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Kayak fishing the Lone Star State...


#2315177
I'm taking 5 days off last week of March to go fish some rivers in the Hill Country. Given the two weekends on either side here, I'm looking at about a 7-8 day trip to go fishing.

The only stretch of river I really have had experience on to-date is the Lower Guad under Canyon Lake Dam. I'm hopping to cross off a bunch of other bucket list rivers off my list this week. Mainly targeting bass.

I really want to hit the South Llano, the Upper Guad and the Frio. Also thinking off the Medina, the Blanco, Pedernales, and maybe Colorado under Towne Lake.

I'm really looking to determine which rivers I can look to pull an overnight camping trip on vs. which ones will be single day floats as I have a bunch of friends in the Hill Country we can stay with. Any suggestions are appreciated! Particularly good stretches to consider. Thanks!
#2315213
It's south of US-90, and includes the 6 miles of river that disappears into the aquifer recharge and re-emerges into the coastal plain.
A buddy has a family ranch there - one day, 3 of us caught 400 bass hiking from one cold pool to the next, and each broke off 2-3 lifetime bass - 10-12 lbs.
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This is one of the blue holes where the river is coming back from the aquifer
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You can get some pretty good access to the Sabinal blue holes and the confluence of the Frio and Sabinal by driving to the crossings south from the town of Sabinal.
This is the final blue hole on the Sabinal - there are 7 bass sitting on the flagstone against the far bank.
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A blue hole on Williams Creek in Tarpley
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Here's the Nueces fingers and blue holes at Chalk Bluff.
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#2315219
I've fished the Nueces River the past couple years and it was hit hard by two massive floods in 2018 and still recovering. Lots of smaller fish, but I'm not sure the big bass are there, at least not in the crossings I've wade fish. It is a very pretty river and easy to do an overnighter on.

The Sabinal has big bass and is my favorite of the Hill Country rivers. I mainly wade fish it around Utpoia and Vanderpool, but there are stretches which require kayaks. This is better suited for day floats and trips.

The Upper Medina River would make a nice overnight float from Medina to Bandera. Lots of big bass and Rio Grande Cichlids through this stretch. Some Beautiful water falls as well.

Pedernales River isn't as clear of a river as all the other rivers on your list, but it has monster carp.

Blanco the land owners are assholes and access is very limited. At most crossings you'll have to walk well over 1/2 mile from a crossing to where you can legally park due to abuse of "No Parking" signs.

A very under rated river with quality fish is the San Saba, especially the stretch between Fort McKavett and Menard. Super clear water, big fish, and little pressure. A multiday float from the Fort to Menard is at the top of my list.
#2315233
I lived in Ingram a couple of years. The north and south arms of the Guadalupe join just north of the Hunt Crossing, west of Ingram. From there all the way to Comfort there are lots of small dammed up lakes, New and Old Lakes Ingram, Kerrville Ponding Lake(Chester Nimitz), Louise B. Hayes Park, Flatrock Lake, Center Point and many more. They hold Largemouth bass, Guadalupe bass, carfish and gar. I don't know if the TPWD stocks trout that far west. In the Kerrville area, the property owners are like Ron said about the Blanco guys, but there are access points at most lakes. Nice clear spring water. I really enjoyed fishing that area. I never made it to the Rebecca launch at the west end of Canyon Lake, but wanted to. There's tons of great fishing in the Hill Country(people in Austin THINK they're in the Texas Hill Country). Have a good time. TexasJim
#2315250
[quote="Ron Mc"]It's south of US-90, and includes the 6 miles of river that disappears into the aquifer recharge and re-emerges into the coastal plain.
A buddy has a family ranch there - one day, 3 of us caught 400 bass hiking from one cold pool to the next, and each broke off 2-3 lifetime bass - 10-12 lbs.

