A visit to the Devils River

A visit to the Devils River

July 01, 2019

Although I really like to fish just about anywhere, there are certain places that are special to me. The Devils River is one of these places.

I like to visit the Devils River at least once per year. It is a pristine, spring-fed river located in southwest Texas between Sonora and Del Rio. With clear, spring-fed water, Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass, and amazing scenery, the Devils River has quite a bit to offer. For this trip, me and my dad had quite an offering of fish too.


DAY 1

I started day 1 out in the early afternoon. Temperatures were in the 90’s, overcast skies, and the wind was pretty gusty. Upon arriving at the edge of the Devils River I was pleased to see that the water quality was quite good. There had been a lot of rain in the basins around the Devils River lately, so I was worried all of the runoff would have brought a lot of silt into the water. Although the water wasn’t as clear as I have seen it, the water was exceptional for fishing.

I started off on my Pau Hana Endurance and my dad on his Jackson Kayak Liska. It became evident very quickly that the wind was going to play a crucial role in our fishing success. With kayak fishing, and even more so with SUP fishing, the wind is a major factor. Fishing for bass on rivers requires precision casting and a need to stay in the same place for a given amount of time. The wind makes it very difficult to get a good feel on soft plastics and also to just cast your lure where you want it to go.

We kept fishing for quite a while, but the wind was just brutal.

Due to the wind, I decided to take a quick break by a spring to get a snack and have a drink. I couldn’t think of a much better place to have a break - crystal clear water pouring out the side of a cliff, beautiful landscape, and a nice 90 degree temperature. It certainly was refreshing in more ways than one. After getting fueled up, I ventured around the springs to see what was around. Turns out that a unusual 8-legged arachnid was stranded on the water with a big bass about to have a meal.

I noticed an odd object floating on the surface of the water with a good sized bass below it moving closer and closer. I don’t think the bass quite knew what it was looking at, and neither did I. It was a tarantula out on the water! Although I appreciate all the different “services” that spiders provide us with, such as helping control the population of “undesirable insects”, I have never liked spiders….tarantulas are different though. I’ve always found tarantulas interesting. It looked like this tarantula was stranded out on the water so I extended a branch to him and he quickly climbed on.

It was pretty cool to see this spider up close and it just shows how much diversity there is at the Devils River.

After letting this tarantula go, it was back to fishing.

I was fishing a Rage Tail Structure Bug and my dad was using a Rage Tail Rage Craw. As we fished, I caught a few small guys, but nothing too substantial. The wind was really making it difficult for me and my dad, not to mention fishing soft plastics with the wind is pretty hard to do. I eventually went to a weighted Texas Rig to help with the wind. I don’t typically like to use a weight when I am in clear water like the Devils River, but the wind was making it impossible to fish a weightless Texas Rig.

Eventually, dusk was setting and the wind began to die down. Me and my dad began to fish a small pool of water we refer to as the “Blue Lagoon”. My dad was using a topwater frog and soon got a bite from a solid bass. This was a great fish and I was hoping that it would be a sign of more fish to come. My dad casted this frog right on top of some algae and soon enough an explosion on the water happened. Luckily, my dad was able to set the hook good enough on this bass and get him out of all the weeds. Often times, fishing for a topwater frog produces a lot of strikes, but it can be difficult to get a good hook set because of all the vegetation you throw a frog into. My dad got a good hook set though and reeled in his first bass of the day.

I began fishing this lagoon with my dad and soon enough I caught a similar sized bass to my dad. I casted my Structure Bug into some vegetation and slowly worked it through the river. Within a few seconds I received a very violent hit and I set the hook! This guy wasn’t a monster, but he definitely put up an unbelievable fight for his size.

Fishing for this bass from my Pau Hana Endurance made the experience that much more enjoyable. I eventually got the bass to my board and quickly grabbed him by the mouth because I could tell he wasn’t hooked good…but he was hooked good enough!

With good success from both me and my dad, we slowly made our way further and further into this lagoon. I caught a few more bass with my Structure Bug, but none of these fish were very large - but I would soon catch a much larger bass.

