The Devil Made Me Do It

Sometimes things just work out. Rare for me, but from time to time, it happens.

Our annual Dude’s Trip had to be rescheduled to this past August, (which was an awesome trip), and so I figured the normal November time slot for it would remain empty and i’d just be sitting around the house instead of going on some crazy adventure with the dudes. Lame-o.

Then I saw an opportunity. I was already taking Wednesday off for my birthday, but then thought…i’ll see if I can take Saturday instead. A whole weekend? Me? No way.

Well, yes way. I called up my buddy Kyle and we started planning. My son Nick wasn’t able to make it, so this would have to be an Old Dude’s Trip. We discussed many options, including running rivers close to home, or maybe the Pecos again, or what about the Guad, or even the Llano. It would have to be something we could do in two days, and that had to include travel time. Then on Monday, an idea was brought up….the Devil’s River arm on Amistad. I had never paddled or fished the lower section of the river before, but knew it to be awesome. But paddling all that would be tough for a quick weekend trip.

The Plan. Get the big deck boat, load up the kayaks and all the fishing and camping gear, run the nine miles up until we hit where the Devil’s empties into Lake Amistad. That’s what we wanted to fish. The cool, clear, fast moving waters. A kayaker’s paradise. The plans were set. The gear was set. Come onnnn Friday.

Friday the 11th. I was still having to work all day, so we loaded up everything the night before. When 6pm hit, I raced to Kyle’s house and we headed straight down to Rough Canyon, 25 miles north of Del Rio. We had thought about dropping in that night and finding a cove we could camp in, but fortunately there were still camping spots at the campground there. We set up a quick camp which included a big Coleman Instant Tent 6 and a couple cots. We didn’t want to unpack all of our river stuff, so I threw those in the truck to make it a fast and easy tear down in the morning.

Within about 10 minutes we were set up. I messed around with the camera a while, but the moon was so bright, there wasn’t much in the way of stars.




We got up early Saturday morning, tore down camp, and headed to the boat ramp. We went ahead and chunked the tent and cots in the boat since we had plenty of room, and who knows, we might find a camp spot big enough. Plus, those cots are much more enjoyable than the ground. 🙂

Off we went. Fully loaded and ready to play.




We fished a cove or two, and stopped by Indian Springs. It was amazing how much water was flowing out of it.


It was a truly gorgeous day. The first thing that really stood out, was the lack of wind. That never happens. Once we passed Slaughter Bend, the water was like glass.


As we got further up the river, the water became clearer and clearer. We saw schools of stripers, with each one well over 24 inches long. That was something I had never seen. We were able to get nearly a quarter mile past the entrance of Big Satan Creek. The water then became too shallow for the big boat, so we turned around and started scoping for campsites. We spotted a couple of potential sites, but it was extremely rocky, even on the shelfs back from the water. It definitely wasn’t something that would be comfy or easy on the gear. So we headed back into Satan Canyon to have a look around. As soon as we made the turn, we saw what most river runners would call the holy grail of camp spots. It was mostly flat and had wide open areas covered with grass. Someone in the past had already built a big fire ring, and there was plenty of wood laying everywhere. From the looks of it and the extremely soft ground, this whole area had been under water for many years in the past. But it was exactly what we were looking for. It was about the only place so far that had a nice soft shore line where we could slide the boat up and step off on dry ground.


The mother ship and camp.


Our front porch view.


We quickly set up camp, and since there was plenty of space, we pulled out the big tent and cots. My back thanked me again. We didn’t spend much time on camp itself, we could do that later. We were there to yak and fish, and we needed to get moving.


The water was 17 feet low, but there was still plenty of it. Google maps show this area as only a trickle and we didn’t expect much there, but that has changed since those satellite photos. This side canyon went back a half mile and started at 6-8 feet getting down to 10 before it got shallow. We spent the next few hours fishing just this area alone.





We both caught four bass each on this stretch and then started our paddle out. We spent so much time on Big Satan Creek, we weren’t going to have a ton of time on the Devil’s, especially since we were fishing more than paddling.



The further we went up, the water started changing. It became a more emerald color, and it was like paddling in an aquarium with the clarity of the water.




We paddled up about three miles and hung out for a while in some of the faster water that emptied into bigger pools. I continued to fly fish and try anything and everything I could. I had a ton of bites but no takers. It was so clear they knew we were coming a mile away. We sat around a while taking in all the scenery before we knew we needed to get back and finish setting up camp before dark. This getting dark at 5:30 is for the birds. 🙁




The wind picked up a little on the way back, right in our face of course. But still an easy paddle going with the current.



The Devil’s and the Pecos have a lot in common. One thing the Devil’s has more of…is goats. They were everywhere. And loud. Up high on the cliffs, up on top, in the water, everywhere. And they’re loud, did I mention that?


We got back to camp, finished setting up, and got some backstrap and beans a cookin’. We relaxed by the fire and watched the sky turn colors as we discussed our day and what an amazing place this was.

This was the life. This is definitely a close second to the Pecos as far as beauty, but I think it may have beat it out as far as comfort goes. lol. It was also nice to see there wasn’t any trash around the area. We picked up some in the water, but the camp was free of litter.



The next morning we were a little slow to stir thanks to staying up way too late around the campfire. It wasn’t going to be a full day, since we had to get back, but we were going to make the best of it. We got out in the yaks first thing and started hitting around our area. The wind was strong today and it was difficult to get more than one cast before readjusting. It was a constant battle, but we both managed four fish each. They ranged from 12-16 inches. A little smaller than yesterday, but we were catching…and that’s all that mattered.


We even had a visitor run through camp while I was paddling back by.


After a few hours we got back to camp and started breakfast, well, I guess brunch at this point. Sausage and egg burritos. So good. Since we had the big boat, Kyle threw in his discada and propane tank, which made cooking everything so much easier. Never said we were roughing it. 🙂

Once we finished the rather big meal and pried our rear ends out of the chairs, we started cleaning up. It was starting to get hot. We decided to go ahead and break camp before we headed out again. I always hate the return day. Hard to get motivated to move too fast knowing we have to go home and back to the grind after being in such an incredible place. After we finished packing everything up, I wanted to play a little and see some of the area from a different vantage point.



The decision was made to start heading back instead of getting in the yaks since it was getting later in the day. We were still going to fish a few coves and check out a few spots on the way back.


We fished a while, closer to Rough Canyon, and even stopped and chatted with one of Kyle’s friends out on the water. But it was time to go. Reel life was over and real life was rearing it’s ugly head. We loaded the boat, got everything tied down, then headed to Hooker’s for some amazing burgers. They really hit the spot. We sat outside, talked and ate, and giggling over their sign that read, “Support your local Hooker’s”.  lol

We had a great trip, albeit too quick. We caught fish, got to camp in God’s country, had some great grub, had a lot of fun, and yakked some beautiful waters.

I know my posts are long and the photos plentiful. But being able to do these things and share them is all part of the adventure for me. This world is still too beautiful for trip photos just to sit in a folder on the computer and never be seen. Some folks will never be able to do these kind of trips, for some it brings back memories, and some just need something to look at to get through their workday. Any which way, I hope to be able to do this for a long time. Plus, saying, “we’re heading to the Devil’s River and camping in Big Satan Canyon”, kinda deserves a story. 🙂

Thanks for coming along,




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

4 thoughts on “The Devil Made Me Do It

  • November 17, 2016 at 12:51 pm

    Great recap Scott! Thanks for taking us along. Love seeing the pics to go along with the story.

  • November 22, 2016 at 10:19 pm

    Sorry for the late comment but even though short it looked like a great time. Thanks for sharing your beautiful part of the world.


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