Although I’m old enough to know better than look backward, it seems like just the other day I was writing about the amazing flows that seemed to abound here in the Hill Country with our incredible spring / early summer rains. Unfortunately, it only took a couple of dry, face-melting months of heat to completely derail what was shaping up to be an epic fly fishing season.

After spending the last two months more or less holed up in the house going stir crazy from the 100+ heat I finally felt the need to visit my good friend Barton Creek even though I knew it approaching this old friend would be painful. I’d checked in on her occasionally on her during quick non-fishing visits and knew things were rapidly declining, but I had no idea just how bad it was until I descended the Hill of Life and witnessed the dam that was normally overflowing with hippies, frat boys and water, now dry, still, and devoid of any sign of life…party people included.

Wandering about 100 yards upstream over dry, barren rock and sand, I found what is normally an 8′ deep pool reduced to about a foot or two of water  with red horse, catfish, bass, sunfish all packed into tight quarters that brought to mind all the folks moving to Austin and settling for similar tight confines in one of the infinite amounts of condos that seem to spring up like mushrooms throughout the city.

It was a mixed blessing to be sure, the wondrous joy of sight casting in clear water barely knee-deep combined with the “Oh Shit” realization that if we don’t get some substantial rain in the next couple of weeks our fishery will have to start all over again as it did 8 years ago when Barton Creek (and many other waterways in TX) were nothing but dry, dirty exposed bones bleached by endless drought.

Those small pools, deep and unfishable as they are during normal flows, turned out fish after gullible fish that ran the gamut. Longear, bluegill, green sunfish, Guadalupe Bass and even my first Rio Grande of the year (that I can recall anyway) were all laced throughout the many shallow pools connected with only the most tenuous rivulet of water between them. It was a cornucopia of fish, miniature in magnitude but a kaleidoscope of color none the less.

Later in the day, after working my way downstream towards Sculpture Falls, it was a much different story as the fish all somehow seemed much to high brow and educated to fall for something so basic as a hook wrapped with feathers, thread and dumbbell eyes. I’ve fished these pools for over a decade and I can tell you that something about these pools and their tenants make them FAR more difficult to catch than many of the “most difficult trout fisheries” I’ve fished over just as many years.

So when I did the “one last cast before I leave” with the white micro popper, casting the line in the narrow window between the overhanging grape vines and the water’s surface, the popper landing softly against the far bank and barely settling in before disappearing in a flurry of whitewater exploding in all directions, sending a shockwave of adrenaline running down the line, to the rod, my hand, and eventually my brain, it all came together.

“Yes.”

Who knows, October is historically one of the rainiest months in Texas, it’s possible that two days from today we could all be talking about the damage that floods have done to these fisheries. Still, at this point we’re sitting on that precipitous needle between current definite drought and a possible (and historically likely) flood looming around the corner. All of which is to say, go now friend. You can’t control the past and you likely don’t know the future, so get out there while the getting’s good.