I noticed several large bass in this crystal clear lagoon. I fished for them cast after cast, and although I got a lot of interest, I could never get one of these larger bass to bite. I tried switching to a fluke, a grub, and a few other options but still no luck. Eventually, I went back to the trusty Texas Rig and casted out a little further than I could see into the water. I was twitching my Structure Bug a few times and then I felt something on the end of my line. I set the hook and the fight was on with about a 4 pound bass!

It is always risky fishing for bass in such heavy vegetation, as you are more likely to lose a fish; however, I was determined to bring this guy to my Pau Hana Endurance. Luckily, I had my medium heavy baitcasting rod with 30 lb Power Pro braided line so I wasn’t terribly concerned about my line breaking, more so about the fish getting caught in vegetation and coming off.

I was able to land this fish though and got him to my SUP. He was a monster for sure.

I couldn’t believe how healthy this fish was and just how strong he was either. Something that is always neat to look at is the many small “teeth” bigger bass have on their lips. They are super tiny, but man they can really grip and give you some small cuts on your thumb.

This was a great bass and already made my trip to the Devils River far worth the effort!

With this good bass and the sun setting, me and my dad decided to call it a day and setup camp. The next day we were going to hunt for some big bass and we needed good sleep….but that didn’t happen.

The night started off nice and gentle. The Milky Way was clear as could be, stars were bright and abundant, but then the gentle breeze turned to wind and flashes of light started to appear in the distance. A storm was moving in.

I hoped the storm was moving adjacent to me and my dad, but eventually it came through our camp and winds picked up significantly. It did not rain very much, but the winds were strong and lighting was consistent. I think it is very reasonable to say that we only got about 1-2 hours of sleep this night…and that was all done in 5-10 minutes intervals. Soon enough, I saw the sun starting to rise and I was relieved that a new day had come and the storms had moved past us. It was time to start fishing Day 2!


The start of day 2 was pretty cloudy with minimal wind, at the most a gentle breeze. Me and my dad paddled off on our Jackson Kayak Liska and Pau Hana Endurance to start casting some lures in the water.

I started off with a Heddon Zara Spook on my baitcasting rod and a Zoom Fluke on my spinning rod. My dad was using a topwater frog.

 

About 30 minutes into fishing, I received a big explosion on the water from a bass trying to get my topwater lure. I had him hooked for a split second, but I couldn’t keep him on the line. Not a good enough hook set. I quickly followed up with my Zoom Fluke…the same thing happened! I had this fish on the line and then it came off about 2 seconds later. I was beginning to wonder if this was a gar instead of a bass.

I casted my topwater lure back a few times, and although I did get a good strike it didn’t result in a fish. I decided to cast my Zoom Fluke a few more times before moving on. After my third or fourth cast I got a bite and I set the hook hard. I was excited to have a fish on my line and carefully reeled him in through all of the lily pads and vegetation. I eventually got him to my Endurance and landed a nice bass!

Me and my dad headed further downstream the Devils River in search of bigger bass. The wind had picked up significantly by this time of day and it was becoming very difficult to position our kayak and paddleboard so that we could make accurate casts…just like the previous day.

As we navigated through the Devils River, we saw a small pool that was somewhat isolated from the main river by a large rock formation. Although water was flowing in and out of this pool, it looked like a nice, isolated spot for some smaller bass.

Sure enough, I spotted a 1.5 pound bass pretty quickly. I got my dad set up with a light action spinning setup that had a small jig on the end of the line. When my dad casted towards this bass, he quickly showed interest and struck the jig. Just as quick as he struck he was gone. The line had broke and the bass swam off. There was another bass in this pool though, a smaller bass, but still a good bass.

My dad casted towards this guy and he showed some interest, but he didn’t strike quite quick enough as a tiny bass engulfed this jig. How tiny? Well, probably just a few inches. He was super healthy though and looked like he would make a great bass one of these days.

After releasing this little guy we tried to cast towards the “larger”, but still small bass that was in this pool. My dad casted, twitched the jig a few times and then the bass bit! We knew this was a small bass, but there was something amazingly fun about sight fishing for this one bass. It packed a lot of adrenaline and being able to see the whole interaction made for a unique experience.

