A few months ago my fishing buddy, Mike Schlimgen, won a very prestigious fly fishing tournament in the Hill Country.
Creator of the six month long tournament, Dave Ellzey, named it the Texas River Bum Hill Country Mixed Bag 2012 Fly Fishing Tournament (TRBHCMBFFT).
This unique tournament targeted 20 species of fish found in Texas Hill Country rivers and lakes above I-35. Since it began in April and ended in October the tournament included spring, summer and fall fishing. A score was assigned to each species of fish and additional points were earned for oversized fish.
The 20 species targeted were three black basses — largemouth, smallmouth and Guadalupe— as well as eight varieties of pan fish: bluegill, redbreast, green sunfish, warmouth, redear, white crappie, Rio Grande cichlid, and long ear. Add to that the six “rough” fish — common carp, long nosed gar, smallmouth buffalo, redhorse sucker, channel catfish and freshwater drum, plus a striped bass, white bass and a rainbow trout.
All fish were measured and photographed on a special tournament ruler, and immediately returned unharmed to the water.
More $3,000 in prizes were awarded, including a fully-equipped Diablo Chapacabra Kayak, valued at over $1,500 for first place.
Mike talked me into paying my $30 to join the tournament. On our first tournament outing on the Guadalupe River near New Braunfels it suddenly dawned on me that “I don’t want to be doing this.”
Several reasons brought about this decision. First, it was going to take a huge investment of time. Fishing for bass on Bastrop Lake in April, May and June would have to be dropped. My coastal fishing in the summer and early fall would be curtailed. And what about dove and early teal hunting season in September?
Second, all the rivers and lakes were above I-35. Most of my kayak fly fishing is done on the San Marcos, Blanco and Guadalupe rivers below I-35. Too much travel. Also, many of the target species I had no interest in pursuing. A redhorse sucker? And I don’t like the trouble of photographing fish on a ruler in a kayak. And I hate fooling with the internet to enter pictures to the tournament board.
“Mike”, I said as we drifted down the Guadalupe, “I don’t want to invest the time and effort to do this tournament. You win it and I’ll write a story about your victory for the newspaper.”