Well, it’s official, swimming and floating at the Austin spot known locally as “Secret Beach” is now illegal. For years locals have hung out at the long gravel bar below Longhorn dam and found respite from the intense summers in the cool waters of the Colorado. Now the City of Austin has deemed it to dangerous due to fluctuating waters coming off the dam that helps form Town Lake in the heart of Austin.
What does this mean for urban anglers in Austin?
1) If the wording is applied like it is elsewhere around Austin then “swimming” includes “wading” which means that a lot of great fishing within the city limits just vanished for a lot of local anglers that don’t have a boat. For those that do, kayaks can be used, but plan on a lot of dragging to get them to the water, or alternatively putting in below the 183 bridge and paddling the mile and a half up river to access the dam’s area.
2) With the “Beach” being a local hangout for a lot of revelers to cool off, it’s likely that they will simply move the party to the next closest spot. Unfortunately that spot is likely to be Barton Creek which has already become inundated over the last few years with partiers that treat the creek like a parking lot, leaving absurd amounts of trash in their wake. (To those folks i suggest Schlitterbahn, where they have loud / bad music and lots of beer, plus it has “litter” in the name, so you’re sure to like it!)
3) Ultimately, if you never fished the “Beach” during a hot summer weekend day, it means you missed the carnival. Hiking along the bank could involve running into everything from pale hipsters floating by on handmade rafts to nude individuals high on psychedelics (or meth) partying like refugees from last years Burning Man. The crowds might have been annoying at times, but it was never boring.
Regardless, the city has sent it’s message…
“You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.”
P.S. If anybody has any experience with the new law and it’s enforcement, please leave comments to fill your fellow Austin anglers in.