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Barefoot Flyfishing in February: Ascension Bay, Casa Blanca Lodge

Where the Sky Begins  (Sian Ka’an) is what the ancient Mayans called this Unesco World Heritage site and where our azure adventure also begins.

The pier at Casa Blanca lodge where we called home for 8 days in February.
All of the food is fresh and made from scratch – each evening with cocktails wonderful appetizers are served to each guest. All the fish is caught by locals with special permits allowed only to them.
Renan was our bartender for the week, always at the ready with a hand crafted Margarita or drink of your choice.
The privately owned island was once a coconut plantation and now boasts Casa Blanca and it’s sister lodge Playa Blanca.

We learned about Casa Blanca through our friend and guide Doc Thompson of High Country Anglers based in Ute Park, NM – he helped us with all the arrangements.  Doc is a longtime friend of Rita Adams, who grew up fishing NM with her guide/father and became a guide herself at 17.  She and Johnny Pares manage the two privately owned lodges

Each lodge hosts up to 12 guests per week. Each night dinner is served at 6:30 and for the next few days we met the most interesting, diverse and fun new friends with the common thread of fly fishing. The dinners were always lively.

I had wondered (doubted really) my casting ability for this trip in the uncharted salt flats….I fight the wind, I have not yet learned to double haul, and have not had much practice with anything heavier than a 7 wt rod, and have yet to land a fish over 5 lbs on a fly, but then you don’t get ahead by waiting.

We took a 7, 8 and 10 wt rod and on the first day as we say in the South referring to luck, a blind hog finds an acorn! Or in this case my first bonefish on a gotcha fly tied by my husband.
First one in the boat, we caught several 23″ and over.
Your guide for the week is your lifeline and your coach. You learn to become a team. Rene is an 18 year veteran here and extremely knowledgeable about the fish and how to navigate the area and the endless maze of Mangroves.

To say Rene was patient is an understatement!  I won’t go into all my shenanigans here that I employed and my shock when that first bonefish took off….taking 1/2 the rod!  But  I will say that in 6 days Rene uttered  “Casta More Longer!” more than a few times.

Felt much like Kate & Bogey on the African Queen as we traversed through holes in the Mangroves barely tall enough for the boat to squeeze through and heavily populated by -SPIDERS!
Luckily, Rene and Tim came up with a secret weapon for the non poisonous Aranjas!

My first tarpon ever and on a fly! Skip & I both caught our 1st on the same purple/black Peanut Butter fly given to us by Doc, but it came at a high price! The fly is now retired.
After a wake up call from Manuel delivering French press coffee to our room, we join the rest of the guests for breakfast around 6:00 am.

Now if you wish, to come in a little early from fishing one day you can enjoy a field trip on the island.

Here Jed and all his friends loaded up the truck and moved to Chac Mool. We were guided that day by the very capable Tim Fischer, who made sure Coronitas were in the cooler!
A visit to the ancient Mayan ruins was ours alone – no tourists to this spot discovered around 1919. The ruins of Chac Mool ca 900 AD were named for the powerful Mayan god of rain & thunder.

Then it is back to fishing…..

At times the bonefish came in waves….where we would have two on at a time. In among the bonefish I caught this beautiful Blue Runner. we also caught Baracuda, Mangrove Snapper, Cravelle Jack a Perch but alas not a sighting of the fickle Permit. The week before the groups landed 3.
Girls just love to have fun. You would never guess two of these gals are 85 and all of us fished 6 days for 8 hours a day. One lady fished 2 weeks and only one day off.
Every detail was taken into consideration. Manuel saw to it that the tablescapes each night at dinner were fun and creative. One night we had balloons, whistles and horns to celebrate Audrey’s 85 birthday!
Each day our bed was turned down and fresh towels greeted us in creative forms called that have been taught to the locals.

Conservation and respect for the area, it’s inhabitants and natural resources are evident.  This biosphere contains the 2nd largest barrier reef in the world and is also home to abundant flora and fauna; there were a pair of nesting Osprey not 100′ away from our cocktail area, I spotted Roseate Spoonbills, Brown Crested Flycatchers, Royal Terns as well as the beautiful Mangrove Warbler for my “life list”.  The jaguar, a once iconic symbol of greatness to the Mayas as ‘king of the forest’ is now in  serious danger of extinction.

Even the resurgence of the native jaguar numbers are rebounding.

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Traditional Antlers vs Artistic Antlers

I am a big fan of traditional antler mounts—I own them.  I am a big fan of artistic endeavors–I am an artist.  I am a big fan of vintage anything—after all, I am a little vintage myself!  Every now and then vintage gets a little too grungie-even for me and needs a little help……..But when is artistic taken too far?  Or not far enough?


Creative alternative mounts at Bergdorf Goodman - NY
Creative alternative mounts by Frederique Morrel at Bergdorf Goodman – NY

A friend sent me the above photo of artistic antlers from her trip to New York over Thanksgiving as well as the one below……. and thanks to Suzie at Urban Country Style she identified the beautiful deer damask paper from Barneby Gates


Needlepoint and feather lashed hibrid deer at Bergdorf
Needlepoint and feather lashed hibrid deer at Bergdorf


I like to work with new and vintage antlers and create a custom look – I have worked with fabric on my Black Forest style mounts for clients too- but just a little more traditional in my approach.



I have found that many hunters and designers are looking for an elegant way to display their trophies – I have worked with tartan……

Roe deer on tartan insert into the Heritage Game Mounts "Legacy Panel"
Roe deer on tartan insert into the Heritage Game Mounts “Legacy Panel”

and linen…………


   and monograms…………



   and nail heads…………


 Is there room for creativity in the traditional antler mounting world….what do you think?

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Hello to Spring! Linen, Antlers & Horns

Welcome Spring….and my love of linen, antlers & horns


Kudu lamp with linen shade, vintage Blesbok & Reedbok mounts on linen.

A South African still life I made from vintage horns I have re- purposed for new life in linen.

This Spring also brings two new finishes to the Heritage Game Mounts line:

BlackBerry Finish

BlackBerry is a beautiful black distressed finish with highlights of red & umber that compliment black horns.

Old World White Finish

Old World White is a white patina finish that looks terrific with naturally sun bleached antlers & as an elegant contrast to colored walls or stone.

The Old World White finish has an Alpine Ski Lodge feel
The BlackBerry finish compliments the black horns of the vintage 1980 Steinbok

Another new addition to our line is custom monograms to the Legacy

Black bold face on gray linen
Brown script on natural linen



The African Collection:

One of a kind vintage Reedbok
Vintage Blesbok on linen



The European Collection

Top: Roe Deer on Legacy Panel
Middle: Vintage Chamois
Bottom: German Shooting Targets


German shooting targets are made from my original chromolithographs pat’d in 1897

All of these are available on our products page

Questions? Give us a call 210.822.7224

Give us Call  210.822.7224

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Colorful Old Targets Come Alive Again

Colorful Old Targets Come Alive Again

Once favored as small bore paper shooting targets- these colorful old targets have come alive again as sporting art for the gentleman’s study.

Artist, Rita Schimpff discovered some of the original images Patented in 1897, at an antiques fair and thought they were so handsome she just had to have them.  Later she decided she did not want to seperate the originals that came together on large sheets, so she had them reproduced and she decoupages them to pine disks she stains and stripes in black for a “Biedermeier’ look.

The original old chromolithographs were produced by Forster-Hoppe of Zeitz, Germany and come in 6 images and 2 sizes- perfect to hang in groupings or stand in a table easel.  Visit to see all of these and her distinctive antler mounts.