Put in: Hwy 59, North of Carthage, Texas
Take out: FM2517, Southeast of Carthage, Texas
Distance Paddled: 31 miles
Mar 18, 2011
Along on this trip is Jacob, myself and Ben my 10yr old Dachshund. This is the first time on this river since I was a boy. We got up early and started driving to East Texas. We stopped at a Denny’s for a good breakfast about 20 miles West of Hwy 59. We got to the ramp at Hwy 59 about 8am and started unloading. Bryan Jackson from DDRC showed up a bit after 9am and then Gene, Tom and Charlene also from DDRC arrived. We got our shuttles run downriver and all got on the water about 11am. It was not long before we started pulling in some small white bass. We were all taking our time and fishing along the way. This river is a slow flat water paddle with the river making many bends. About 2-3 miles downriver we came to a shoal that was about a 2 foot drop off. There were a lot of folks fishing there. We all pulled our boats over the shoal and then beached them. I stood in the river catching large white bass one after another from a hole just down from the shoal. I really enjoy wading in a river and following the fish as they move around in those holes. Jake was busy studying the geology of this little formation. He discovered that the shoal seemed to be made of a soft and hard black material then found several chunks of coal in the bottom of the river. I stopped fishing so we could manage some lunch then we went on our way downriver. We paddled about 2-3 miles past the FM1794 bridge and made camp on one of many sandbars along the rivers edge. I had picked up about 20 nice white bass during the day and started cleaning fish. Once camp was made I got dinner going for Jake. He wanted a dried meal (Fettuccine Alfredo) and I was having fish. Jake managed to get the fire lit with my fire steel and some dried grass. He quickly learned why you need to have all of your kindling ready to go when you sit down to make fire. It burned up on him right away and nearly went out due to not getting enough fuel on it to start and get hot. He managed to scurry around and keep it going. He also got to see that his coal he picked up earlier in the day burned quite well once the fire was hot. After dinner we sat by the fire for a bit and Jake crawled in the tent and I grabbed my bag and went by the fire.
Mar 19, 2011
I got up at my normal 4:30 and revived the fire and made some coffee. There was a very heavy dew and my bag was soaked and the moon was in full force. The owls were busy up and down the river and large fish or beaver were constantly causing stirs in the river. After a couple of hours the moon set and the Cardinals began to sing to the start of a new day. I got Jake up about 7 and made some omelets then we packed up and were on the river by 8:30. Once again taking our time fishing early I caught 20-25 fish and kept 3 for dinner. I am amazed at how there are no rocks in this river it is all sand. For the Indians that used to call this home I am sure that a flint rock or any hard rock would have been a real prize. We would paddle through stretches of pines then back to hardwoods with a sandbar at every bend. About 10am Jake spotted a coyote running along the river bank right toward us. We kept quite and still and then he finally saw us and took off into the trees. We made a few comments about it and then here comes another one following the same path with his nose to the ground. He got up right besides be before he realized I was there and Ben started barking at him. I thought Ben was going to jump off of the yak and go after that Coyote. We paddled until about 3:30 which was about 2 miles past the HWY 79 bridge, about 15 miles for the day. Jake was a real trooper and paddled it all but he was tired. About 5pm another DDRC member who put in at FM1794 caught up to us (Richard Lind). I made Jake the dried Beef Stroganoff and I had fish and potatoes. I gathered up some fire kindling and some dry grass along with some larger logs for the fire. One stroke of my fire steel into the dry grass covered with small kindling and that fire took off like you had put gas on it. Jake ate his dinner and went right to bed again. I made my way to the fire and slept until about 2:30 when the roar of Richard the Sabine king of snore woke me up. You could not get far enough away for any peace and me being such a light sleeper it was all over. About 4am I heard something swimming across the river toward the far end of our sandbar. I walked down there and there were 5-6 hogs getting out just as I got there. I was downwind about 100ft and stood still. The moon was very bright and you could see very well. They never saw me and they just moseyed on up into the forest.
March 20, 2011
I sat in my chair and had some coffee and waited for daylight to get Jake up for an omelet. We picked up camp and were on the river by 8am. It was a nice crisp morning with a little touch of river fog. I did not fish much and we paddled pretty solid for 2 hours. Along the way we did come along some pretty stands of pines and some shale out cropping against the rivers edges with many seeping water into the river. We also spotted an otter having some breakfast on a log in the river. He was a bit camera shy. We arrived at our take out at FM2517 about 11:20. I got us loaded up and then Brian arrived. We got his stuff carried to the top of the ramp and then loaded him, Richard and Charlene in my truck and drove them back up to HWY 59 to pick up their vehicles.
This was a nice leisurely paddle and I very much enjoy going some place new. I will be back for more along this river and think it would be great to paddle for a week or so on into Toledo Bend Reservoir then take out on the south end of the lake somewhere.
Here are a few pictures of our tour.
See you on the water,
Jake Making a Wake
First nights camp
Second nights camp