TexasKayakFisherman.com est. 2000

Kayak fishing the Lone Star State...

If you're looking for a nice sedate river, with mild rapids, few portages, and great scenery--then this ain't it! I think someone mentioned that there were rocks, but did they mention that there were rocks upon rocks, rocks in the rapids, house size rocks, car size rocks, little rocks, big rocks--rocks that jump out and get you? No, I don't think they did. Couple that with an inappropriate boat for such a river and you are in turtle heaven. Turtle--meaning turn over.

The first couple of rapids I did went very well. I was thinking--hey! This is alright! It was the third or fourth rapid section that changed my mind a bit. It must have been 1/4 mile long and dropped a pretty good amount. Only trouble was that there was no path through for a 28" X 18' boat. You had to step your way down and criss cross to make the run with out portaging. This set up the first of my many turtles. I turtled at least five times--maybe more. Heck--I turtled twice in the last 1/4 mile of the race within site of the yellow cone and a group of people that pointed toward the finish line--which was over a fairly steep island, through some more water, and collapse on the shore. There was NO path in the last 1/2 mile that my boat could easily negotiate.

Did I mention that people pass you when you turtle, have to gather everything up, empty the water out of the boat, and jump back in? I didn't think so. I could catch and pass the little boats in the few flat areas but they would pass me again in the rapids. In one pretty nasty rapid I tried to put my boat through an 18" slot that cut back on itself. Another turtle! There WAS one rapid that was wide enough and pretty deep--except for the big rock at the top. My boat made that rapid rock solid--like it was on rails. Didn't get a drop of water in the boat. Of course--I wasn't IN the boat. I was under it. In one particularly interesting rapid my boat got pinned underwater by the water rushing over a huge boulder. Took awhile to get it out of that.

So...it was a very good and interesting trip. There were waaaaaaay more than 100 boats there. The ideal boat appears to be between 12 and 16', plastic, with plenty of rocker. I'd think that a 14' boat about 24" wide would be good. Kind of like an overgrown white water boat.

Darrell had a hurt knee and was sick so he was unable to attend. Ron (bowgarguide) was there and he did very well. You'll have to hear his story when he gets back tomorrow.

These comments are just off the top of my head. I just got home. With any luck at all I'll be able to block this episode from my mind with a little sleep. Maybe I'll bang my head against a brick wall next time I decide to do the Great Castell River Race.

I'll damn sure have a different boat.
I never been from HWY 87 to Castell, so I didn't offer any advice.

I have paddled from the confluence of the James river to Simmonsville road (West of 87 about 5 miles) and yes there were lots of rocks...........every size.

I didn't turtle but I sure walked my yak down a few fast drops.

Better luck next time!!!
:lol: Ain't nuthin' like a nice quiet paddle in a granite stream, is there? I've cowboyed that country in eons gone by, taken impromptu cowboy baths in that river (that's bail off the horse, strip down and go sit in a hole and let your body temperature go down), and done other, less appropriate things from time to time, but kayak...no! Might go try the race next year...maybe I can set a record for slowest time on record! Heck, Gerald, you weren't gonna do anything better today, anyway! Well done!
Hey--I had a blast, though I was wasted at the end. I did manage to finish in 3 hours and 22 minutes. That was my goal--to finish. Once I quit trying to go fast down the rapids and just tried to make it through I did better. Quite interesting.
gerald wrote:Hey--I had a blast, though I was wasted at the end. I did manage to finish in 3 hours and 22 minutes. That was my goal--to finish. Once I quit trying to go fast down the rapids and just tried to make it through I did better. Quite interesting.

:) :)
It's like I tell my track kids...first, ya gotta finish. When we get that down, we'll start workin' on other stuff! :clap:
Wow, didn't expect a report so soon -- good going Gerald, you're an animal!!

I spent a week and a half fly fishing that very stretch of river last Fall, in my Merlin canoe. Only turtled once. Actually, didn't turtle, just kinda dumped myself overboard, lost nothing else from the boat, and recovered easily. But I need to be quick to say that I wasn't running no race, and was being double extra tippy-toe cautious since I'm a neophyte river rat at best, didn't care to crunch my canoe, and had the whole darn place all to myself with no chance for help if I bit off more'n I could chew.

