Special TOWA edition

Larry Bozka, John Thompson, Shannon Tompkins, Steve Lightfoot and John Jefferson

Blue Note Café, Memphis airport-The sailor thanked me for the coffee as he firmly shook my hand. “It’s the least I can do for you” I replied as he gathered his bags for his flight home. The gentleman across the table said “You got his so I’ll buy his” as he pointed to a soldier seated nearby. Proof, that gratitude is contagious.

A stiff breeze blew across the strip as the Canadair jet touched down in San Antonio. Larry Bozka picked me up and we were on our way to the TOWA conference. (Texas Outdoor Writer Association) This year’s location was in the heart of Texas hill country, Kerrville.

We were greeted by fellow members as we made our way into the spacious lobby of the YO Ranch Hotel. After settling in, we attended an evening mixer featuring wild game snacks and great fellowship. Later, I hosted a dinner for the group I call the “Texas Posse”. These sage characters include; Steve Lightfoot, Susan Ebert, Shannon Tompkins, Mark Mantel and Bozka. Their stories were easily worth the price of the meal.

The following day featured a fine lunch followed by the “Breakout”. This event gives writers a chance to visit sponsor tables to see what’s new. A casting contest at the pool was conducted after breakout. Avid angler and writer David Sikes, bagged first place.

After a day of catching up on e-mail, I attended the excellence in craft banquet. Mr. John Thompson won the L.A. Wilke award, TOWA’s highest honor. Bozka purchased a beautiful Gerald Burleigh print for me at the silent auction. The underwater photo featured a Crappie with a Road Runner in its mouth. (Thanks Boz)

That evening, Kendall Hemphill and Bozka broke out their guitars. The gang sang along to Boz’s original “The Outdoor Writer’s Song” and several Robert Earl Keen tunes.

We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast the next day with some fellow TOWA members. Later, Boz and I made our way to the banks of the Guadalupe River to cast a few Black Salty Baits. But the winds were gusting up the river and we quickly repacked our gear for a better day.

Bozka drove his Explorer deeper into the hill country to admire the scenery. We spotted three Axis Deer grazing along a tree line, a first for me. The hills, flora and waters were mesmerizing to this old Florida flat-lander. I’ve made a promise to myself to return to Kerrville and to fish the Guadalupe in earnest.

Another TOWA conference is in the books. The members left with some story ideas and memories of the fellowship that is the heart of the Texas Outdoor Writers Association.

Blessings, -TJ

About TJ Stallings

45-year tackle industry veteran Marketing and Crazy Ideas at TTI-Blakemore Fishing Group (Home of Road Runner Lures and six hook brands including Tru-Turn, Daiichi, XPoint, Team Catfish, Mr. Crappie and StandOUT Hooks.) Home of Gun Protect. The opinions expressed in this blog are those of TJ Stallings and not necessarily those of TTI-Blakemore.
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7 Responses to Special TOWA edition

  1. Larry Bozka says:

    What a great time!

    The TOWA meeting always affords some wonderful professional interaction, meeting with editors and super-knowledgeable industry insiders and experts like you (how do people think we get our better story ideas, after all? … We ain’t all that smart:-)

    Still, as I get older I realize it is just as much about the opportunity to see old friends and make new ones, to have a brief and precious chance to swap tales and even wet lines (even if the weather is awful) with very special people in a very special business.

    Thank you, my friend, for doing so much to make this particular TOWA confab one that I will always recall with the fondest of memories.

    We shall smote them with the Black Salty ASAP. I’m figuring a Small-Size Salty rigged on the hook of a chunky-sized SaltRunner (instead of a curly-tail) and bump-trolled ought to be just the ticket for some of those big stripers you mentioned. Name the place and time, amigo!

    Best always, T.J., and from both Yours Truly and everyone in the Texas Outdoor Writers Association, our sincere thanks for everything you do to keep us old dinosaurs from going extinct …


  2. David Sikes says:

    Damn TJ, I wish I had known about the Texas Posse. Sounds entertaining. Thanks for all you do for TOWA.

  3. Lisa Snuggs says:

    Sure hate I missed the TOWA conference this year. I went to one in Kerrville back in the dark ages and it was great fun!

  4. kerrvilletx says:

    TJ, thanks for the great write-up – good to hear from several of you that you enjoyed Kerrville.
    We sure enjoyed having you back!

    Nancy at Kerrville Convention & Visitors Bureau

  5. Don Gasaway says:

    TJ, As always it was good to see you again. I see that you had just about the same luck fishing for bass after TOWA as I did the day before it started. NONE.

    I love Kerrvile and have been going there every once in a while since 1967. Gosh I am getting old!

    Did they say where we are going next year? If they did I missed it.

    Don Gasaway

  6. It is always great to rekindle old relationships and make new ones . And just relax and enjoy the bonds of year gone by.

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