By Will Rizzo | Photos by Nick Kelley
For the last decade, Alvin Dedeaux has been in near constant motion, moving between Texas’ central coast and the Hill Country’s rivers, working a schedule determined by clients, seasons, winds, and tides.
When Stonefly reached Dedeaux, he was back in Austin from guiding on the flats, a trip he makes enough to have put 130,000 miles on his Toyota in three years. “My wife, Lenée, and I run All Water Guides and she cuts me off after booking 250 trips,” he says.
It was a rare afternoon when Dedeaux wasn’t poling his Hell’s Bay off Port Aransas or guiding clients on the Colorado River and was home to return emails and maintain the five guide boats he keeps in his backyard (the skiff is parked on the coast). We talked about his previous life as a musician touring with bands like Fugazi and Nirvana, Austin’s early fly-fishing scene and the incredible urban fishery downstream of the city.
Dedeaux: His Upbringing
My upbringing definitely had something to do with why I guide. I knew I didn’t want to work for anyone, and I knew I wanted to be outdoors. I don’t think I could’ve done anything else.
I grew up in Houston, which isn’t a place you think of for hunting and fishing, but when I was there, we kind of lived on the edge of civilization. As a kid, I was able to jump over the fence behind my parents’ house with a fishing rod or shotgun and have at it.
Dedeaux’s Funk Band
I came to Austin to go to UT and got into the music scene from the mid-’80s to early ’90s. It was also when my fly-fishing career took off. Bad Mutha Goose and the Brothers Grimm was a straight-up ’70s-style funk band. If you saw us with the music turned down, you’d probably have thought we were a punk band. It was a wild stage show.
We were pretty lucky, Austin had a booming music scene even back then. The band was pretty successful and we were able to quit our day jobs, which is the dream of every struggling musician. We played with the Neville Brothers. I shared a mic with Afrika Bambaataa, from the proto hip-hop scene. Fugazi opened for us on a bunch of gigs. We went to the Bay Area and played with Primus. On another tour there, Nirvana was our opening band. Crazy.
Balancing Two Lives: Fisherman and Musician
It allowed me to do a lot of fishing. Unless we were on tour, we only played on the weekends. I’d leave a gig on a Saturday night and everyone else would head home to practice and I’d drive to New Mexico or Colorado. I’d fish all week and meet the band at the next gig on the following Friday.
I worked at the Austin Angler for 10 or 12 years, beginning in the mid-’90s after I’d gotten out of music. It was a pretty magical place. The shop was in downtown Austin, on Congress Street, upstairs above a Mexican restaurant, Manuel’s. When they first opened, it was still a sketchy part of town. There was a punk rock bar on one side and across the street there were wino bars and a Greyhound bus station. People came from all over for that shop. It was hard to find but it was full-on.
JT Van Zant worked there with me. Joey Lin, who runs the Northern Patagonia Fishing Club, was also there. Dave Mangum was a customer and hung out at the shop. Dave and I spent a lot of time on the coast, running a beat-up little skiff we had at the time. Dave was working at a bar and would get off work at 3 a.m. and show up at my house. Then we’d drive to the coast, fish all day and then drive straight back. It was pretty hardcore.
Alvin’s Discovery of Guiding
I discovered guiding almost by accident. A few of us started guiding out of the shop a few days a week, and when the Austin Angler shut down in 2004, I decided to keep doing it.
The Colorado River runs through downtown, it’s the heart of central Texas. It’s the longest river in the state, about 800 miles. Even downstream of Austin, where there’s a million people, I can drive 20 minutes, hit the water, fish 10 miles of river, and not see another boat all day.
As soon you get past the last dam, which is almost in downtown Austin, it’s pretty much no-man’s land.
The river has clear water, which is rare for Texas. It looks like a trout stream in places.
We have the state fish there, the Guadeloupe bass, and largemouth up to 10 or 11 pounds. It’s a pretty amazing fishery.
The Texas Fishery
Part of being an urban fly-fishing guide and working on the Texas coast is being able to show
people the wild stuff right in their backyard, which is pretty cool.
My goal is to find a way to catch redfish and bass during the same day. It would depend on the time of year, tides, and winds. Get up early on the coast, catch some redfish, then park the skiff, hop in the truck, and drive up to Austin. Then jump in the jet boat, get on the river, and catch some bass.
I haven’t done it yet but it’s in the works. Might make a great film.
This content was sponsored by Oskar Blues, and this article originally appeared in the 2020 edition of Stonefly Magazine.