The boat that came in third place last year is sitting in my yard right now. A plastic Valley Nordkapp (18' x 21" sea kayak). This year woulda been a lot rougher for that boat, I'm guessing.

On a side note, this is shaping up to be one of the more grueling Texas Water Safaris years, with such low, slow water and hot, hot temps. Ouch!
Hopefully everyone realizes that my comments have been mostly tongue in cheek--though all true! This was a great race--well worth doing. This section of the Llano would also make a very nice 2 day fishing/exploring trip. I have seen many very scenic sections of different rivers but I've always been going fairly fast. No time to take pictures. In the future I'm going to slow down, start taking pictures, and write out a report of as many sections as I can. With all the dunkings I took my camera got wet. I had to let it dry out, cleaned it up--and it works. Unfortunately I didn't take many pictures before the race, and certainly none after.
Here are a few.
Check in table.jpg

Bridge over the Llano.jpg

Boats all the way to the bridge.jpg

Looking at the river.jpg

Bridges from on the water.jpg

I also want to add that the campground where we checked in is pretty nice. Consider using it if you're making a trip up this way.
ALL paddling should be FUN. :D If it ain't, it needs to be paying fair wages. My little capsize on the Llano was a highlight of the trip! :lol:

I second Gerald's endorsement of the park in the pictures: It's a particularly well-run RV park that allows tent camping, has an excellent bathhouse, offers "free" WiFi, washer/dryer shed, and fronts the Llano river immediately off Hwy 87 about ~12 miles south of Mason. Not the cheapest place I've ever seen, but all the above keeps it a good fair deal. It's also ten minutes from Cooper's BBQ, and the Cooper's in Mason is the best of the three; the others being in Junction and Llano (I've heard a rumor a fourth location has opened in New Braunfels).
Pogo wrote:ALL paddling should be FUN. :D It's also ten minutes from Cooper's BBQ, and the Cooper's in Mason is the best of the three; the others being in Junction and Llano (I've heard a rumor a fourth location has opened in New Braunfels).

:D Your rumor is confirmed. It's on the south side of Hwy 46, just west of the Common street intersection. The quality is there! I do regular quality control checks! I also do regular QC checks @the Luling City Market, too! I'm a full service inspector!
I had a ball
This was my first kayak race and the first time on the LLano,it was quite an experience.
We all lined up , at last count 154 folks entered and started the race, I was enjoying watching all the boats and a guy in a K1 that had to keep paddling back and forth ,that dang boat was so narrow if he stopped paddling it would flip.
The gun went of and here we go, I knew I would burn out trying to keep up with the front runners,so I just set my pace and started working up thru the second bunch,boy this is fun,then here comes the rapids and here we go,a lot of 1 to three foot drops,then we hit the walls,two walls out in the river 6 or 8 ft apart ,once you started in it was hang on and play pin ball till you got thru,then rocks in front of you hard left ,this was a story that occur ed over and over,my boat is 15 ft 5 inches and that is as long as I would want to paddle.
A few miles down the river I picked the wrong line and wound up sideways and the hung up luckily ,where I stopped I could look down the right side of the boat at a straight 3 ft drop.well I managed to get unstuck back in the boat and off again. The we paddle up on a old dam across the river it is from 6 to 8 ft high and you cant see whats below you,I paddled up looked picked what I hoped was the best line and over I went ,was a pretty good line until you got half way down ,yep a big rock right in the middle . I managed to get the nose of the boat by it skidded of of it hit another rock that straightened me back up,that was a OHHH s@@tmoment.
The last mile was a huge rock garden I hung up got out and led the boat thru,was really getting tired,started to get back in the boat turtles big time,caught all my stuff started to get back in turtles again, finally got in the boat on the third try headed for the finish line. then the worst part to me we had to drag across a Island about 50 yards then wade the last few yards to the bank,I was whooped ,I lost 5 places going across the island.
I am going to break this here
Summary of my first race
It was a blast and I will do it again,my boat handled perfect the new paddle I had was great ,thanks again HOT Kayak
Gerald and I had the only two wooden boats and they both drew a lot of comments.
This being my first attempt at this I didnt know if it was a tough race or not.
The only time the old boat got passed was when I was hung up in the rapids,I could run off and leave the tupper ware boats,made an old codger feel good.
Now fellows the ones that have built boats out of polyester,don't ever let them tell you they want stand up ,you cant get much rougher on a boat than I did this weekend,and she stood up fine.
From talking to folks that have run this for several years,the water level being up a little made for more rapids ,I think I just got out of the boat 3 times and then it was just get it unhung and get back in, never really had to drag the boat.
I was tickled with the race I came in 10 behind Gerald and 20 minutes behind him ,was number 33 out of 154 and I finished
Not bad for a old man and a rookie.
Hey Ron, 33 ain't bad . . . . ain't bad at all! :D Is that to say Gerald came in 23rd? For a first time on the river with no pre-run scouting trip or anything, I'd say you guys were cookin'!

