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Category Archive:   Texas Ponds and Lakes


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Sitting at the intersection i couldn’t decide what to pursue. A right turn meant possible trout on the Guadalupe, but likely also numerous anglers since the weather was in the upper 60’s. A left turn meant Lake Bastrop and infinite elbow room but unsure fishing. To my surprise my foot and hands made the decision before my brain even had a chance to weigh in on the pros and cons. More room and less fish it obviously was going to be, logic be damned.

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With all my cyclical confusion lately as to why i even try to fish when everything seems to keep me from doing so, it felt good to have my sub-conscious take over and call the shots.

Speeding along the highway desperate to reach the relative seclusion of Lake Bastrop i never the less slammed on the breaks when i saw two very distinct images (above and below) that brought joy and a smile to my jovial heart for different reasons (irony and visual design, guess which one is which?).

Dipping the paddle board into the lakes cool waters i immediately made for Scout Creek, an area of the lake that had captured my attention from afar, but one that i had yet to visit. Paddling into the creek / cove overfilled with drowned and dead trees presented a visual treat that no CGI footage could ever match. It was like paddling through a forest cemetery filled with giant bones weathered to their most absolute paleness and planted headfirst into the murky muddiness.

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Despite hours of fishing i never managed to catch anything other than one of the most enjoyable naps i’ve ever had. Far up the creek i found a spot on the bank covered in brush and pine trees. The fallen needles had blanketed the shoreline where i snuck in under the low overhanging plant life, laid down on the needle mattress and carefully placed my straw fedora on my head to block the sunshine. After a few minutes of quiet stillness i was lucky enough to fall asleep to the sight and sound of a Pileated Woodpecker (a.k.a. log god)  slowly winding its way around a rotten tree trunk just across the creek, listening patiently for prey before beating out its percussive measures via its incredible bill searching for food.  Drifting off to the most peaceful hour of sleep i’ve had in a long time, i was eventually awakened by two hawks in the sky directly above me, obviously trying to settle some dispute as they latched on to each other over and over falling into the conifers before regaining their composure and flying back into the sky and starting the endless battle over and over again.

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Paddling back after hours of (naps) and fishing it quickly became obvious that i was a month or so to soon. I was knee-deep in bass waters but the fish obviously had other plans that (much like humans) involved finding the warmest spot in the lake, donning a Hawaiian shirt and slowly sipping Margaritas while waiting out all of these random cold fronts.

In retrospect i probably would have been better off if my brain had seized control of the situation early on and sent me hunting for trout along the Guadalupe. Then again my brain seems to get me in a shit ton of trouble when it’s activated too much, so it’s likely that sleeping on the needles under the pine trees, woodpeckers, and hawks was the best thing i could have done that day.

Soon…

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Ever since my addiction to fly fishing started i have found myself making a majority of the decisions in my life based on how they might either increase or decrease the amount of time i get to spend in (or on) the water. While many folks close to me have doubtlessly noticed this, surely nobody is more aware of my priorities than my family. For years a large majority of our family outings have centered in some part (if not entirely) around playing on the banks of rivers and creeks, or paddling and floating whatever option might be at hand. While there is an undeniable sense of self interest looming here, it must be said that for nine months of the year around central Texas, cooling off in the water is one of the only ways to not melt in the heat.  Plus, we have seen a lot (and i do mean a LOT) of nature around central Texas that we might otherwise not have experienced.

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However, even though we had visited many amazing places as a family to accommodate the over arching criteria mentioned above (water), there was no denying that my selfishness was keeping us from one spot that my wife had been asking to visit for years, Enchanted Rock State Park.

My lack of enthusiasm to visit the park over the years was due in large part to the fact that web search after web search returned practically nothing, and what did come back made any chance of fishing in the park sound just a shade shy of impossible. Still, i realized that my strangle hold on our adventures should have expired long ago, and it was with a happy heart that i recently packed the car to venture off to the dome, with an extra grin working the corners of my lips as i tossed in my rod and a few fishing loose ends, just in case.

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Once there, and after working our way 425 feet up to the crest of the mammoth pink granite rock we ended up with an amazing panoramic view of the Hill Country spread out before us. From that vantage point it was easy to spot the water that was calling both my rod and my curiosity, Moss Lake.

To keep it short and get to the point, after years of wondering, my curiosity was assuaged, there are fish there. Even though the weather up until then had been unseasonably cold, and the wind was howling so hard it nearly blew us off the top of the rock, i managed to catch a few sunfish and a small bass (out of focus below) in the 30 minutes i had before my son tired of getting whipped around in the extremely hostile wind and asked if we could please go.

Suffice to say, if you live around the central Texas area, and have been putting off visiting here because you’ve thought (like i did) that there’s no fishing fun to be had, pack a rod and the family and get out there before the summer heat does.

