Texas is known for a lot of things, barbecue, cowboys, breakfast tacos and divisive political agendas being at the top of the list. What it is NOT known for is its amazing network of creeks, streams, and rivers that play host to a vast array of warm water species, everything from palm-sized sunfish to catfish, carp, and gar so big you’ll probably want to pack an extra set of underwear should you be lucky enough to hook one. Unfortunately, it is also an incredibly fickle fishery that is either boom or bust depending on the weather patterns, where they hit, and your willingness to research ahead of time and lay out the best course.

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been fortunate enough to fish with my good friend Nate and somehow time it so that we’ve had epic days on both Bull Creek and Barton Creek. Recent rains have flooded so much of the central Texas area that bigger waters have been out of the question and will likely be for weeks to come, but luckily the smaller creeks are able to bounce back despite the intense flooding they experienced just weeks ago.

Bull Creek was the first one we fished two weeks ago when flows were about 125 CFS (Currently 20 CFS) and all other surrounding waterways looked like chocolate milk. The day was cool and wet when we set foot on the trail around 11 AM but it felt good despite the overcast sky. After navigating the muddy trails soaked by recent rains we made it to the creek only to have the skies part and present us with one of the most beautiful and epic days either one of us has experienced.

It is no exaggeration to say that for a few hours there Nate and I were getting fish on every other cast using just a rubber spider (Nate) and a white wooly bugger (me). Pools that in years past were knee deep were found to be chest high and I can honestly say that the intensity of all the greenery and the rapid flow of water made me feel like I was sight fishing in some remote jungle a few thousand miles from Austin.

A week later we hit up my beloved Barton Creek and were shocked to find that the water levels were still around 250 CFS (currently 150 CFS) which turned out to make wade fishing Barton Creek extremely difficult, to put it mildly, with normally knee-high pools now neck high and mostly unwadable.

Fortunately, as far as the fishing Goes it was more if the same, eager sunfish and a few gullible basses. Before landing the huge sunfish in the title bar photo above, I found myself hooked into a four-inch sunfish that fought well until I slipped on the incredibly muddy bank. I ended up falling on my ass bone HARD in one foot of water where I sat trying to collect my thoughts on what just happened and the immense amount of pain I was suddenly feeling in my tailbone. It was then that I looked over to my right in time to see a massive explosion happen in 6 inches of water just three feet to my right. Apparently, the sunfish I had hooked became the immediate prey of an easily 5 lb. bass that suddenly was dragging my line 30 yards upstream in an epic battle. In all the commotion I somehow thought that I had managed to hook the huge bass, but as I brought it close to the net it basically gave me a sidewise glance, opened its mouth, released the now dead sunfish and swam off to the far side of the pool likely cursing me for robbing it of its supper.

If you’re only willing to scale it down a bit there are epic days to be had right now all within the Austin city limits, it’s just going to require a little change in perception and equipment to squeeze the maximum amount of joy out it. So grab your lightest rod, a good friend, some small flies and your favorite beverage and get out there and enjoy some of the best small water fishing that Austin can offer. Just be sure to go sooner than later, because if there is anything we can be sure of here in Texas it’s that our access to water flows such as these is entirely uncertain.

Photos of dF by Nathan Peck on Instagram @theurbanfly