Three cities in nine days. The last two in Texas.
I spent fifteen years in the Lone Star State, and what I realize now is that I understand the rhythm of Texas. A lot of people would hear “I’m going to Houston” or “I’m headed to San Antonio” and think “Ugh, hot, swamp, awful.” It is hot, but these are really cool places if you get to know them. Hadn’t been home in over a year. Mother, sister, brother, nieces, nephew and sister-in-law. Neglected really. At least in my mind. You go, you see and you promise yourself “I’ll be back.” “I’ll come back soon and more often,” and then the morning light shines on fall and you realize you failed again.
Dad is gone. His ashes sit near the top of the fire place. Inside the cabin. Mom talks to him every morning. Welcomes the day and tells him she will need his help before all is said and done. Outside the feral cats, deer, fox and vultures all come to pay visits. Even the hummingbird slows down to spend time in the spray from the hose. Nature butts up against everything here. I check my boots for scorpions before sliding them on.
I have access to a place to fish. Not many have this access. Last year I hooked a small bass on a topwater popper. To speed things up I pulled the small fish to the surface and began stripping the line as fast as possible to bring that baby in. It was too small to fight, so a quick release and freedom was the plan. Trouble was there was a larger bass, a MUCH larger bass that had other plans. This beast, the largest bass I’ve ever had on, fancied my fish, and my fly. A bucket sized mouth opened from below and the vortex just sucked it all in. Deep, down, dark. Gone. Submerged like a barrel of concrete. My flyrod bent at a nearly impossible angle. My mother watching it all go down. “That rod is never gonna make it,” she said. A stalemate ensued. I slowly pulled back but nothing budged. “Well, what are you gonna do,” she asked. “Wait,” I said. Minutes ticked by. Suddenly, straight up from the bottom, came the same bucket mouth, but this time it was nearly straight down at my feet. With an enormous flush of water the bass released its prize possession and with a flick of it’s tail powered off. My original fish was alive but damaged. My fly was powder. My rod intact. My mind, altered, knowing a monster of this size lurked below.
This past week I hooked another large bass in the exact same location. Same rod, reel, line, tippet and fly. BOOM. Not the same fish, but big enough to get my heart going. Fishing bass on a trout setup isn’t wise, but I do it anyway. Can only fit so much in my suitcase. I’ll be back.