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Category Archive:   Texas Creeks


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

New feature: For days of adventure that don’t quite end in a story but deserve to be shared to help our fellow anglers we now present Field Notes.

04/28/19  Barton Creek – Austin, TX:  This spring has been one of the wettest seasons I can recall, with more slow consistent rain and in turn less flooding and more reliable flows. For me personally this has meant an at least once a week visit over the last few weeks (even if for just a few hours) to Barton Creek to try to keep a finger on the pulse of my favorite local fishery as it’s been up and down for months as storm after storm has blown through.

This last Sunday the flows were a mellow but refreshing 50 CFS when I contacted my wife to see if she’d like to enjoy a picnic together along the creek bed in a spot that I’d recently come to love. Fortunately she said yes but informed me it would be about an hour before she was there and that I should fish until then.

I hiked in from the Lost Creek crossing, working my way down past the crowds until the trail dropped me into the creek and onto untold bounty. I was wielding my trusty 7’6″ Winston Nexus and a small selection of wooly buggers and micro poppers, casting them against the bank, into the shadows and coaxing forth fish to a ridiculous degree.

If you don’t mind scaling things down to accommodate the smaller fish, days like this can be amazing fighting hand-sized fish on 2WT rigs that accentuate every strike and run with aplomb.

The fishing was small but fun and furious and didn’t let up until it was time to head back upstream and meet my wife. As much fun as the fishing was, it paled in comparison to getting to share a very special spot on Barton Creek with my wife and one of the excellent picnics that she seems to whip up almost effortlessly. Hell, I even won the (almost always) close game of cribbage we played. Suffice to say it was a good day, but it’s generally hard to have a bad one on Barton Creek.

Update: I wrote this post yesterday when the creek was at 50 CFS and tonight ANOTHER storm came through and Barton Creek is currently at 4,500 CFS. Be smart and be careful, wait until the flows have lowered to venture out!

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As a long time artist of sorts (music and visual design) i spend a lot of time obsessing every aspect of this blog, whether it’s a photo, text, video, story, etc. which accounts for the days between adventures and their posts.

There are times however when even i realize that time is of the essence and that this propensity to overthink things can get in the way of you reading about it and heading out to make your own story. Sometimes, time is of the essence.

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Case in point, Barton Creek right here in the town of Austin that i call home. If you live around here, fly fish and have never been to Barton Creek, YOU MUST GO NOW! I’ve been fishing this immaculate stretch of water for almost a decade now and i have NEVER seen it as beautiful and fishy as it is right now.

  • Personally i use a 7’6″ 3WT, but a 4 or 5 WT wouldn’t be inappropriate.
  • For sunfish and largemouth bass, use poppers in the slower pools against the banks.
  • For Guadalupe bass hit the faster waters, especially those with larger rocks breaking up the current, and get down deep. You likely won’t see them down there until they dart up for your fly, so try for them even if you don’t see them.
  • Floods have completely moved the fish around and changed the structure of the creek, so try places you haven’t before. As an example, i’ve been fishing between Twin Falls and Sculpture Falls (dry as a bone for years) and have been landing double digits on a regular basis.
  • Most of the fish will be on the smallish size, but there are some big bruisers out there in the three pound range, so don’t forget to bring a couple huge flies just in case.

Boom! There you go!

Now get out there and make your own story!

Please share your story in the comments!

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It happens every year around this time, the previously dormant Barton Creek slowly comes alive again. Multi hued sunfish are once again seen striking the surface for any available morsel and active bass looking to put on  a few calories can be seen lurking in the shadows ready to ambush any protein that unknowingly passes by.

Not coincidentally, this is the time of year that i find myself once again making my way up and down the many dirt paths and waterways of Barton Creek that i’ve come to know intimately over the years. There is something about spending so many hundreds (thousands?) of hours together that pulls me towards looking at this waterway more as a good friend with whom i’ve shared deep and intimate secrets, rather than a simple ditch pulling and pushing flows through it.

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Over the last week i’ve been fortunate enough to spend a lot of time around and in this liquid temple and have been lucky enough to see these vivid waters start to flex again for the first time in months.

Some of the things i’ve learned in the last few days are;

  1. Sunfish are starting to hit the surface, small poppers kill it.
  2. Bigger bass are digging deep sinking streamers, they aren’t hitting surface flies yet.
  3. With last years floods much of these fishes plant shelter are gone, making the banks much more likely holding spots than the middle of the creek.
  4. There are significantly less consolidated fish post floods of 2015 than there were the last five or so years.
  5. They are far more scattered (due to the floods) than they have been in the past few years. Reports of bass from Lost Creek all the way down to Barton Springs Pool have been continuously coming in.

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The ARE there, they’re just a little more difficult to find now that they have such a huge canvas of water to cover with their eclectic and iridescent mix of laser light colors.

A light rod, a variety of flies, and a curious nature will open up an entire world along these waters if you let it. Sure they’re tight quarters, but if you walk (wade) slowly, pay attention, and keep the commotion to a minimum, you might be lucky enough to have a quiet conversation with one of the many small members of the flock. Should your steps, movements and skills be sufficient you might even find yourself tied into one of the few “Pound Plus Priests” that seem to deliver their sermons in the deepest, stillest waters.

For me at least, Barton Creek is a special place to feel connected to things that are much larger than me, a mecca, temple, a shrine to all things watery and mysterious. The fact that these holy waters sit in the heart of this blossoming town is mind boggling. Luckily the waters are nondenominational, so feel free to visit them regardless of your beliefs, and bow to the fish as much as you can. They might just repay you with the best day of fishing you’ve ever had.

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