Getting Muddy with Friends

I recently received an advance copy of the forthcoming book, Fly Fishing Houston & Southeastern Texas. It looks great and I’m excited to share it with the fly fishing community in Houston. You can grab a copy for yourself on February 7, 2023, wherever fine books are sold.

While flipping through the pages, I was reminded of the extraordinary community of freshwater fly anglers who helped make this project a reality. I’m so grateful for the local anglers who were ready and willing to explore the numerous freshwater environments with me. We covered everything from the local Pineywoods creeks, to gator-infested swamps, to urban ditches. Having an adventurous community of fly anglers really made this project a lot of fun.

Joe Mills makes a cast to a grass carp in one of Houston’s urban waterways

I particularly enjoyed meeting and fishing with fly anglers who have a special connection with certain types of waterways or certain styles of fishing. I consider these long rodders to be local experts when it comes to specific waterways and targeting the fish that swim in them. For instance, there are anglers who love the challenge of sneaking along urban ditches looking for various carp species. These guys relish the days when carp are feeding on topwater, or mudding along a shallow bank, tails and backs protruding from the water.

There are other anglers who prefer fishing stillwater in one of the region’s lakes or ponds. These fly fishermen are crazy for largemouth bass and they will hit the early-morning bite, bright eyed and bushy tailed, armed with 7-weight rods and a pocket full of poppers. These lacustrine-loving anglers, aren’t shy about coaxing the occasional bowfin or gar into scarfing down a bunny leech either, should the opportunity arise.

Trey Alvarez releases a bowfin

Then there are those who enjoy lacing up the hiking boots, filling backpacks with water and snacks, and heading into the dense forests of the Pineywoods region. These blueliners, are smitten by the exploratory aspect of ultralight creek fishing. They are in search of various species of plucky panfish and spirited spotted bass. It could be said that the real catch for many of these anglers is the feeling of tranquility and solitude, as well as the discovery of the natural world around each and every creek bend.

Jose Mata plays a spotted bass in a Pineywoods creek

Over the past two years, while writing this book, I’ve had the pleasure of fishing with all types of anglers. Without the valuable input from the local fly fishing community, this project wouldn’t have come to fruition. While you peruse these pages, you will see pictures of many different anglers. All of them taught me a great deal about the various warmwater environments around Houston. It was an honor and a pleasure getting to know these anglers and learning something new from each of them.

I’ve made some great friends while exploring and fishing the waterways of Houston. The adventurous Houston fly fisher doesn’t shy away from soggy weather, nor muddy backwaters, nor a swarm of mosquitoes; they are on the water, patrolling the swamps for some oddball fish to check off their species list.

Joey Ramirez fishing for largemouth bass

I’d like to extend my sincerest thanks to the following anglers for fishing with me while working on this book: Jack Boyd, Stavros Cotsoradis, Liam Smith, Joe Mills, Danny Scarborough, Mark Marmon, Joey Ramirez, Trey Alvarez, Nick Heaverlo, Tanya Xu, Zach Wallace, Travis Richards, Xavier Jaime, Jose Mata, Stephen Lonon, and Alan Antonson. I really appreciate the time you all spent with me and your willingness to go exploring with me. I learned something from each of you over these past two years. All of you guys helped with the creation of this book. Thank you.

Look for Fly Fishing Houston and Southeastern Texas to hit the shelves February 7th 2023. The book is available as a paperback and as an e-book and can be pre-purchased now from any online book retailer.

See you on the water.

Robert McConnell

Robert McConnell

Robert H. McConnell was born and raised in Western Pennsylvania. It was in the shadow of the Allegheny Mountains where he developed an affinity for fishing and the outdoors. At college, Robert pursued a degree in geology, which was one of the only classes that offered frequent field trips to the great outdoors. After graduating, Robert began a career in the oil and gas industry, which brought him to the wilds of northern Pennsylvania. He began fly fishing in earnest after discovering the joys of hiking into remote freestone streams in pursuit of native brook trout. Spring and summer weekends were spent exploring the vast network of streams and rivers along the Northern Tier of Pennsylvania. In 2014, Robert and his wife, Ellen, moved from their home in rural Pennsylvania to the bustling city of Houston, Texas, the “Energy Capital of the World,” where they reside today. Robert continues his passion for fly fishing, but instead of chasing native brook trout, he now pursues the multitude of warmwater fish species that live in the surrounding waterways of Houston, Texas. Robert especially enjoys exploring the more remote waterways, including those found in the Pineywoods of East Texas.

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