of you. I only wish Texas wasn’t on the other side of the world for me as I would love to attend this event.

    Congrats to you, the bands, the sponsors and, and of course, the attendees for seeing this through.

  3. Posted April 15, 2012 at 8:11 am | #

    Wow! Looks like a great time. I am putting next year’s Flystock on my calendar! Llano…I have to see the awesomeness of this river. Glad that you had a successful event and that weather held up for you.

  4. Posted April 16, 2012 at 12:02 pm | #

    Sounds like a fantastic time and I’m glad all the pieces fell into place. Music and Fish. Nice. Next year I’ll definitely be looking at my calendar to try and come. :)

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