Great report, was almost like I was there. I reckon there'll be some talk about building the perfect boat for this race next year, and I'll be a-listenin'. Gerald, you already on the drawing board? Ron, you laying out chalk lines on the shop floor? 8)
Due to the knee injury and virus I am kinda glad I could not go with ya'll, after reading the reports.

Seriously, I am sorry for backing out. I do not like people telling they are going to do something and then not following thru and for that I am sorry for letting you guys down.
Gerald was 22
guess I was 11 behind him Dahhh
I have the boat,I couldnt have ask more than she gave ,plenty fast,stable floated shallow enough. I think I got lucky and just had the right boat for this little shindig.
Oh a side note this is the first time I have Turtled in 2 years so that will give you an ideal how wild it was.
DarrellS wrote:Due to the knee injury and virus I am kinda glad I could not go with ya'll, after reading the reports.

Seriously, I am sorry for backing out. I do not like people telling they are going to do something and then not following thru and for that I am sorry for letting you guys down.

Darrell...you didn't let us down. No way would I have done the race with a bad knee and being sick. As for using your boat for this race--you could have done it if you had known to portage those rapids that you couldn't ride down. However, we didn't know that! This was our first time on the Llano (but not the last). I tried to run them fast and couldn't do it. I had to slow down, study them, pick the line, and go. There were a couple where I avoided the rapids and just shot off over a high edge. The long boat was good for that. The dam that had the really rough chute that dropped about 4' I was able to ride--but only after giving it a good look, backing off, and hitting it with speed. There were some rapids that I shouldn't have even attempted...but I attempted ALL of them. Didn't make all of them though. This was really different from any race course I've ever been on. Certainly not easy but not as bad as I made it. Next time I'll do a lot better. You can come then.

At the beginning of the race a lot of people predicted that our wood composite boats would be in splinters by the end of the race. Mine suffered very little damage. A little sand and recoat and I'm good to go. Couple of the really competitive paddlers studied the boat after the race and said they were impressed. One is even going to give the graphite impregnated epoxy coat a try on one of his boats.
And...I'm going to have to get a bunch of cards printed. At least a half dozen people wanted cards and I have none! It was really a pretty good day. I'm a little sore but not as bad as I figured I would be.
Pogo wrote: Gerald, you already on the drawing board?

Yeah...I'm thinking....

...thinking how I can build a boat that will be good for the Great Castell River Race AND the Neches River Wilderness Canoe race. Can't say they are similar--one filled with rocks, the other with logs, stumps, and stobs, trees, strainers, and sweepers, but I think a single boat would serve for both races....

Blast!! I want to hear more -- BBQ??? :shock:

But before any of that, to Darrell: I'm glad you turned up unable to attend also. It was an honest thing, you didn't let anyone down, and now everybody can relax about your stripper. :lol: :lol: :lol:

But seriously, how ya doing? Okay, I hope. I'm confident you'd've never backed out easily, and have been wondering what gotcha. :D

Gerald: Isn't it too cool? I want one too!! 8)
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