Ladies and gentleman. My fellow anglers, there is a hint of optimism blowing on the breeze here in the Texas Hill Country. Though the rivers and creeks may be drier than British comedy, and the heat is still so bad that simply getting down into the “double digits” is cause for celebration, there never the less seems to be a glimmer of fall just around the corner. It’s possible that it’s just quiet desperation on my part, but it seems that the sun is starting to take itself a little less seriously in the evening, throwing in some softer tones to make everything around start to glow in fall colors.
This of course doesn’t mean that summer is over by any stretch of the imagination, it’s just that somedays, especially around sunset, one might have the faintest sense that “this too shall pass” as many things have before.
Mueller airport, located here in the heart of Austin is a prime example of this age old axiom. At one time the Mueller airport was the bustling hub of Austin, a facility that was sure to take this town into the future. Not only was it THE Austin airport for close to 70 years, it was also the poster boy for the new fangled “Jet Age” once the facilities were upgraded in 1961 with the construction of the new control tower (above photo) and the dedication by then Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson.
It’s use as an airport is long over, but the airport is undergoing a new life, that of a mixed use community hoping to make it’s mark as a sign of what inner city redevelopment could be. While this is great news for the Mueller community, and Austin in general, for you and i there is one interesting piece of this redevelopment that really ties the room together.
There is a lake. And in this lake, there are fish.
Over the years i’ve heard about the amazing fishing here, and with the flows on my favorite local waters at a stagnant zero CFS, i finally had the excuse i needed to check out this urban fishery. Truth be told, i wasn’t expecting anything more than a ditch with water (the typical urban pond), so when i crested the hill and saw the urban park from the future, with cutting edge facilities, trees providing ample shade, and a large pond (i know they call it a lake, but that’s probably being a little too generous) with large sections of the bankside blanketed in vegetation i had that overwhelming sense that i was walking into a possible urban fishing goldmine.
Probably the biggest shock of all though, was that unlike most of the waters around Austin, the lake is catch and release (photo above). Ideally this would mean that all fish are returned to the water without harm, swimming off to be caught again. Unfortunately, as i’ve witnessed multiple times, that simply isn’t the case. They’re returned, but usually after flopping on concrete for a while and being kept out of the water for minutes instead of seconds. Still, at least the signs were up to try and encourage good stewardship. If nothing else, at least they’re acknowledging that they expect and welcome angling which in and of itself accounts for something.
If you plan on fishing here, be forewarned, while there may not be any cops or angry landowners to chase you off, there are lots of children…lots and lots of them. Furthermore, every one of them is fascinated by folks like you and i that might be trying to ply the waters in peace, and they’re not afraid to break social convention by standing close, wiping their nose on your shirt tail, and asking you every question that pops into their little child heads. If you appreciate your space, i recommend hitting the pond early in the morning on a weekday, possibly on your commute to work to avoid the crowds, and inevitable questions.
Although it took a couple of hours (during which time i saw a nine year old land a three pound bass on a spin rod) i eventually tied into the fish below. Despite having heard of others successes here over the years, it felt good to have my own evidence that this spot held water and biting fish, even as the local creeks are drying up and feeling more like warm soup than freshwater. Maybe the rainy month they’ve been promising for years will in fact come, and i can return to my home waters on Barton/Onion creek. If not, at least i know a good spot that’s guaranteed to have water, fish, food trucks and a clean bathroom.
Here’s to progress!