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5 Texas Hill Country Waterways Perfect for an Angler-Paddler

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14 species of fish can be found in the Texas Hill Country. From the official state fish – the Guadalupe bass – to swarms of sunfish, the Hill Country is blessed with a wealth and variety of streams and rivers that provide not only the perfect fishing spot, but are perfect for the pastime of paddling, and for those that like to combine the two, there’s no place finer! Here are 5 great sweet spots accessible to anglers in canoes and kayaks, offering the catch of the day!

1. San Saba River

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Photo: texaskayakfisher.com

A goldmine for paddling and fishing together is the upper San Saba River, upstream from Menard. Much of it narrow enough to cast completely across it, it winds its way through the outskirts of the Hill County, the majority under a canopy of elms, cottonwoods and pecan trees. Famous for bass, (largemouths are rumored to weigh-in at 6 lbs) there are spots of small rapids scattered between leisurely pools lined with lily-pads. Aside from the bass, there are also plenty of Rio Grande perch and redbreast sunfish, and access is limited at road crossings and the public park in Menard. Grab a great kayak to fish from and head to the river!

2. Village Creek

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Photo: tpwd.texas.gov

Shaded by hardwood forest as well as some pine, Village Creek flows through Hardin County north of Beaumont. Offering slow-paced paddling, the creek is the color of tea, with fallen trees being the only obstacles that a paddler/angler could come across. Spotted bass, sunfish and largemouth are prime in Village, and access is excellent at public road crossings and Village Creek State Park.

3. Lower Pecos River

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Photo: pinterest.com

The only public access for the Lower Pecos River is a 50-mile stretch from Pandale to Lake Amistad, on the skirts of the Chihuahuan Desert. It’s one of the most isolated and pristine, yet logistically-challenged, fish-filled river in the western part of Texas. Plan for a minimum 7-day fishing trip in total since paddling this length will take up 4 of them. When doing so, plan to also bring in all gear, food and water, since this river is in the middle-of-nowhere and walking out is not an option. With no cell phone service, the journey can seem quite remote, but that also makes it quite enjoyable. Fierce rapids and rocky shallows dot the span and will require portaging, and for your troubles, your reward is world-class largemouth bass fishing and ethereal scenery. Pictographs, wildlife, natural springs and solitude await you.

4. Brazos River

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Photo: flickr.com

For almost a 40-mile span downstream from the Possum Kingdom Dam on the Brazos River is a series of shallows and pools filled with catfish, sunfish and bass, interspersed with rocky areas and far-reaching bends, diverse wildlife, and small islands. With 20 miles between its access points, this fishing/paddling trip will require a minimum one-night camping stay on one of these many islands. Its ecosystem, habitat and landscape will amaze even the most seasoned paddler and the fishing is incomparable for avid anglers.

5. Nueces River

The Nueces River outside Camp Wood, Texas, on State Highway 55.

Photo: kacproductions.photoshelter.com

The upper Nueces River in Real and Uvalde counties near Camp Wood can be shallow, rocky and is often nearly dry which of course makes it tough to paddle most summers. But when water levels are up, the river’s pools a wealthy with sunfish, largemouths and Guadalupe bass in numbers that will astound you. A paradise for fly-fishers, the upper Nueces is a day-trip with easy access. All land along the river is privately owned except for a couple of public campgrounds, so ensure you plot your overnight in one of the areas where it’s permitted.