Off to the River

I hit the river trail again with a beautiful blue sky and no wind. Again…no wind. Two consecutive river trips with no wind??? I could get used to this, but I know it’s short lived around these parts. It won’t be too long before it gets back to the daily howl. This week there wasn’t any fog and was a little warmer. It started in the upper thirties, and I was layered, but within the first half hour I was already sweating and shedding a few of the thicker layers. It would be different if I was just sitting in the yak for hours, but that’s never the case, not around here. It’s a lot of work fishing these rivers, and it’s a true workout. I’m out just as much as i’m in. Pushing, pulling, dragging, falling, cussing, but that’s part of the allure to me. Not a a whole lot of folks enjoy working so hard just to get away from everything. But this is my psychiatrist, my mental rehabilitater, or in computer terms…my restart. That may sound kinda silly, but I think most paddlers understand where i’m coming from.

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This trip I decided to go a different approach and head further than usual. Time restraints are the usual reason for not being able to cover more river, but I had more time today. It gets more and more remote the further I go, and much harder for anyone other than ranch owners to get to. The river covers a wide range of body types. It will go from fast, narrow rapids that are four feet wide to big open pools 200 feet wide and a quarter mile long. Some spots are 50 yards of walking in 3 inches of water then drop to 12 feet deep for the next 50 yards. Oh, and of course the lovely portages around dams. I ended up covering seven river miles this day.

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Speaking of the rapids, there was one that caught me off guard. As I was walking through a shallow area I could hear a roar up ahead. Not a typical sound for this river. I knew the river was up some, and I knew the next little rapid can be fun, but I didn’t expect the volume that was flying through it. It was reminiscent of the Pecos River, albeit on a smaller scale, but still gave me that rush for a brief moment as it brought me back to that sacred river down south. I started to line up the yak and just before I jumped in for the ride, my conscience got the best of me. I realized I broke one of my major rules of solo river running. No float plan. I didn’t tell anyone what I was doing today. Nobody knew where I was or where I was going. My only excuse is my wife is out of town on business, and I didn’t think to tell anyone else my plans, since it was kinda last minute. Big no-no. The difference between them finding my body could be, later today or next week. Ewwww. Twenty years ago there would be no hesitation, just run it. I’m an old man now, and a little more safety minded in the yak. And that water’s cold. I flip and get flushed thirty feet into the deep pool at the end, things could get bad for me. I reluctantly lined it down and kept on moving. (hindsight…I shoulda done it…what a wuss.)

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Most look like this and have to be walked over.

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I didn’t take much gear thinking if I went lighter, it would be easier to drag or portage. It helped a lot, but also hurt when I needed something that was sitting on the bedroom floor by my tackle box. I brought two rods and a small bag with a few lures, a dozen hooks, a couple bullet weights, and 7-8 bags of plastics. I really wasn’t planning on doing a lot of fishing, more scoping things out for future runs. I did bring my small camera in my pfd and my big camera in a pelican sitting up front with me.

I ended up with seven bass for the day ranging from the small to one that came close to four pounds. All were caught on the same plastic and color, just changed my presentation around as I went along.

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One of them was very unique, or I should say, not normal around here. It didn’t have the black lateral line, but very blotchy black spots. It still looked like a largemouth, but wasn’t wearing it’s formal attire. I didn’t care, it hit hard and had enough spunk to pull my yak around. I like those.

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As the morning turned to afternoon, I was still plugging along through the gorgeous river life, wishing I didn’t have to leave, but already planning my return. It’s amazing how relaxing it is to get your butt kicked up and down by a river in the pursuit of happiness. Then again, maybe i’m just weird.

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Overall, an awesome day. I can’t wait to get back again.

Whoa, I caught 7 fish, went 7 miles, was gone 7 hours. Glad I didn’t get one less of each, that would’ve been a devil of a trip. lolĀ  thank you, i’ll be here all week, try the veal.

Thanks for coming along,

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Scott Gartman

Scott Gartman

Scott Gartman is a photographer and filmmaker. He is also an avid fisherman, kayaker, backpacker, and overall outdoorsman. His accolades are too many to list, as with the many streets and towns named after him. He's a legend in his own mind. Check out his home page at

One thought on “Off to the River

  • December 11, 2015 at 4:19 pm

    Just another great tale of the beautiful outdoors, Scott. I’m trying to figure out if all of these adventures are on the South Concho unless otherwise stated.


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