Very cool pics Ron! Fun to look for these kind of places on Google Maps even if I can't access them hah!
#2315251
TexasJim wrote:I lived in Ingram a couple of years. The north and south arms of the Guadalupe join just north of the Hunt Crossing, west of Ingram. From there all the way to Comfort there are lots of small dammed up lakes, New and Old Lakes Ingram, Kerrville Ponding Lake(Chester Nimitz), Louise B. Hayes Park, Flatrock Lake, Center Point and many more. They hold Largemouth bass, Guadalupe bass, carfish and gar. I don't know if the TPWD stocks trout that far west. In the Kerrville area, the property owners are like Ron said about the Blanco guys, but there are access points at most lakes. Nice clear spring water. I really enjoyed fishing that area. I never made it to the Rebecca launch at the west end of Canyon Lake, but wanted to. There's tons of great fishing in the Hill Country(people in Austin THINK they're in the Texas Hill Country). Have a good time. TexasJim


TexasJim, I appreciate the insight. I worked in Hunt, TX for two summers years ago and absolutely love the area. Someone had mentioned trying the headwaters of the Guad up that way and I was going to try and look into it!
#2315252
Neumie wrote:I've fished the Nueces River the past couple years and it was hit hard by two massive floods in 2018 and still recovering. Lots of smaller fish, but I'm not sure the big bass are there, at least not in the crossings I've wade fish. It is a very pretty river and easy to do an overnighter on.

The Sabinal has big bass and is my favorite of the Hill Country rivers. I mainly wade fish it around Utpoia and Vanderpool, but there are stretches which require kayaks. This is better suited for day floats and trips.

The Upper Medina River would make a nice overnight float from Medina to Bandera. Lots of big bass and Rio Grande Cichlids through this stretch. Some Beautiful water falls as well.

Pedernales River isn't as clear of a river as all the other rivers on your list, but it has monster carp.

Blanco the land owners are assholes and access is very limited. At most crossings you'll have to walk well over 1/2 mile from a crossing to where you can legally park due to abuse of "No Parking" signs.

A very under rated river with quality fish is the San Saba, especially the stretch between Fort McKavett and Menard. Super clear water, big fish, and little pressure. A multiday float from the Fort to Menard is at the top of my list.


Neumie, thanks for the info! Good to know about the Nueces. I may end up going there just to soak in the views. Glad to hear there's big fish in the Sabinal as I've wanted to checkout the Lost Maples-Utopia of Texas for some years now. I will definitely be bringing my kayak, are there any stretches you'd reccomend?

Also interesting you brought up the San Saba. I have heard good things about it as well. Initially had it on my list, maybe I need to reconsider it.
#2315316
Neumie wrote:I've fished the Nueces River the past couple years and it was hit hard by two massive floods in 2018 and still recovering. Lots of smaller fish, but I'm not sure the big bass are there, at least not in the crossings I've wade fish. It is a very pretty river and easy to do an overnighter on.

The Sabinal has big bass and is my favorite of the Hill Country rivers. I mainly wade fish it around Utpoia and Vanderpool, but there are stretches which require kayaks. This is better suited for day floats and trips.

The Upper Medina River would make a nice overnight float from Medina to Bandera. Lots of big bass and Rio Grande Cichlids through this stretch. Some Beautiful water falls as well.

Pedernales River isn't as clear of a river as all the other rivers on your list, but it has monster carp.

Blanco the land owners are assholes and access is very limited. At most crossings you'll have to walk well over 1/2 mile from a crossing to where you can legally park due to abuse of "No Parking" signs.

A very under rated river with quality fish is the San Saba, especially the stretch between Fort McKavett and Menard. Super clear water, big fish, and little pressure. A multiday float from the Fort to Menard is at the top of my list.


Josh, what area of the Nueces do you usually wade?
#2315377
redhawk89 wrote:Neumie, thanks for the info! Good to know about the Nueces. I may end up going there just to soak in the views. Glad to hear there's big fish in the Sabinal as I've wanted to checkout the Lost Maples-Utopia of Texas for some years now. I will definitely be bringing my kayak, are there any stretches you'd reccomend?

Also interesting you brought up the San Saba. I have heard good things about it as well. Initially had it on my list, maybe I need to reconsider it.

On the Sabinal with a kayak I'd look at Utopia City Park or paddling up or down river from the first crossing of 187 from the town of Sabinal (29°31'0.93"N, 99°30'30.83"W). Expect to drag the kayak in stretches. Other than those the Sabinal is better suited for wade fishing, IMO.
#2315383
Neumie wrote:
imaoldmanyoungsalt wrote:Josh, what area of the Nueces do you usually wade?

CR 408, 412, and 414 mainly. Have scoped out River Rd and McDonald crossings, but they've always had more people there than I'd care to be around.
Thanks Josh. Like the OP, I have Vacation coming up the last week of March and I've been wanting to hit some of these hill country rivers. I'm thinking I'll leave the kayak behind and just do some wading and skip around to several different ones over the course of a week. Ive been looking at some Google map pictures and did not realize how beautiful the Nueces was.

