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Muddy Creek: A Masochists Delight

By Bill Hillman (wgflyer)

The adhesive quality of wet Texas clay, when applied to the bottom of a boot, is extraordinary. My naturally inquisitive nature might normally have compelled me to admire the way it picked up twigs, grass and other bits of trivia along the trail and bound them so completely to the bottom of my feet, but I was preoccupied with fishing and the extra weight thus added to each step was becoming an annoyance.

So, shaking first one foot and then the other to dislodge it I half walked, half stumbled down an overgrown path while trying to keep my fishing pole from hanging on branches as I went. The unintended result of this little dance was a head on collision with one of Muddy Creek's greatest wonders…a massive spider web.

Suddenly my clay overshoes lost virtually all of their importance, and despite their cumbersome nature I managed quite an energetic jig while simultaneously, and even more energetically, slapping myself all over and making muffled whimpering sounds. Spiders really give me the creeps, and it is because of little adventures like this I am developing a real, love-hate relationship with this little stream.

Muddy Creek winds through pastureland not far from my home and empties into a local reservoir. Along it's banks for a hundred yards or so from the water's edge a thick forest has grown up consisting of oak and other deciduous species, and mesquite. Of particular interest in the latter are the 4 inch thorns that protrude from just about everywhere on their low hanging branches. Many a time I've had to backtrack, wincing and rubbing a fresh wound, to retrieve my hat from its skewer.

But not to be out done by mesquite, the various shrubs and vines that flourish on the forest floor are themselves armored with a variety of formidable spikes. And, of course, stretching from branch to branch and vine to vine are those webs, thousands of them, each with its creator hanging in wait of a meal.

So what on earth makes this place appealing? Well, there aren't too many fishermen.

I started coming here because of the white bass runs that come in early spring from out of the lake. During these times the spiders are hibernating, the ragweed in the fields is dead and trampled and there are fish galore. There are also a lot of fishermen then. But because of the overgrown nature of the creek one might always find a hole untouched by those who fear the thorns, or thick brush, or the snags that terrorize lesser men.

For this early year fishing I use a 3 foot pole created from the tip of a broken rod I found on the bank and an ultra light spinning reel. With that and a box of jigs I can snake my way through the bushes and crouch at a precarious point just above a log jam and pull fish after fish out from between the snags.

Or not.

And I'll likely lose a lot of terminal tackle. But so does everyone else. In fact, the trees, bushes and protruding snags are hung with a plethora of colorful bits of feather, chenille and chrome. Line still dangles from many of them, trailing forlornly into the chocolate water . Half my snags are the broken line of other people's snags!

Spring rains turn Muddy Creek into a torrent which spreads from it's banks and widens to engulf both forest and surrounding pasture land. Carp love this, splashing gleefully where cattle recently roamed. Big catfish explore the newly flooded land, as well, bringing lots of bait fishermen into the melee. White bass become tough to get to at this time because they stay in the main creek bed, which is unreachable to anyone not wearing a wet suit and a pair of fins.

But as the water recedes back to within it's banks and the silt begins to settle the visibility into the murk grows with each passing day. When the water becomes clear enough to see, say, half a foot, I have found that the white bass begin taking woolly buggers offered them via my 3 weight fly rod.

As the water clears, the fishing gets better and other species get in on the act. There are yellow bass coming up with the white bass, and there are a whole lot of bluegill in the creek, along with some crappie and the occasional largemouth bass. All will chase my flies.

When the rains subside and the white bass runs end for the year, all those multitudes of fishermen disappear. Only the multicolored remnants of their passing , still hanging from the branches, remain fading and rusting to oblivion.

But Muddy Creek still abounds with fish.

Of course, that's also when the spiders begin to make their appearance, along with their cousins the chiggers. And snakes slither a bit too often underfoot. But, so long as I am content with the inconveniences I have practically my own private fishing preserve. In the midst of a big suburban area, that's quite a treat.

I catch a lot of big bream in Muddy Creek during the summer, along with some crappie and small largemouths. I also lose a lot of flies, tie on a lot of new tippets and perform some quality cursing at this natural obstacle course.

But in between all of this I might pause to listen to the relaxing calls of cardinals and mockingbirds, a woodpecker knocking a hole in a stump or the raucous cry of a peeved heron. The slippery wet clay banks mimic the walls of an Egyptian pyramid, hieroglyphics everywhere, written by the paws, claws and toes of endless species of critters of feather or fur.

I kind of like the place. ~ Bill

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