Please don’t eat the carrots

When you think of solo white water canoeing, you probably picture a well muscled, excited young man or woman, early twenties, wearing a helmet and life jacket, splashing through a huge set of rapids, paddling like nobody’s business. White water canoeing is considered one of those extreme sports, indulged in mainly by the kids who make those Mountain Dew commercials, the kind of kids you see wearing T-shirts that say things like “If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space.” Hold that picture of the white water canoeist, but take out the young person in the canoe and insert an image of your mother. Or, if you’re under twenty, your grandmother. The person in the canoe now, catching eddys and riding the waves, is Nancy Burns, one of the most interesting people I’ve ever met. Nancy is a member of a San Antonio canoeing club, and will be one of the instructors at the Texas Fly Fishing Show at Aquarina Springs in San Marcos on May 20 and 21. In her sixties, Nancy actually is a grandmother, and has been canoeing for, well, for a long time. She’ll be teaching a Beginning Basic Canoeing class, which she’s been doing at the show for at least three years now. I sat in on her class a couple of years ago, just to see what a canoeing class would look like, and was surprised at how much I learned. Nancy has probably forgotten more about canoeing than I’ll ever know. So I hung around after class and introduced myself, and ended up learning even more. Canoes, for instance, often develop holes. This is a Bad Thing. You don’t want a hole in your canoe, because then the water can get in. So when you frequent rivers such as the Llano, which contains a great many rocks, you need to know how to patch holes. Duct tape works fairly well, but comes off after a while. It will stay on longer, however, if you squirt a little lighter fluid around the hole, light it and let it burn for a second or two, wipe it off, and apply the duct tape. The heat makes the tape adhere to the boat much better than it would if applied cold. Nancy told me that she once managed to hole her canoe a couple of hours into a two day boat trip. She had forgotten to bring anything to patch it with, and ended up carving a raw carrot to the desired size and poking it in the hole, and then chinking around it with chewing gum. Worked like a charm. Shortly after visiting with Nancy I met Patti Carouthers, who teaches several different kayaking classes at the show, including Kayaking for Adults, Kayaking for Women, Kayaking for Kids, Kayaking for Klingons, and Kayak Fishing Techniques. Patti is a youngster about my age, and is definitely an expert kayaker. If you’re the least bit interested in kayaks, Patti is the lady to see. Paul Canada, who tried to get me to goose one of Governor Bush’s bodyguards at the opening of the Bass Pro Shops in Dallas, will also be at the show. Paul is a tall fellow, about five feet, six or seven inches (my wife gets upset when I say that Paul is vertically challenged). He once got himself locked in a rod locker at a bass tournament. Paul is one of the few people I know who is actually a full time freelance outdoor journalist, and he’s one of the best. He will be teaching a class on Fly Fishing Texas Reservoirs at this year’s show at Aquarina Springs. Paul has been fishing for over twenty years, and his wife, I understand, is getting pretty tired of it. For you women who are interested in fly fishing, but are uncomfortable trying to learn from a man, Raye Carrington will be teaching a couple of classes just for you, Beginning and Intermediate Fly Casting For Women. She will also be teaching a class on Fly Fishing the Llano River, which she is an absolute expert on, since she lives within rock chunking distance of the Llano, and fishes it as often as possible. Raye also has a Bed & Breakfast operation at her home, and is one of the most dignified people I’ve ever known. For tips on Walk-in Fly Fishing Options on the Texas Coast, Phil Shook is your man. Phil lives in Houston, and has written several books about fly fishing. His class will include a slide show detailing locations and techniques for fly fishing on the coast. From personal experience I can attest that, with very little urging (if you stand still) Phil will also relate the details of his recent tarpon fly fishing trip to Costa Rica. He has pictures of himself on that trip holding fish that look like they eat humans. Other classes at the Texas Fly Fishing Show include rod building, dutch oven cooking, knot tying, choosing a canoe or a kayak, and how to build a stitch and glue canoe. The instructors are some of the nicest, most knowledgeable people involved in the outdoors today. Besides the classes, the show hosts vendors from every aspect of the outdoor spectrum. Ed and Mary Woodruff, of Southwest Canoes and Kayaks, will probably be there, displaying their Cobra sit-on-top kayaks and Merrimack canoes, along with a good many other boat dealers. Visitors are invited to take the boats out on the water and paddle them around a while, which is a huge help if you’re thinking about buying a boat. There are also displays of rods and reels, outdoor clothing, flies and lures, tackle boxes, and just about everything else you can think of that you might need for fly fishing, and a few things you probably haven’t. You may even find an item or two you’ve never heard of. Last year I picked up a couple of Flexi-Flasks, made by Temple Fork Outfitters, which are handy, plastic water containers which can be frozen, or boiled in a microwave, and stand up to abuse extremely well. I’ve used them on trips from Colorado to Mexico, and have yet to have one leak on me. Of course, if I do, I can always patch it with a carrot and some chewing gum. Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist who has never, to date, hooked himself in the ear with a fly hook. Write to him at PO Box 564, Mason, Texas 76856 or For more information about the 2000 Texas Fly Fishing Show call 800-964-6920, or go to www.pico

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