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#2315384
imaoldmanyoungsalt wrote:Thanks Josh. Like the OP, I have Vacation coming up the last week of March and I've been wanting to hit some of these hill country rivers. I'm thinking I'll leave the kayak behind and just do some wading and skip around to several different ones over the course of a week. Ive been looking at some Google map pictures and did not realize how beautiful the Nueces was.

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Nueces is a very pretty river. It may not be the picturesque Hill Country people expect with cypress lined banks, but the open skies and vista views are spectacular. I think Ron may have mentioned earlier, but since there's very little shade on the river you definitely need to focus fishing any shady spots.

Since there's very little shade make sure to wear adequate sun protection and lots of drinking water; even in March. The sun reflects up from the white rocks so you kind of get hit from above and below on a sunny day.
#2315386
Neumie wrote:
imaoldmanyoungsalt wrote:Thanks Josh. Like the OP, I have Vacation coming up the last week of March and I've been wanting to hit some of these hill country rivers. I'm thinking I'll leave the kayak behind and just do some wading and skip around to several different ones over the course of a week. Ive been looking at some Google map pictures and did not realize how beautiful the Nueces was.

Sent from my SM-N970U using Tapatalk

Nueces is a very pretty river. It may not be the picturesque Hill Country people expect with cypress lined banks, but the open skies and vista views are spectacular. I think Ron may have mentioned earlier, but since there's very little shade on the river you definitely need to focus fishing any shady spots.

Since there's very little shade make sure to wear adequate sun protection and lots of drinking water; even in March. The sun reflects up from the white rocks so you kind of get hit from above and below on a sunny day.
Thanks for the tip. I'll definitely slather on the sun screen!
Sounds like a good river for a fly rod too! I need the practice and experience, so I'll be sure to take it with.


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#2315394
Neumie wrote:
redhawk89 wrote:Neumie, thanks for the info! Good to know about the Nueces. I may end up going there just to soak in the views. Glad to hear there's big fish in the Sabinal as I've wanted to checkout the Lost Maples-Utopia of Texas for some years now. I will definitely be bringing my kayak, are there any stretches you'd reccomend?

Also interesting you brought up the San Saba. I have heard good things about it as well. Initially had it on my list, maybe I need to reconsider it.

On the Sabinal with a kayak I'd look at Utopia City Park or paddling up or down river from the first crossing of 187 from the town of Sabinal (29°31'0.93"N, 99°30'30.83"W). Expect to drag the kayak in stretches. Other than those the Sabinal is better suited for wade fishing, IMO.


Thank you!!! This is very helpful. It might be nice to ditch the kayak for the day anyway. I have always wanted to see Lost Maples Start Park, so maybe I'll go up there too.

Also appreciate the info on the Nueces. Really helps to understand floatable spots.

I have heard good & bad things about the Medina River. Some saying it's real low, but others I've talked to said they've caught large bass there.
#2315395
redhawk89 wrote:Thank you!!! This is very helpful. It might be nice to ditch the kayak for the day anyway. I have always wanted to see Lost Maples Start Park, so maybe I'll go up there too.

Also appreciate the info on the Nueces. Really helps to understand floatable spots.

I have heard good & bad things about the Medina River. Some saying it's real low, but others I've talked to said they've caught large bass there.

Make sure to reserve your day pass online for Lost Maples. If you're going during a weekday they should have plenty of available passes, weekends could sell out.

As for the Medina, and really any Hill Country River, flow rates will be lower during summer months due to less rain fall and more pumping from the aquifer to meet human needs and irrigation. Late fall through spring (Nov. through May) will have the highest flow rates. Again, this pretty common across all Hill Country Rivers.

Most of the Hill Country Rivers hold large bass, it just depends on the pressure of the section you're fishing. The farther you can get away from an access point, the better your chances at catching larger bass.

As I mentioned before the Nueces River experienced two historic floods in Oc. 2018 which drastically changed the river bed (look at Google Earth historical imagery to see the difference) and I do not feel the larger bass have bounced back. I bring a snorkel with me and sometimes after I fish a pool, I'll swim around looking at structure and I have not seen decent sized bass since the flood. Good populations of small to average bass, catfish, and sunfish; though.

The Llano also had a historic flood in Oct. 2018, but I do not have first hand knowledge of how it affected the fish populations or whether or not the river bed had any drastic changes as Google Earth just has pre-flood imagery for most of that river.
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