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Kayak fishing the Lone Star State...


#2128181
I've been curious to see what's inside a state park screened shelter, so I stopped off at Martin Dies Jr. state park and had myself a looky loo. I visited both sides of the park, Hen House Ridge and Walnut Ridge. I was expecting to see some sort of bed inside the screened shelter but only found a picnic table, broom, light, and duplex receptacle. After seeing lots of debris and limbs that have been knocked down by recent storms, I understand why a screened shelter may be a better choice than a tent. Hen House Ridge has a self pay box for day use at the gate. I discovered this after waiting for the office to open at 8AM. I walked the Slough trail and the connecting trail over to Sandy Creek park and saw lots of squirrels but no other wildlife or waterfowl.
Walnut Ridge was open for day use only, no camping yet. State park employees were working to clear storm debris throughout the Walnut Ridge unit. Yellow Do Not Enter tape was stretched across the trail heads at the Walnut Slough day use area, but I did get to walk out on to the observation bridge. There were lots of rental canoes and kayaks staged there at the Walnut Slough parking lot.
The park is in a scenic area, is clean, and has canoes and kayaks for rent. This could be a good place for first time paddlers.
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Hen House Unit screened shelters
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shelter #38 on Gum Slough
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screened shelter interior
#2128208
That is a nice place. Took my daughter there 2 years ago and wondered why everyone was tacking tarps up on the screen shelters when we made camp. We absolutely froze that night with the wind coming in off the lake.

Also, I am a very light sleeper as would wake up every time a car crossed the bridge. Wish it was further from the highway. There is some beautiful paddling there though and we put the yak in right behind our screen shelter.
#2128258
Fin-Addict wrote:I'm trying to plan an outing/mini vacation with the family (32 of us total)

Is there a shallow area where the kids could swim/play in the water?

Yes, there is a designated swim area at the Hen House Ridge unit. It's located in the day use area of the park. Some folks are be a bit reluctant to swim in brown water. Worried about what lies beneath.
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#2135619
I found that most Texas State parks screen shelters are all about the same size and all in good to great shape. But not all have ac and haven't seen one with heating. We found they can get REAL COLD at night in winter when the cover are off or you have no tarps to cover the walls. Just ask the Beekeeper.
#2136689
This place is one of my favorites and we always stay on the wood ridge side, seems to be a little more secluded. and the paddling trail that goes around the island is a good one. I have never seen so many gators in my life as I did the first summer we went there. there are only a few screen shelters that I consider prime for kayakers that have bank access to launch from and able to leave them just pulled up on the bank, a lot of them have bulk heads or it is very wooded in front. Hoping to go back soon
#2137162
Ronny wrote:This place is one of my favorites and we always stay on the wood ridge side, seems to be a little more secluded. and the paddling trail that goes around the island is a good one. I have never seen so many gators in my life as I did the first summer we went there. there are only a few screen shelters that I consider prime for kayakers that have bank access to launch from and able to leave them just pulled up on the bank, a lot of them have bulk heads or it is very wooded in front. Hoping to go back soon



Can you tell me which shelters you can shore launch from? I'm thinking about around shelter #10. Thanks!!
#2139835
Thanks for posting. I have not been up there in a while. Used to fish it alot its right down the road from some property we have. Caught some nice fish in Sandy Creek Park Area. The lake record was caught there about 15 years ago by one of the TPW biologist and came in at 12-13 lbs. If you get bored in the yak you can get out and walk the creek back up to the road and pick up some nice fish there as well. It's hit or miss on the water clarity, depends on the run off up stream from the Angelina and Neches and how much water they are letting out for the rice farmers down in the Beaumont, China area for the LNVA. The lake was originally impounded for that reason. Back in the mid to late 50's it was the hot spot for that area primarily due to the fact that the other lakes like Rayburn and Toledo were not there yet. Any way it you go check out the Sandy Creek Park. And yes there are a few gators but nothing to get overly excited about. Now you got me all exited to go back but I may wait till all of this run off settles down.
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#2141485
I stay at the north side shelters every fall. You can ask the Park ranger for a lift to canoe drop in up stream and spend 4-5 hrs on the water and paddle right up to camp. Camping is permitted at remote sites outside of park too.

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