Sunday, July 5, 2015

Fishing the Llano River: White's Crossing to James River Crossing

We finally did it.  We took some friends and made the trip from White's Crossing down to James River Crossing.  It was a lot of fun and included some things that we hadn't done before.  Some of the rapids were a bit more than I was used to but fairly uneventful for most of us.

The day started off at 7AM waiting for our friends at the Dollar General in Liberty Hill.  They were coming from Cedar Park and were going to meet up with us so we could continue on together to Mason since they didn't know where we were going.

We got to White's Crossing near Mason around 9:30am and dropped the ladies off with the kayaks and the "stuff" while we went to drop off one of the trucks at the James River Crossing parking area. This is normally a 45 minute round trip but add to that a stop at the store on the way to pick up more supplies, we finally got back around 11:00am and in the river by 11:15am.

The first part of the trip we had to drag quite a bit to get past the rocky portion near the crossing.  Once we got past that it went much better and we were able to stay in the boats for all but a couple places for the rest of the trip.  The water could have been a little higher, but the clarity made up for it at first.

It was at this point some folks came down behind us.  As they came down the first rapids they flipped their kayak and all their stuff went floating down river including their kayak.  They didn't handle it very well considering they weren't prepared for what to do in this case.  If we hadn't been there they would have been struggling for a long time to get all of their stuff back.  Lesson learned for the rest of us to be sure!

Once we made it to the first pool, the water because much more stained with a light color, I assume from the limestone in the water.  The fishing wasn't too good.  We had some bites in the smaller pools which we figured were from the smaller bass or sunfish in the pools, but no real strikes.  Had a couple strikes in the weeds along the first pool, but nothing serious enough to get hooked.

After that it was pretty much uneventful.  We tried fishing for several hours in the different pools but nothing was biting.  Of course this was middle of the day and most of the fish were in the bottom of the river.  Even though the water wasn't real warm to start with (in the 70's) it warmed up as the day went on and the fish activity completely stopped.

So we enjoyed paddling around and exploring the river areas.  Once we got past the second rapids (video coming soon!), there were some large rocks in the river that were rather fun to fish around.  Had a nice strike but lost the fish behind one of them in a spot where the trees created a nice dark spot.  Also in this area there was a jug float setup and I noticed there was a fish on it.  So I checked the date and at first the only date I saw was from 2 years ago. So I tried to pull it up.  But the fish was stuck under a rock. I finally got it out from under the rock and suddenly the fish got about 15 times larger than I thought and it nearly pulled me over board!  It was around this point I noticed that there was a date posted from 2 days previous so I figured someone would come looking for it.  But still, that fish was huge...  I never saw it but I felt that it must have been rather large. I would give it to be something over 2ft long and maybe over 3ft based on how much water it disturbed when I tried to pull it up!  It is at these times I wish I had a GoPro!

After this things were again uneventful.  Our friends got dunked a couple times coming down rapids
(first time on a river like this) and one of them lost their reel to the river. I tried to rescue the reel because the reel had fallen off the rod but the line was still attached. But the reel got broken in the process and was unusable. So they stopped fishing for the most part and went on to the take out point.  Sarah and I kept fishing some and paddling a lot but still not much going on.  Sarah caught a small smallmouth after the last rapids but that was it for a while.

When we got down almost to where the James River joins the Llano, that's where we got to our favorite weed beds near the deep channel.  And once again, the buzz baits did the trick and we finally got our first keeper of the day at 14.25in.  I say keeper because we had promised our friends that we would keep one fish to cook on the campfire at the end of the day.  I was very glad we got one and that it wasn't a huge fish.  I wouldn't have liked to kill a very large breeding fish - so the 14 incher was perfect.

We then pulled out at the landing and the ladies cleaned the fish and started dinner while the guys went to pickup the other truck and also stop for more water as our friends' water supplies had run out. Another article on taking enough supplies coming in the near future but suffice to say that when going on a 5 mile river run in the summer in Texas you need to make sure you bring plenty of water! We had emergency LifeStraws, but we really didn't want to use them unless we had to.

By the time us guys got back, the food was pretty much ready.  I tell ya what, that campfire with little packs of fish sitting around it looked pretty good for sure!  We also had some hot dogs to go with it which pretty much made it a real river bank feast!

We finished the evening out with us guys heading back out to fish the sunset.  I managed to catch a couple more bass in the weeds using a black buzz bait.  Had a strike from one that nearly took the rod out of my hand but it never fully connected.  Made me very sad.  :)

All in all, it was a great day.  Didn't get enough pictures in my mind, but we had a good time and learned a lot.  Sarah and I will begin taking this trip more often and hope to document our adventures in more detail as we learn this route. Undoubtedly this run in addition to the James River Crossing to Simonsville Road crossing will become some of our favorite runs on the main Llano river.  Though I have to say that our favorite area is still the South Llano River upstream from the South Llano River State Park near Junction.  We are planning another trip out there this fall.

That's pretty much it!  If anyone is interested in riding with us just for the fun of it, let us know!  We love company and since we aren't charging yet (can't legally since we aren't licensed!), you can enjoy the benefits of having a guide but mainly to have company since you should never do something like this alone - especially not the first time!

As I sit here writing this up, I am constantly reminded that this trip was a great experience not all because of the great experience we got, but because of the muscles that are still hurting.  When we started out the trip I already had a pulled muscle in my right arm.  It wasn't terrible but by the time we got done with the trip, I was hurting pretty bad.  It stopped hurting all the time for the first time today, but it has reminded me throughout this post of the fact that we haven't done this kind of thing quite enough.  Hopefully by the next time we do a longer trip like this we'll be better prepared physically! Add to this that I hope to have a GoPro to play with so we can start getting some better video!

Tight Lines!


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