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Category Archive:   Texas Creeks


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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I’m lucky as hell. My son is just as curious as i am, and after viewing a shelter building video i had introduced him to recently, he was dead set on having me teach him the knots and lashings i’d learned long ago in Boy Scouts in an effort for him to learn how to make his own hut.

I’m sure everyone has their own opinions about their Boy Scouts, but my own experience was a mixed bag. While i learned wonderful skills like knots, fire building and other helpful outdoor skills that i cherish to this day, i also was shown how to shotgun beer, smoke cigarettes, roll joints and cause havoc in a million different ways.

In an effort to pass on some of the more positive character building aspects i learned, i recently ordered off of Ebay a copy of the Boy Scout Handbook from my era 9the eighties) which has substantially more practical information than the current edition, which reads more like a self help book. The plan was to refresh my mind, as well as teach Paolo the amazing skills that one can learn with the right instructions and some well thought out images.

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So it was that a few days ago the two of us gave my wife some peace and quiet and headed off to Barton Creek, outfitted with survival gear (he) and rods, wine, and cheese (me). With hours to carefully waste, we had four goals for the day, hike, lash, snack and fish. Hiking down the Mopac trail to Twin Falls we were both ecstatic to see a creek pulsing with healthy, clear flows. Skirting the creeks bankside trail we made our way up towards Sculpture Falls in an effort to find a spacious and special gravel bank that we’ve visited a few times together over the years.

Once found, we quickly set up shop and spent the next thirty minutes procurring dead driftwood flushed down the creek by recent floods. Deciding on a simple structure that would provide lashing skills as well as a building block to grow on later, we settled on a four post table/chair/cot/etc.  that immediately intrigued him and took over all his focus. I provided a demonstration of the lashings and then removed it, coaching him through the first two corners before he got it and wrapped the project. The sense of pride he felt when he had a structure he could sit (and even stand on), built with nothing but cord and branches was immense. So proud was he with his creation (and rightfully so) all he wanted to do was sit there for the next hour reading a book on his chair he had made.

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Content as he was, he encouraged me to go fish which i did without the slightest hesitation, wandering into the cool and clear water, stripping the line out, readying myself for who knows what. Shiiiipppp…shiiiiipppp…shiiiippppp…” went the line as a handful of false casts were made to get the Clouser in place on the opposite bank. A simple strip and quickly the line was tight and a fight ensued that resulted in me landing one of my first Rio Grandes in many months. Good karma.

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After that, there were a handful of smaller bass lured from the deeper pools as i strolled up and down the banks, all small for your average water, but good sized for these waters, hit as they were by drought and flood repeatedly in the last few years.

Returning to the Survival Chair, Paolo and i headed a little ways up the creek where some of the larger bass were hanging out deep below the falls. I eventually locked onto the monster in the pool, a three pound behemoth that was cruising the bottom and assuredly aware we were on a high bank right above him. After a few minutes i found the right fly and strip and saw him casually meander over to check out the streamer bouncing with effort along the bottom. After a few feet of tense following, he went for the fly as i over reacted and aggressively set the hook in what i imagined to be his lip.

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In that split second i had a range of emotions which are as follows:

  • “Yes, i got him!”
  • “Crap! He was only mouthing it and i pulled it away!”
  • “I suck.”
  • “Whoa, that other bass inhaled it directly in front of him!”
  • “YES! I have a bass!”
  • “I ROCK!”

I landed the bass, and had my son snap the photo below. As i looked up at the photographer i couldn’t help but notice that the same sense of pride he felt about his lashings and their end result were back and in full bloom when he snapped the photo of me and the fish.

That’s the great thing about pride, you can feel it for yourself when you pull off something you’ve worked hard at, but also feel it for others (especially those you love or admire) when they do they same as well, whether it’s a hike, a lashing, or a fish brought to hand.

There’s a lot of stuff i need to teach him from the book, but love of nature, love of the moment, and gratefulness aren’t among them. Guess he picked that up somewhere along the way.

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