Fishing

Fly Fishing the Mueller Development


Whenever I think of the Mueller development, I think of the quote from Misprint Zine which called it (and this is only a minor paraphrase): “A grotesque Truman Show social experiment.”

For people who don’t live in the Austin area, the Mueller development is the new housing subdivision built on the land of the old airport. The Mueller Airport was located conveniently close to downtown, which meant that planes were buzzing the ultra-gentrified Hyde Park neighborhood. So they moved the airport south of town so the planes would have to fly over the poor neighborhoods on the south and east sides. Subsequently, Austin found itself with a lot of undeveloped land conveniently close to downtown, so we held committees and public meetings and focus groups and ended up with a neighborhood that looks like a movie set, and not in a good way.

A feature of this new development is the standard hyper-engineered rainwater management system. Since we’re talking about an airport-sized run-off funnel here, they had to make a settling pond with a great deal of volume as the first stage. And according to the educational placards on the bike trail, this settling pond is stocked with bluegills and yellow perch.

In other words, a perfect target for the urban assault fishing of Austin fishing team!

I don’t know about the yellow perch, but there were definitely plenty of bluegills. Third Degree was cleaning them up with his usual bead head prince nymph setup. He would toss the line in, give it a count of three, and already there would be a fish on the end.

Third Degree and his panfish at Austin's Mueller

Third Degree and his panfish at Austin's Mueller

This was The Big C’s first outing with a fly rod and he took to it quickly. There was a bit more wind than we would have liked, but the settling pond is effectively at the bottom of a big pit, so the wind wasn’t too bad.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget the first fish that Big C caught. Third Degree and I had focused so hard on teaching Big C how to cast, that we forgot to tell him how to pull in a fish. The process is a bit different on a fly rod. There was some fumbling and confusion, but he got it in the end.

I myself had some good luck on my standard foam spider. There’s just something about watching a sunfish break the surface that’s far more satisfying that waiting for that tiny twitch of the line from a sunken nymph. After I lost all my spiders on back casts (there’s a lot of shrubbery and scrub around there) I switched to hoppers and did pretty well with them too.

I don’t think we caught anything even hand-length, but the fish were hungry enough that it was a fun outing. I talked to a guy with the standard rubber-worm Texas rig who was also there, and he said that he was angling for bass. It wasn’t clear if he’d actually caught any. But he did say that in one of the pre-settling pools (there’s a couple of cute little waterfalls in this pond) he caught some fish that seemed to match the description of bullheads.

I should point out that this wasn’t the main pond of the Mueller development, the one with the faux-Greek promenade. We actually finished up the day there, completely failing to catch anything of note. By really working at it, I was able to catch a couple of bluegills about the size of my index finger. Not sure why the public pond, which is much older than the settling pond would have such poor fishing comparably.

But the Fishing Team consensus is that in a couple of years there will be some hefty bluegills at the little pond. Plans are to make minor day trips out there from time to time.