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The Devils River: An Oasis In The South Texas Desert

Updated: Dec 15, 2022

Bubbling from the Texas desert is a labyrinth of springs that feed the immensely beautiful Devils River.


When thinking of the desert of Southwest Texas, one rarely imagines beauty. It is often depicted as barren, dry, and dusty. That description is not far from the truth, unless you know where to look. Bubbling from the porous ground are a multitude of springs that feed one of the most beautiful splendors to behold in the lower 48. The Devils River begins in Central West Texas, winding its way through sandy hills and canyons before culminating at the border lake known as Lake Amistad. Amistad itself is well-known for its trophy bass and pristine waters. El Diablo steps it up a notch.

“...paddlers average 6 miles per day and may battle strong head winds, multiple rapids, portages, and massive boulders before passing out from utter exhaustion on several island sites designated for camping.”

Adventurers put in at the public access point known as Baker's Crossing on State Hwy 163. From there paddlers average 6 miles per day and may battle strong head winds, multiple rapids, portages, and massive boulders before passing out from utter exhaustion on island sites designated for camping. Since the surrounding land is almost exclusively privately owned, except for the State Natural Area 19 miles down river, camping is restricted to stretches of land with water surrounding it.


Along the way paddlers will experience beautiful scenery, crystal clear water, ever-changing terrain, and fishing that can only be described as spectacular. As the Devils is the farthest south that smallmouth bass are present ned rigs, craw baits, flukes, and Whopper Ploppers are obvious choices. But the ultimate option, in my opinion, is a hollow-bodied plastic frog jerked across the top of lilly pads causing lurking largemouth to absolutely explode the twitching bait.


Trip Options

The trip we chose was 23 miles and lasted 4 days and three nights. It ended at Gerald Bailey's house on the steep cliffs above the river. His outfit was called Devils River Outfitters. Gerald has since retired and therefore sold to someone else who has continued the business under the same name. We stayed the previous night at WhoCares Bed and Breakfast and were shuttled to Baker's the next morning before launching for our trip. There are several other outfits that provide shuttles for the trip and work with the state. They require state-issued permits and pick adventurers up at the State Park 4 miles up river. We chose to use Gerald because he required no extra permits and we were able to fish the long, deep pools above his launch. DRO also offers a cabin and canoe rentals where a group could stay and fish up and down the river several miles.


Outfitting

We have options available for complete or partial outfitting. We are able to book and schedule B&B stays as well as shuttle services for groups. Contact us for more information.

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