I was listening to the Gourds cover of Snoop Dogg’s Gin & Juice as I wrote this post.
Unfortunately Friday’s weather did not follow into Saturday. The day was cold, blustery, and overcast. I drove up the road that runs along the Guadalupe until I came to the Lazy L campground, site of GRTU’s Troutfest. Pulled in the gravel lot and was directed by volunteers where to park.
Cutting across the field towards the event tents, I saw many of the vendors with outdoor booths struggling to keep it all on the ground. The wind was howling and extra hands and weight were needed to hold everything in place. It didn’t help that temps were in the 40’s, even lower with wind chill.
Despite the weather, the event was outstanding. The speaker lineup, which ranged from local guides to nationally known flyfishing personalities, kept attendees in the presenter hall for most of the day.
The fly tyers booth was relatively small compared to other shows, but what it lacked in size, it made up for in quality. The tyers covered, trout, bass, saltwater, panfish and other species. They were very open to questions and happy to share knowledge and tips.
The main exhibition hall carried the usual suspects of brands, outfitters and organizations. The longest line was to buy GRTU swag, which speaks to the strength of the organization and the event.
Outside, the midway was filled with vendors showcasing products ranging from camping gear and rafts to home furnishings and distilled spirits. A few broke out portable firepits to help deal with the cold.
Before leaving Connecticut, I bought a ticket to the sold-out 2024 Fly Fishing Film Festival, aka IF4. As in past years, it was a series of short films, covering bonefish, the amazon (river not the company), western waters, and even a story about a car with flyfishing history. GRTU provided dinner and drinks, a nice touch and helped round out the night. And, as an added surprise, my ticket was the first called in the pre-show raffle. Won a nice pair of Smith Optics sunglasses. Not bad.
I returned briefly for the Sunday session. The weather was better and crowds thinner. I mainly came back to see a panel talk by George Daniel, Pat Dorsey and Landon Mayer. If you don’t know these names, click the links. They are all flyfishing experts, with differing perspectives on how to get fish to hand.
Growing up, I visited Texas frequently on family vacations. Big Red was a staple on those trips. Nice to see it’s still around.
This event was well organized and worth the visit, despite the weather. While Texas may not be your first thought when it comes to trout, put this one on your list. You won’t be disappointed. Enjoy!