TexasKayakFisherman.com est. 2000

Kayak fishing the Lone Star State...


#1894292
This is my second trip down the Devils and we decided to do 5 days instead of 4. We put in at the Devil's River SNA (Del Norte Unit) using Gerald Bailey as our Shuttle Service as usual. Now, instead of taking out at Blue Sage, you have to take out at the new Devil's Back take out (Top part of the new Big Satan unit being developed but currently closed to the public) which is about 6 miles farther than I have ever done before. The weather was less than cooperative most of the days. :roll: From the cold North Wind on the first day and the near freezing temperature the first night, to the crazy south east wind that would whitecap the longest pools, and even some light drizzle one morning, made the ONE nice day we had on the river seem like paradise. If you have never done the trip before, just be prepared for any and all conditions. Pack EVERYTHING in dry bags because there is a good chance you will turn over at least once in one of the many rapids. The water was way down this year so most of the rapids required some scooting and dragging. This was the first time I didn't flip even once, but a few in our group did. We found some nice hidden camp spots on a few islands that we got the chance to explore but most nights we slept on hot or cold rock islands in the river. The new regulations require you to use Waste Anti-Gelling Bags (WAG bags) when you have to take a dump which you must keep on or in your yak until you take out :x Needless to say, this was the stinkiest part of the trip. Next time, I would bring some kind of air tight bucket or something so you and your fellow paddlers don't have to put up with the smell that follows. The wag bags seal up great and are even double bagged but somehow, the smell seems to get through. Just one more way the state seems to discourage people from doing this river. The game wardens will check to make sure you have enough wag bags for your trip. The fishing was slower than normal, probably because of the weather. My friend, Lonnie has been down the devils 38 times and he caught about 40 fish, I caught 28, Cody and Frankie caught a little over 20 each and my wife caught around 13 (she blames the WAG bags :lol: ). Most were Smallmouth, with a few Largemouths, 3 Catfish, 1 Perch and 1 Needlenose Gar. I did catch my personal best Smallmouth which weighed 5lbs according to my Boga Grips and my wife and a few of my friends caught some over 4lbs as well. I probably managed to lose about 10-15 fish just because Smallies are little ninjas when it comes to shaking the hooks out even the hardest hook sets. :cry: We released every fish that we caught. Anyway, we all used Jackson Coosa's to run the river. There is just TONS of storage in them with front and back hatches that you can secure all your gear and your rods when running rapids. They can turn on a dime so you can pick the right route down the rapids, and you can even use your seat as a camp chair for the night. I just don't know of a better river fishing boat. Everyone was even able to stand and cast with ease even in high winds. The extra 6 miles from blue sage to the Devil's back take out was just absolutely gorgeous and had some fun rapids as well. I will try to do this trip every year if I can. This is one of the cleanest, most beautiful, and remote rivers in Texas. It can be a real pain in the @$$ and will throw you a curve ball somehow if you take it for granted. But we always say that "the Devils River is not a trip, it's an adventure." Keep that in mind and you will never be disappointed. :wink:

Here is a list of gear we use:

Yaks: Jackson Coosas - We add drag chains, and anchors (which you will need for windy days that you WILL have), 5-6 foot pull ropes for getting around tough rapids and shallow water and at least one 20 foot rope for portaging around Dolan Falls and guiding your yak past the cliffs to where you can get back in.

Paddles: I love the Werner Kalliste, My wife uses an Aquabound Manta Ray Carbon, Lonnie has a Werner Kimano, and the other guys had Bending Branches I think.

Dry Bags: Seal Line Tapered 35L size. (about 60 bucks each :shock: ) 2 of these should hold all of your sleeping gear and tents and all your clothes. And they fit well in most front hatches. Then a see through 10L Seal Line works great for toiletries. Then another small dry bag of your choice for snacks. All together 4 good dry bags per yak should work.

Tents: A Eureka Backcountry 1 is the perfect one man tent that sets up easy and doesn't weigh much. Bring a set of 4 guy lines per tent that you can use to secure your tent to rocks, brush, or your kayak for those windy nights. There was only one or maybe two camp spots that you could actually use tent stakes on. It's hard to find these tents for sale anywhere anymore, I don't know if they have discontinued them or what. I recommend a small tarp to smooth out the harsh surfaces you will be sleeping on so that you don't destroy your tent bottom.

Bedding: I don't know about you guys but sleeping on rocks after a hard day of paddling is NOT fun. Maybe I am just getting old. This year we tried the Nemo Cosmo insulated air mattress in the medium size (fits great into the Eureka Backcountry and has a built in pump). It weighs less than 3lbs and has a compression strap that makes it fit in your dry bag well. They were super comfortable and by far the best we have ever used and easiest to inflate/deflate. The exped synmat 7 is a good air mattress and so is the aerobed pakmat but it can be hard to find. A small lightweight sleeping bag with a compression bag or a zippered fleece blanket should suffice unless you are going in the colder months. Some kind of small inflatable pillow or equivalent. One other thing that helps me at night is one good Advil or Tylenol PM helps me sleep quick after a long day of paddling and fishing, but that could be just me.

