Monday, July 16, 2012

The Short Career of a Suburban Poacher

This week finds me sharpening old bachelor skills that have happily grown rusty over the last six years of wedded bliss. My bride is out of town with her youngest son relaxing in Corpus Christi, including taking a guided bay fishing trip today...which I arranged but couldn't participate in  due to demands of my job.

So yesterday I took my first float down the San Marcos river (more about that in a subsequent post). Today after work I grabbed my little 6' fiberglass flyrod and headed to our local creek to play touch and go with some resident bass and sunfish.

Those who live outside the central Texas area may not be aware but we are still dealing with a severe drought. Rains in the recent weeks have eased it a bit, but our area lakes are still very low. Last night we got a genuine "toad strangler" in Austin, with some areas receiving as much as five inches in a few hours. In my area it was closer to three inches - which we are very grateful for. However the creek was blown out, so I had to find other options.

Evidence of some of the high water from last night

A couple if years ago a friend who shall remain nameless told me about two local ponds (or "tanks" as we call them in Texas) in the neighborhood next to mine that provided relaxing angling for small bass and sunfish...which was exactly the type of evening I was jonesing for.

Making my way to the pond, I began to cast as people walked their dogs on the hiking trail nearby. One neighbor stopped to chat, as he was about to head to Colorado to do some fly fishing. He was asking about the fly I was using, and a few other questions. I gave him the name of the local fly shop and recommended he stop in before his trip. He continued on to walk his dog, and I continued to fish.

Another family walked past, with the missus carrying her glass of white wine on the hike and bike trail. Ah, the housewives of Round Rock! 

One of the real pleasures in fishing small water is doing so with my little glass rod. The action is wonderfully slow, forcing me to slow down to let my cast develop. Usually it takes a few tailing loops to remind me that I am not on the clock, and the fish aren't watching my backcast.

Because of the high water there was a nice grass line to fish, and indeed my first few casts found fish there. The first was a nice aggressive little guy, which I appreciated because of the promise he gave of more fish.

A few more casts with my little yellow VIP popper  resulted in a few more eight to ten inch pass caught, each of which blew up on the popper with enough violence that I flinched each time.

Then the fish began to get bigger as I worked my way around the pond....

Rushing darkness I failed to retie after catching this guy, and as usual, I paid by losing the fly to a similar sized fish on the next blowup.

I tied on a black micro popper since the skies had darkened, and fish activity on the surface increased. A few casts later another neighbor stopped to watch. I am used to this and put on my normal dazzling array of tight looped casts, humbly accepting the accolades that invariably accompany the slack jawed amazement at my ethereal display of dexterity and art.

"Hey how's it going?" That's code for "wow that looks really cool, I wish I knew how to fly fish like you"

"Oh, pretty good, just released a pretty nice bass:"

Umm, yeah, I am gonna have to ask you to stop fishing".

I turned to face the neighbor expecting him to be holding an Initech coffee cup.

"Really? Why?"

"There's no fishing allowed here, see the sign? Moose shoulda told ya". Okay maybe he didn't say the bit about the moose, but he should have.

Actually no, it never occurred to me to look for a sign. In fact it wasn't visible from the hiking trail I had come up on. But in all honesty the guy was very polite (which happens when you live in a right to carry state), and told me the HOA banned fishing because the old fishing lines kept causing maintenance problems for the aeration pumps. Apologetically he said he knew it didn't apply to a fly fisher, but rules are rules.

So, another nice local fishing spot has gone the way of the passenger pigeon, and visions I had about taking my granddaughter fishing there have been scrapped.  And I am miffed that once again the misdeeds of a few causes the revocation of privileges to the many.   Maybe I can approach the HOA to replace their signs with one like this instead...


OneBugIsFake said...

As an accomplished suburban poach-and-releaser:

I like how they ALWAYS ask how the fishing is before they kick you out.

You always look for the sign and approach from another angle (get out of jail free card).

Night time is the right time.

Always poach with a fly rod (as you saw, they are much nicer to fly anglers).

The End.

Great post, awesome title.

Mat Trevors said...

One additional tip OBIF missed: disable/break the clicker off your reel. Silence is golden. I have a dedicated stealth rod/reel: no clicker, very limited shiny/flashy markings.

Face camo is optional.

Mark said...

Yeah I honestly didn't see the is placed facing the cul de sac, not the trail. Two years ago, the last time I fished there, no signs were present. According to the neighbor, the signs are a recent add. I am sure it had nothing to do with trash, bait boxes, and cast nets that seem to be ever present in other accessible local spots.

Thinking about buying a ninja suit on line... or a ghille. I would look like bigfoot in that - I doubt the HOA would mess with Sasquatch :-P


I'm no stranger in the ways of the ninja when it comes to fly fishing my local community / golf course water traps. As OBIF said "Night time is the right time." If you ever want to go, just say the word!

Although, that does nothing for the larger issue of why the 'No Fishing' sign was put up in the first place. While I understand the 'No Fishing' mentality, golf courses and communities take in an effort to reduce their exposure to risk and to eliminate a maintenance headache. I wish these open land managers would engage the angling community to work on a better solution… something other than the full closure of their facilities. One or two likeminded people, with a couple of hours a month time commitment, could have kept this and many similar scenarios from ever becoming an issue. We’ll never stop the 20 lb test line snaggers, the bait box leavers and the Bud Light consumers from doing what they do, but we can clean up after them…