I know that this seldom happens this way, but it was great to give up my interests, allow someone else theirs and still have it all work out in the end for everyone (maybe only because i didn’t expect anything).

What did i learn from this? One, it’s not always about me and my desires. Two, always pack a fly rod.

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Ladies and gentleman. My fellow anglers, there is a hint of optimism blowing on the breeze here in the Texas Hill Country. Though the rivers and creeks may be drier than British comedy, and the heat is still so bad that simply getting down into the “double digits” is cause for celebration, there never the less seems to be a glimmer of fall just around the corner. It’s possible that it’s just quiet desperation on my part, but it seems that the sun is starting to take itself a little less seriously in the evening, throwing in some softer tones to make everything around start to glow in fall colors.

This of course doesn’t mean that summer is over by any stretch of the imagination, it’s just that somedays, especially around sunset, one might have the faintest sense that “this too shall pass” as many things have before.

Mueller airport, located here in the heart of Austin is a prime example of this age old axiom. At one time the Mueller airport was the bustling hub of Austin, a facility that was sure to take this town into the future. Not only was it THE Austin airport for close to 70 years, it was also the poster boy for the new fangled “Jet Age” once the facilities were upgraded in 1961 with the construction of the new control tower (above photo) and the dedication by then Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson.

It’s use as an airport is long over, but the airport is undergoing a new life, that of a mixed use community hoping to make it’s mark as a sign of what inner city redevelopment could be. While this is great news for the Mueller community, and Austin in general, for you and i there is one interesting piece of this redevelopment that really ties the room together.

There is a lake. And in this lake, there are fish.

Over the years i’ve heard about the amazing fishing here, and with the flows on my favorite local waters at a stagnant zero CFS, i finally had the excuse i needed to check out this urban fishery. Truth be told, i wasn’t expecting anything more than a ditch with water (the typical urban pond), so when i crested the hill and saw the urban park from the future, with cutting edge facilities, trees providing ample shade, and a large pond (i know they call it a lake, but that’s probably being a little too generous) with large sections of the bankside blanketed in vegetation i had that overwhelming sense that i was walking into a possible urban fishing goldmine.

Probably the biggest shock of all though, was that unlike most of the waters around Austin, the lake is catch and release (photo above). Ideally this would mean that all fish are returned to the water without harm, swimming off to be caught again. Unfortunately, as i’ve witnessed multiple times, that simply isn’t the case. They’re returned, but usually after flopping on concrete for a while and being kept out of the water for minutes instead of seconds. Still, at least the signs were up to try and encourage good stewardship. If nothing else, at least they’re acknowledging that they expect and welcome angling which in and of itself accounts for something.

If you plan on fishing here, be forewarned, while there may not be any cops or angry landowners to chase you off, there are lots of children…lots and lots of them. Furthermore, every one of them is fascinated by folks like you and i that might be trying to ply the waters in peace, and they’re not afraid to break social convention by standing close, wiping their nose on your shirt tail, and asking you every question that pops into their little child heads. If you appreciate your space, i recommend hitting the pond early in the morning on a weekday, possibly on your commute to work to avoid the crowds, and inevitable questions.

Although it took a couple of hours (during which time i saw a nine year old land a three pound bass on a spin rod) i eventually tied into the fish below. Despite having heard of others successes here over the years, it felt good to have my own evidence that this spot held water and biting fish, even as the local creeks are drying up and feeling more like warm soup than freshwater. Maybe the rainy month they’ve been promising for years will in fact come, and i can return to my home waters on Barton/Onion creek. If not, at least i know a good spot that’s guaranteed to have water, fish, food trucks and a clean bathroom.

Here’s to progress!

 

 

Heading over to thesaurus.com i looked up the word “humbling” to find other ways to explain the day. There were, disgracing, degrading, and abashing amongst others, but my personal favorite was “cast down”. To be sure, that is exactly what i experienced  this last thursday when i headed to the ever shrinking Lake Travis early in the morning, with vague hopes of figuring out where the white bass were and how to land one for this albatross of a contest that i’m trying to win.

It’s weird as hell, but there are NO fish photos to show that i’d accomplished anything on this particular day. If the few photos i do have were actual hard copies they’d probably be soaked either by the rain that kept catching me by surprise, or the tears of frustration as the skunk of a day wore on. (I didn’t actually cry, but in all honesty i wasn’t to far from it.)

It was one of those days that you can slowly feel spiral out of your control, as the harder you work to fight the inevitable, the more you seem to seal your fate as you get sucked into the empty fish-less void. It happens to all of once in a while, i guess i’ve just been fortunate to have forgotten how much it can hurt your pride.

“Nine hours of fishing, and all i got were these lousy photos.”

(Just kidding, i actually quite like them.)