I’ve been in Austin for ten years, but I hadn’t known that if you went far enough up the Barton Creek green belt, you’ll find a permanent stretch of water. It’s essentially in Westlake, just a ways up Capital of Texas Highway, and it’s called Lost Creek. My editing colleague Steve is the one who showed me the area. In the heat of the summer he would go out there with his kids to cool off in what must be one of the least known swimming holes in the Austin area.
And of course where there’s standing water, there’s always fish. The creek was filled with cichlids spawning in the shallows, and sunfish basking near rock outcroppings that seem intentionally designed for swimming.
The plan was to park one vehicle at the green belt trail head near MoPac and 71. Then we would drive the other vehicle out to Lost Creek, and hike down the green belt to the first car. Unfortunately, despite all my planning and perusing of Google Maps, I failed to realize that the trail was about five miles long, and that we would run out of water for both drinking and fishing within the first mile.
But that first mile has been often cited by The Big C and Third Degree as the best of our outings. Despite the unusually gonzo physical excursion.
Because this is Texas, we reversed the usual fly fishing modality, and instead of wearing waders to escape the cold of the stream, we wore crocs and swim shorts to take full advantage of the stream’s refreshing coolness. There’s nothing quite like back-casting with your arms above your head because you’re up to your chin water, with only the top of your head exposed to the 100 degree heat. I caught a puppy bass on a muddler minnow while doing that.
The best part of the fishing was exploring each new pool we came across. Every one was filled with fish. We caught cichlids and the usual variety of sunfish on prince nymphs, copper Johns, and hare’s ears. I was surprised to catch a black tailed shiner minnow on a prince nymph. I was so excited by the catch that I took its picture with my phone’s camera, and then when I tossed the shiner back into the creek, I actually tossed my phone in with it. So that’s the last photo you’re getting of this trip.
There were some surpisingly large pools of water along the creek, but as we ran out of time and hurried to where we parked the car, the creek completely dried out. From the public swimming pool to about eight miles upstream, Barton Creek was bone dry. The limestone creek bed was bleached a blinding white in the sun. It makes you wonder how all those fish ended so far upstream. It must have been an epic journey for them in a wetter time.