Put In: Hwy 59 North of Carthage, TX
Take Out: FM 2517, SE of Carthage, TX
Along on this trip was Jacob one of my 3 boys and 8 members of the DDRC. This trip was originally scheduled for March 8-10 but was pulled in due to trying to hit the white bass run on the river. We just felt like the warmer weather and recent rains plus good reports that this would be a better weekend. We all met Friday morning at the Hwy 59 boat ramp. Once everyone was unloaded the drivers drove down to FM 2517 to drop off the vehicles. I was the driver who drove everyone back upstream in my truck and left it parked at HWY 59. We all got on the water about 10:45am. It was a partly cloudy cool day with temps in the upper 40s and river flowing about 960cfs. This flow is much lower than last year’s flood at 6000cfs. Anytime I can get away to a river it is a gift. Paddling down a river is very relaxing for me. That very first stroke of the paddle pushing the kayak along and starting the day is such a great feeling. When I paddle by myself I quickly get zoned into a paddling rhythm and get caught up in the sights sounds of the river. I have to be careful when I am with a group as I tend to just move out front and briefly forget they are back there.
I was in a must catch fish situation. I had dinners packed for Jacob but I decided to force the fish option and came without dinners for me. It was a quick paddle down to where we expected to catch the majority of our fish, Black Shoals. This is a coal shoal with about a 12-20 inch drop. There are multiple holes below the shoal the fish tend to congregate in them. Once there I tied off to a log in the middle of the river and got out to wade the shoal and find me a hole. Of course I left the wetsuit in the truck and the guys fishing from their powerboats looked at me like I had two heads when the saw me wading. Most of the time I was just above my knees or up tom my crotch but on occasional slip into hole up to my neck. I was plenty far away from the powerboat guys and stayed out of their holes. I took me about 10 minutes to find a hole with fish and feel the bite. The bite was very light and you had to be on it. Once I got in the groove I yanked dinner out pretty quick then caught the next night’s dinner also. I managed 4 white bass, 3 crappie, and a gasper goo. I guess you could call that a Sabine Slam. Then I caught and released several more whites and gasper goos before we decided to make our way on down river to our first nights campsite, about 12 miles for the day.
Just as we pulled up I started thinking that I forgot to pack my propane stove. So I put Jake to work collecting firewood while I set up camp. Then we dug and Indian stove. Jake got his birds nest ready then with a couple of strikes of his fire steel he had fire. The rest of the group pulled in and setup. Later I cooked Jake’s dinner on the Indian stove that he made. I elected to join in the fish fry with everyone else as long as I shared some of my Crappie, that was a tough decision. The evening was partly cloudy so temps did not drop so bad and we all enjoyed sitting around the fire telling stories form trips past listening to the owls and coyotes. About midnight the clouds cleared and the morning temps was about 34 with some frost on our sleeping bags and everything was wet. The sun came out and it quickly warmed up and I got things dried out and packed up.
Jacob and I were paddling by 9:45 and the first on the water. I told Bryan I would look for a place a few miles past the 79 bridge on river left which would put us at 10 miles for the day and about 8 remaining for Sunday morning. Jake and I paddled and soaked up the sights and sounds of early morning on the river. We saw a few small pigs scurrying through brush and a raccoon trying to climb out of the river bank. The poor fella just kept falling back down and looking at us like we were going to come get him. Finally he managed to scratch and claw up the bank then just stood at the top and starred and Jake and I like “Come and get me now”. Well, mile 10 came and we pulled up on a little sandbar on river left which had limited real estate and zero firewood. I elected to keep paddling and mile 10 turned into mile 14 really quick and but I just did not see anything suitable. Then we came upon a couple of sandbars on river left which had both real estate to accompany everyone in the group and gobs of firewood. Jake and I got setup and firewood collected then the others started to arrive. We had another group fish fry that night and some other made brisket quesadillas and chicken wings with sides of rice, beans. I made a Dutch Oven peach cobbler for desert.
The temperature dropped quickly with the clear skies. We sat by the fire for a bit then Jake and I decided to call it an early night and crawled in our bags. Of course I rarely put up a tent so the next morning we were covered with frost as it got down to 27-28. There was a good thick layer of fog flowing down the river. Jake and I made our omletes then I dried everything out in the intense morning sun. It was only about 2.5 to 3 miles to the take out and we were just paddled and fished as we went along. There were probably 6-8 powerboats along the way, with most catching fish. This was another great trip to add to many more coming up for 2013.
Here are a few pictures from the trip.
Sabine Slam (Crappie, White Bass, Gasper Goo)
First nights camp and sunset
My camp first morning
Looking down the river, last day