Clothes: Dress in Layers, lightweight, quick dry, long sleeve shirts and pants will save you from having to constantly apply sunscreen as you will be getting in and out of the water for rapids and camp, etc. Columbia, Magellan, the North Face, H20 Express, and REI all have good versions of these in pants and shirts. GOOD SHOES. This year I tried TEVA surge shoes and they worked great, some of the other guys tried Zekos and Columbia PFG brand shoes that did well. My wife LOVES the Merrill PaceGlove shoes she bought and said they were quick dry and held up well. A good hat and polarized shades will go along way to helping you sight fish the extremely clear water.

Necessities: WAG bags (can be bought online or at most surplus stores), Toilet paper, Sunscreen, Chap Stick, Insect repellant, a good PFD, an Extra paddle, a water purification system (The devil's is the cleanest river in Texas and I have seen people just drink the water straight but we still run it through a Katadyne filter and fill our Nalgene bottles each day, this saves weight from carrying water on your yak. Gatorade powder or Hydration tablets - don't just drink water without sodium or electrolytes, a guy died on the river last year from dehydration doing that.) Food. 4 out of 5 of our yaks had coolers full of food and drinks secured very well and secured closed in case of flipping. (We use dry ice on bottom and wet ice on top and still had cool drinks on the 5th day) You need a DRAP permit for each day on the river, your fishing license, and you must carry them on your yak at all times. Heavy duty trash bags so you don't leave trash in the cleanest river in Texas. A first aid kit for sure, the limestone rocks can be sharp and will scrape you up often. Good flashlights a small camp stove. There are NO open fires allowed as there is a burn ban for Val Verde county and has been for a long time.


Sorry for the long post, but I know there is alot of people that want to do this river and alot of discussion on what to bring so I thought I would share all that I have learned from my past two trips. Hope you will get your chance to dance with Devil someday. It's an experience you will never forget. :wink:
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Starting out at the SNA
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#1894297
A fish story
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Towards the take out the water went from 2ft to 22 feet in some places.
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This guy stole my hook the first time but I got it back 15 minutes later, notice a hook in each side of his mouth. Sometimes they don't learn quick.
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one nice day with no wind
#1894302
more Smallies
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wife told me she saw a fish behind her, pointed to a spot. I casted there and BAM! This 3.5 lb smallmouth came jumping out. Gotta love her.
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This girl was full of eggs and went 5lbs, doesn't look that big but the Boga grips are very accurate.
#1894322
Great pics and thanks for sharing! Those are some nice looking smallies. That trip is definitely on my hit list...now to figure out how to get 5 days off. How frequent are the campable islands and rocks? Do you have a good choice of where to camp, or would you be limited to certain distances per day is what I'm getting at.
#1894401
I wouldnt carry my own poop in a WAG bag. I would bring the bags just to be legal but I wouldnt use them. Thats just gross. All the animals get to poop on the ground so why cant humans?

I havent been down there in a few years. Its a nice stretch of river.
#1894506
Warthog wrote:Great pics and thanks for sharing! Those are some nice looking smallies. That trip is definitely on my hit list...now to figure out how to get 5 days off. How frequent are the campable islands and rocks? Do you have a good choice of where to camp, or would you be limited to certain distances per day is what I'm getting at.


You could do the same trip in 3 days if you didn't fish real hard. I would say there are plenty of campsites once you get to 3 tier rapids. The first campsite we use is the first islands on the left once you round two bends below Dolan Falls but, if you didn't fish the state natural area real hard like we did, then I would recommend going all the way to the island just above 3 tier rapids or the one just after 3 tier rapids has even more room. The lower portion has plenty of islands so you can do as much or as little as you want depending on how much fishing vs paddling you want to do. Next time there will be pools that we skip to get to more productive spots.


daveg99 wrote:I wouldnt carry my own poop in a WAG bag. I would bring the bags just to be legal but I wouldnt use them. Thats just gross. All the animals get to poop on the ground so why cant humans?


I totally agree, it's ridiculous. But your shuttle service will check to see that you have them or the game wardens who paddle the river will. Then they can deny your next permit :roll: I just don't want to risk losing access to this incredible place.
#1894962
just eat alot of cheese and no fiber prior
daveg99 wrote:I wouldnt carry my own poop in a WAG bag. I would bring the bags just to be legal but I wouldnt use them. Thats just gross. All the animals get to poop on the ground so why cant humans?

I havent been down there in a few years. Its a nice stretch of river.
#1895548
daveg99 wrote:I wouldnt carry my own poop in a WAG bag. I would bring the bags just to be legal but I wouldnt use them. Thats just gross. All the animals get to poop on the ground so why cant humans?

I havent been down there in a few years. Its a nice stretch of river.


On rivers where you can walk far enough from the water to dispose of your doodies properly it wouldn't be an issue. But since you can't leave the river on the Devil's, that's why they are asking you to pack it out.

If the river starts to get more popular you could end up with human crap all in the water. Maybe you should do some research as to why this isn't a good thing.
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