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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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BRING THE WILD INSIDE: The Angling Lifestyle

This time of year I turn my attention to cool streams, lazy lakes, sweet tea with mint and angling.  There is always a way to bring the joy of the wild inside – so be it FISH and The Angling Lifestyle!

I collect.

I save (part of the Heritage thing).

I fish.

I come from a long line of ‘savers’  (some may have been hoarders, but I am glad they were!)  Both sides of my family and my husband’s had places like farms and lake houses to save generations of goodies, and all sides loved the outdoors.  I never turned down anything or any opportunity to scour an attic or barn and be gifted (often with laughter at ‘that ole thing’) my finds!  I saved therefore, I collect.

 To save and cherish items that family have touched is a Southern thang!

I love to fish, especially fly fish.  My mate has made sure I have premier equipment- some of my favorites are my Sage 5 wt. and my San Miguel Reel.

You need not fish to enjoy it in your decor — if you have it use it – if you don’t, collect it!  It is soothing decor and it need not be expensive.

Shop flea markets, estate sales, thrift stores and your partners tackle (with permission).

The lamp is new.  The wicker shade makes a nice contrast with the rock wall and the scale of the net in the vintage fishing net, a gift from my best friend’s grandfather who used it in the 30’s &  40’s.  I found this old duck call at an estate sale (yes we have family one’s too) and decided it needed to accent the lamp shade like a finial would.  How about a colorful self hooking lure instead?

I collect.

 I collect antique wooden ice fishing decoys.  They are each tiny works of art as varied and individual as the carvers who made them: catfish with metal whiskers, a turtle and even a frog I have found.  The aged paint and sometimes whimsical nature made me display them on our coffee table ‘swimming’ toward an antique English bait bucket.  The lid is open and perfect for a green plant surrounded with spanish moss (please do a better job than I did covering the plastic pot!!)

We save.

Make an interesting display in your bookshelves, include family memorabilia and at least 3 fish related items.  Here we have a framed fish etching I did long ago, fishing books, a vintage creel* and a carved wooden crappie I painted as a gift for my husband.  You could also use a reel (doesn’t have to be old) and some colorful lures.  The old metal trade sign, German figural beer steins and antique fireman’s hat are all family relics.  *CREEL – If you recall my Post BRING THE WILD INSIDE – Christmas   I filled a creel with red poinsettia and another with red berries, feathers and greenery.  For summer try some silk or real yellow and white daisies for a picnic feel inside.

Don’t overlook the tops of cabinets for display space.

I think a bit of the outdoors makes the indoors more fun!  How about this carved bass nestled with greenery and old duck decoys (use your current decoys-it is out of season) atop a cabinet filled with gleaming silver?   Again, the contrast makes things interesting – like wearing denim and pearls!   The bookcase is an early Texas piece by Otto Brinkman of Comfort, Tx.  My grandmother saw it for sale in 1936 and purchased it for $45.00 and saved & loved it all these years – just as I do.  (See where I get it?)   How about a fishing trophy made out of paper?  GirlHunter  author & cook, Georgia Pelligrini told me about this new store on her blog.  Red    New and vintage  China  have an abundance of fishing themes in plates and platters that not only make a pretty dinner table, but make a wonderful display alone, on a stand in a bookcase or countertop  or hanging on the wall!

Dinnerware by Portmerion  and Red Cabin Pottery ( made in Texas!).

You always have room for a pillow or two – bring the wild inside with color and rich trims, velvets, and suedes.  I handpaint each one on lambskin using different techniques and metallics – then I finish by hand sewing into pillows.  Each one is unique.  The fine leather gives a great texture that mimic the fish skins.  These are available now and will be featured on my new updated website.

My hand painted tin rainbow by Stephanie Woolley of Tailwater Gallery and Flyshop in Taos, NM.
I save, I collect……and I fish.

Here I sit on my vintage 60’s Water Wagon, originally made in Amarillo, Tx!

Be it old or new—–find it, fish it but by all means


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Fresh Water Fish grace Vintage Door

I recently finished painting a 1920’s door with fresh water fish for our 81 year old neighbor at Medina Lake.  He had seen our 1920’s door I painted for my husband for Father’s Day and wanted one too. Our families both built little fishing cabins at the lake around 1926.

Father’s Day door I painted – note the bullet hole in upper right!

Our door is complete with a bullet hole in the upper right hand corner that I thought should be left!  The shooting took place well before 1950.  In the early 30’s my husband’s grandmother shot a deer through the window!


Our neighbor with his ‘new’ – vintage door


Black Bass detail.


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Fishing the San Marcos – May 2011

The first of May found Heritage Game Mounts fishing a day on the San Marcos river with guide and new friend, Kevin Hutchison of Hill Country Flyfishers,  It was a truly beautiful day as I fished a Llano Bug on top while Skip chose a Swamp Monster sub surface, all tied by Kevin.

The San Marcos River, Texas

We caught the pugnacious Redbreasted sunfish, many Guadalupe bass and a large mouth.  Kevin’s brand new inflatable raft was super comfy and roomy.  The 10 1/2 hour trip was over before we knew it.  A wonderful lunch was set up streamside, with everything one could need for an elegant riparian feast, including the tablecloth!  Kevin takes pride in preparing himself our lunch of grilled chicken bacon pasta salad, Hummas with grilled jalapenos, fresh fruit and brownies.

Kevin sets us up in style & comfort
A perfect setting for a delicious homemade lunch
What I came for!