Okay, as a human being that has suffered through over a decade of mind melting summers here in central Texas, i am surely not going to complain about the cool weather that we are STILL experiencing in mid April. However, while i appreciate the cool air and the opportunity it provides to make use of most of my wardrobe, this hot / cold dynamic is making for sporadic fishing at best. Still, it has been a relief just to get back out onto some seldom walked trails, framed in splashes of color, courtesy of the wildflowers and budding bald cypress.
Unfortunately, as you’ve surely heard, the water situation is much the same as it has been the last few years around central Texas, low and dry. Unless we get some consistent heavy rains things are not looking good for this summer, with both Barton Creek and the Pedernales River are currently looking anything but confident as the imminent heat looms. Still, there are fish to be had, it’s just a matter of waiting to see if they all wake up and start dancing when the weather finally stops swaying back and forth between the extremes which have been the norm lately.
Before you head out to wander around with a rod in hand, know that what fish are still around in these clear shallow waters are sharp as tacks. I was reminded of this recently when i spent a good part of my day on Barton Creek. After hooking and losing a three pound specimen below the trickling falls at the top of the run, i proceeded to have him hover near me for the next couple of hours. Sitting just a few feet ahead and to the left of me, he would linger there, staring with contempt as i cast for his fellow neighbors. As soon as one of his fellow fish showed interest in my fly, he would dart over like the Flash and chase them off, likely informing them that there was an angler of ill repute in the water, and that it would be best if they holed up under a log somewhere. Much to my chagrin, this game went on for hours as i methodically worked my way hundreds of yards down the pool, “annoying” is a word that comes to mind.
A week later, an outing at Pedernales proved that the “tricky” factor isn’t limited to the waters of central Austin. Water levels on the Pedernales are some of the lowest i’ve ever seen in years, at least this early in the season. What fish were there were flighty as could be, hauling ass at the faintest sight of a straw hats brim.
They are there for sure, you’re just going to have to work extra hard to make sure that they don’t know that you are there. If you must hit this stretch of wonder (i often feel compelled to myself), i offer the following tips; sparsely tied flies, a sinking leader, the lightest tippet you can get away with and the stalking patience of a great blue heron.
So, they’re tricky, it’s tough, and the odds seemed stacked against us. But then again, if we didn’t enjoy betting against the house, we’d probably be fishing with bait on a lake. I for one would rather wear myself out while trying to work a handful of magic out of these familiar waters, then spend my time trolling hardware behind an Evinrude. I’m guessing that if you’re reading this, you can likely relate.
Anyway, they’re starting to move, so get out there now and reacquaint yourself with those overgrown forks in the trail, follow them until the greenery seems to swallow the trail whole. Pause and make sure nobody is behind you, then plow into the thick of it, and continue until you spill out on to your favorite spot.
Oh, and don’t forget, stay low my friend.