Out with the old, in with the old

Out with the old, in with the old

Andy Dear | Sunday, 24 March 2019

I've been fishing the Upper Guadalupe River with a fly rod since 1996. If ever a body of water could be considered an old friend, the Guadalupe would be one of my best.

   There are however many stretches I haven't seen in almost 20 years. When my last canoe bit the dust, rather than purchase a new one, I relegated myself to fishing the stretches that had public "walk-in" access. The fishing was still good, but over the past few years, I've found myself missing the more remote stretches that were once regular fixtures in my travels. That all changed today, as before next weeks end, I will be the proud owner of a new outfitter style whitewater fishing raft. Barring any spring weather delays, next weekends maiden voyage will mark the first of what I hope to be many memorable visits to some of the most beautiful water in the Texas Hill Country.

   Speaking of old friends, this month has seen several re-enter my life in an unexpected way. One of whom is a member of what I consider to be one of the finest families of flyrod tapers ever to ever cast a loop...The AllStar Austin Series. As silly as it may sound to refer to a flyrod as an old friend, I know many of, if not all of you can relate to that sentiment. And as both a rod builder and a fisherman, I make no apologies for my emotional attachment to my equipment. I have a long history with the Austin tapers, and at one point, had at least one of every model in the Austin blank lineup in my quiver. In a weak moment in 2014 when I wasn't fishing much, I made an ill fated decision to sell my entire Austin collection to someone who could use them and appreciate them more than I was. Even though at the time it seemed like the right thing to do, that decision has since turned into one of my great regrets of the last several years. Recently, however, I received an email from a new client who had stumbled across a brand new "old stock" AllStar 10/11 wt. and offered to trade it for some other blanks I had in my arsenal. Of course, I jumped at the chance, as the 10/11wt. was heralded by many in the Florida Keys as one of the best Tarpon Rods ever designed.
  In my and many others opinion, the Austins never got the recognition they deserved. Unfortunately, they were discontinued in 2007 when AllStar Composites was purchased by Shakespeare and the factory in Houston was closed permanently. As an aside, many of you may not know that my fellow Texan and Sexyloops alumni Bill Gammel played a role in the development of the AllStar Austin series. I think Bill would also agree that its unfortunate these fine tapers are no longer available for us to enjoy.

  Lastly, and perhaps most significantly, my old friend Dr. Dan Gelo is back in my life. Dan is a kindred spirit, and a former professor of mine when I was in the undergraduate Anthropology program at the University of Texas here in San Antonio. Among other things, Dan and I both share a love of finely crafted guitars and, flyrods. Some of my fondest memories of the late '90s revolved around not only the many good float trips we took together on the Upper Guadalupe, but also the late night acoustic jam sessions we engaged in as well. As our careers took precedence, his in academia, and mine in fishing, we unfortunately lost touch with one another. Over the years I have thought of him very often for a number of reasons, the fact that he was a stellar companion to share a canoe with being only one of them. His influence on me as an academic mentor left a lasting impression effect on both my personal and professional life that cannot be overstated, and is still felt to this day. Through a series of happy accidents, I recently heard through the grapevine that he was retiring from teaching. I decided it was as good of a reason as any to place a congratulatory phone call, which turned into a 2-hour marathon of sharing the last 15 years of our lives with one another. One of my great hopes for 2019 is to share some long overdue time on the water with my old mentor and friend.

  One common theme running through all this is the good fortune I've been given to be reacquainted with so many of the best parts of my past angling life. People, places, and things that I had once considered permanently gone have in some form magically appeared again. And although I know that the past cant be recreated or relived, what can be created are new experiences with old friends....something I am really looking forward to this year 

Hope you all have a great week,