After we caught some of these small guys in the pool we decided to get back to business…catching big bass!

My dad put on a Berkley PowerBait Worm with a Chartreuse tail while I was fishing a Zoom Fluke. We moved into a good fishing area and began to fish for some big bass. I caught a few decent bass pretty quick, but the big surprise was yet to come. My dad was fishing a channel with his worm and eventually I heard a huge splash and my dad calling my name. It was a huge bass!

My dad reeled this fish in and I couldn’t believe how big he was. I was anxiously anticipating my dad grabbing the bass so we could land it. The fish kept fighting for a while so it wasn’t as easy as just reeling him in and grabbing him…this guy was big and putting up a good fight.

My dad got this monster to his Jackson Kayak Liska and landed him! It was a big bass. If this fish was filled out a bit more he could have been 10 pounds. As it was, this fish weighed in at around 7 pounds.

I was more than excited about my dad catching this fish and I know my dad was super happy as well. This was an unbelievable catch for the Devils River!

At this point in time, me and my dad had caught some great fish for this trip. I had caught a 4 lb bass and my dad had caught a 7 lb bass! Not to mention all the other quality 2-3 pounders we had caught.

We decided to take a short break before continued to fish.

Back on the water, me and my dad took a little bit of time to just paddle the Devils River without too much fishing. The wind was extremely strong and we had caught some great fish, so we wanted to just take in all of the scenery around us.

If you haven’t been to the Devils River, it is pretty impressive - tall cliffs, clear water, diverse wildlife, and great fishing.

Ideally, you really want to invest in some quality gear to come here. Here is the main gear that I was using on the Devils River - my big three:

  • Paddleboard: Pau Hana Endurance

  • Paddle: AquaBound Malta Carbon

  • Life Jacket: MTI Adventurewear Helios 2.0

This is my “big three” as they are the absolute essentials to what you need to get out on the water. My dad was using this gear:

  • Kayak: Jackson Kayak Liska

  • Paddle: Bending Branches Angler Pro Carbon

  • Life Jacket: MTI Dio

This gear led us further and further down the Devils River to some great scenery.

As we explored more and more of the Devils River, it became quite easy to see why I enjoy visiting this river so much. It simply is an amazing place out in the middle of a desert. Of all places, a spring fed river is flowing out in the desert. It is a very unique experience, because you wouldn’t expect there to be clean, clear flowing water in a location like this…but there is!

What makes it even more impressive and desirable for someone like me is the fishing. Me and my dad had already had our fair share of fish on this trip, but I decided to cast a little bit more to see what I could catch.

I switched to my medium light spinning rod with a Zoom Fluke on the end of it. This is a great lure for the Devils River, as it is weedless, and works great in clear water. Just make sure you get a translucent color.

I casted quite a few times as the wind pushed me through the water. On one cast, I had my Zoom Fluke retrieved about half way, and then like a unbelievable predator I saw a fish explode from the bottom of the river and swallow my lure! It was a nice bass and he was fighting extremely hard. This fish swam under my Pau Hana Endurance several times trying to get free, but he wasn’t in luck, as I had the upper hand this time.

This was a great bass, right around 4 pounds. He wasn’t the longest bass, but was packed full of muscle and simply a powerhouse of a bass.

Out of all the fish I caught this trip, this bass was the best. He fought extremely hard and was a perfect specimen of a bass.

Fishing on the Devils River is always a blast. Sometimes you catch big ones, sometimes you catch quite a few fish, and on some days you catch a lot of big bass. Fortunately, this trip to the Devils River encompassed some big bass and quite a few of them. Even without the fish, the scenery is simply amazing. As many people who have visited the Devils River claim, it is an oasis in the middle of a desert.

I don’t think I could have asked for more on this trip to the Devils River - tarantulas, big bass, amazing scenery, thunderstorms, and all the memories from the great time me and my dad had out on the water!

Read more at Clint Taylors website: www.texaskayakfisher.com



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