John Henry Boatright shows off a catch from a Central Texas river. Aaron Reed photo
If you’ve always thought of fly fishing as a hobby for wealthy people who waded around in Montana streams with a bunch of expensive gear, Aaron Reed begs to differ.
Just about anybody can learn to fly fish without spending a ton of money, he says, and they can do it in rivers and streams all around Central Texas.
Aaron, a fly fishing expert and native Texan who lives in Georgetown, drove more than 2,500 miles and waded and paddled more than 150 miles of waterways to research his new book, “Fly Fishing Austin & Central Texas” (Imbrifex, $24.95). The guidebook, packed with photos, maps and tips, includes directions to more than 100 legal access points and more than four dozen wade and paddle routes within an hour’s drive of Austin. It also includes gear recommendations, tips on how to get started, information about the history and wildlife of the highlighted destinations, and suggestions on where to grab a bite and a beer when you’re done casting.
“I wanted to do what I could to demystify fly fishing,” Reed says. “There’s still a widespread perception it’s an elitist sport that’s expensive and hard to do. We certainly at one time deserved that reputation, but hopefully not so much now.”
Fresh bass! Aaron Reed Photo
These days, he says, anyone can get started for under $200, with gear that will last a long time.
As for that misconception that fly fishing is concentrated in places like Montana? Not so. Texas has a thriving fly fishing community, with five clubs between Waco and New Braunfels alone – as many as the entire state of Colorado. Austin is home to three fly shops, and three more are situated along the nearby Guadalupe River.
“There’s this incredible, vibrant community here that not a whole lot of people outside the state know about,” he says. “The idea is to serve that growing community and the incredible number of visitors who come in for Austin City Limits or South by Southwest music festivals, and pack a fly rod and go down to river and fish an hour.”
He says a recognition across the country that fly fishing isn’t just for trout and interest in warm water fisheries has put Central Texas at the forefront of the movement. People here are fishing for largemouth bass, Guadalupe bass, Rio Grande cichlids and even carp with fly rods.
“Austin for quite a long time has been on the radar worldwide as great place to catch wild common carp,” Reed says. “Carp is a huge sport fish in Europe … Fly fishing for them is catching fire, and we now have a series of carp fly fishing tourneys around the state, including one in San Marcos.”
Aaron Reed will sign copies of his new book at several locations in Central Texas this spring. Erich Schlegel photo
Want a signed copy of Reed’s book?
They’ll be available at the San Gabriel Fly Fishers meeting at 7 p.m. April 21 at the Boy Scout Hut in San Gabriel Park in Georgetown. He’ll also be signing from 1-6 p.m. May 2 at the Flies and Flame Expo at Star Hill Ranch, 15000 Hamilton Pool Road in Bee Cave; from 10 a.m. to noon May 9 at the Living Waters Fly Shop, 103 N. Brown Street in Round Rock; 3 p.m. June 6 at Lark & Owl Bookstore, 205 W. Sixth Street in Georgetown; and 5 p.m. June 20 at Book People, 603 N. Lamar Boulevard in Austin.
A party to celebrate the publication of the book is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. May 7 at Mesquite Creek Outfitters, 704 South Austin Avenue in Georgetown.
Edgar Diaz fly fishes in Onion Creek. Aaron Reed photo