Texas Fishing Stream

Low and Slow, with Shenanigans: No bad months here, but the best are just ahead

The end of summer in Central Texas typically brings us low, slow, and sometimes scummy waters. In the years when we don’t have tropical systems parked over the hills to the west, anyhow.

Corey casting
Cory Sorel exercises his 2-wt. in low-water conditions on Brushy Creek.
Photo by Araron Reed

This year is no exception, but it is perhaps a bit more of a letdown after a sustained wet period that supercharged springs and tributaries across the region. Rather than the up-down, up-down cycle we are used to (and native species are well-adapted to survive), it’s been a long, gradual decline to September.

In conditions like this, a little bit of rain goes a long way.

At the beginning of September I had the opportunity to fish Brushy Creek with Jeff Troutman. We had a great time and caught plenty of fish, but we also spent a lot of time cleaning algae off our flies.

A couple of weeks later, I fished the same reach with my buddy Cory. A half inch of precipitation a few days before had cleaned the worst of the gunk out of the creek, and it was flowing clear and cool on a 70-degree morning (also a welcome change). It felt like October water.

Early fall in Central Texas, before the first big cold front barrels through and average daytime temps drop, is “getting ready” time. Dragonflies and damselflies fill the air, battling for the right to reproduce. In the water, sunfish are done with the spawn and cichlids have shepherded the last of their broods. Every living thing seems to be at loose ends, gathering strength and intent for the next big push: fatten-up to survive the lean winter months.

The fishing is fixing to be on fire, y’all.

October is the last (and best) opportunity on most streams to catch a Rio Grande cichlid, and bass will be trying to eat just about anything that moves.

longear sunfish
Fall color in Texas can mean a couple of things, but shows up most reliably in the water in the jewel-like tones of longear sunfish.
Photo by Araron Reed

Anglers, too, are gathering their strength for the next thing. Many of us have played our home waters to exhaustion and are getting a little fidgety, just like the fish. Those of us who have banked some personal days may shoot down to the coast for the annual fall redfish rodeo on the flats, or out west to the mountains for the best cutthroat fishing of the year. But we’ll want to be home for that mid-October into November feeding frenzy.

In a preview of late fall, buddy Chris Skinner hit the Guad late last week, looking for stripers and largemouth bass, and inadvertently caught a beautiful holdover rainbow. That’s the next, next thing around here, after October’s warmwater feeding frenzy: trout season.

Hurricane season isn’t over, not by a long shot, and the National Hurricane Center currently is tracking something like six separate tropical systems in the Atlantic and Caribbean. Best-case scenario, one of those will gently spiral across Central Texas and dump 6 to 10 inches of rain. Not the 4 feet that Southeast Texas just got from Tropical Storm Imelda. Not that, please.

But, whether or not we see any tropical moisture up here, there are cold fronts just over the horizon and they often bring rain, followed by gorgeous bluebird days.

Come on out!

Get-trashed poster

The last week of September also brings two Pig Farm Ink events back around: the Iron Fly shenanigans Thurs., Sept. 26, at Sean Patrick’s in San Marcos, and the “Get Trashed on the San Marcos” river cleanup Saturday, Sept. 28, headquartered at Texas State Tubes, also in San Marcos.

Both events involve hilarity, and some truly terrific prizes, and the family-friendly Get Trashed event also involves free food and adult beverages. If you are new to fly fishing or just curious about it, or if you are new to the area, please take a chance and come on out. The purpose of both events (other than to clean-up the river on Saturday) is to build community.

So join us. Make some new friends to help you make the most of fly fishing through the Central Texas fall. There really are no bad months to fish in Central Texas, but there are best months, and they are coming right up.

Aaron Reed

Aaron Reed

Aaron Reed is an award-winning outdoor writer and Army veteran. He currently splits his time between his native Texas Gulf coast, where he drives a tugboat, and his home near the San Gabriel River in Georgetown, Texas. He is a founding member of the Texas Streams Coalition and has worked for the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department. In 2020, he was awarded the prestigious FFI Roderick Haig-Brown Award. When he is not working, chances are you can find him knee-deep in a stream somewhere around Austin, often with his wife and one or more of his three boys, trying like heck to become a better fly fisherman. His stories and photos have appeared in Southwest Fly Fishing, This is Fly, Kayak Angler, Texas Outdoors Journal, Texas Sporting Journal, Texas Fish & Game, Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine, Lone Star Outdoor News, Austin American-Statesman, Austin Business Journal, the Taylor Press, Soldiers magazine, Leatherneck magazine, Liguorian magazine, The Washington Times, and elsewhere.

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