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Behind the Scenes | Gone Fishin'

Eric Feldkamp proves you don’t have to leave downtown to go fishing.

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When Eric Feldkamp started his popular blog, ”Die Fische” (German for “all the fish”) nearly eight years ago, it was simply to document his new fly-fishing hobby and share adventures with his dad and brother. Within a few short months of starting the “Die Fische," Feldkamp met and married his wife, moved to Austin, became a father, and started a new job.

As a retail worker — and current manager of Whole Earth Provision Co. — fly-fishing provided Feldkamp a respite. “I always needed to get away,” Feldkamp says. A former skateboarder, Feldkamp has long had a proclivity for individual sports. “It's the most ‘Zen’ sport I can think of, exploring places and spending time by myself,” he explains. “It grew from the need to find a quiet space while also being active.” For the first few years after he began his new hobby, Feldkamp wouldn’t even accept offers to go fishing with others.

But through his blog, Feldkamp built a community and a reputation for being very generous about sharing the best spots to catch fish in the Austin area. Though many Austinites assume it’s necessary to leave town to find good fishing, Feldkamp says that is not true. “People don’t realize how much good fishing there is right around here, even in the downtown area.” Feldkamp is so dedicated to this idea that he often spends his lunch break at Shoal Creek in the heart of downtown Austin. Looking like a picture from a storybook, Feldkamp can often be seen crossing South Lamar Boulevard while hauling his rod and gear.

Under the Fifth Street Bridge, Feldkamp catches sunfish, large mouth bass, and Rio Grandes, which he says, “almost make you feel like you’re looking at stars — they nearly glow.” He releases his catch, of course, as it’s impressive that fish even survive in the murky waters of Shoal Creek. It may not always be the most idyllic setting, Feldkamp says, but he wants people to realize that fishing can happen almost anywhere. “There is a level of commitment standing under bat droppings, stinky under bridges, and in muddy, sinking ground, but I want to spread the good word [about] fishing for what is nearby and making the most of it.”

For Feldkamp, what started as an outlet for stress has made him passionate about improving Austin’s water and air quality through organizations like the Shoal Creek Conservancy, and to encourage others to slow down and appreciate the city’s natural beauty. “People have a habit of powering through their lunch breaks. It’s good to get out in the fresh air, because this town has so much to offer. I just happen to fly-fish, but everyone should find something they’re passionate about and go out and do it everyday, even if it’s just for the lunch hour.”

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  • Three-way lightweight rod and reel: This is a nice lightweight setup. A small fish on a setup like this feels just like a big fish would on a bigger rod, which is the nice thing about it. There’s a lot of action on this rod.
  • Flies: The black and chartreuse ones are poppers. Especially around here, in waters like Shoal Creek, I use little poppers that imitate fallen bugs and things like that. They’re a lot of fun because they float on the surface and are colorful so you get to see fish come up and catch them, as opposed to a stringer that goes down to the bottom.
  • Fishing license: Definitely something you need if you’re going to fish in Texas. You’re going to encounter a game warden at some point. So it’s good to have because it’s the law, but also because a lot of money from that goes to support stocking fish throughout the state.
  • Tippet: The tippet is what goes between the line and the fly. It’s super thin, so all the fish see is the fly. I use very lightweight stuff, lighter than what I would normally use, because the waters are so shallow in Shoal Creek, so it’s harder for the fish to see it. The stuff I use probably gets down to the thickness of a hair strand.
  • Hemostats scissors: So these are what you use to get the crushed barbed hooks out of the fish’s mouth. That way you can handle them less, so it’s less stressful for them. I’m not in it to hurt the fish. This pair is nice because the hemostats is the part at the end that looks like pliers, and a little further up are built-in scissors — two tools in one, so there’s one less thing to carry around.

Credits

Photography by Daniel Cavazos

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