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Pau Hana on the South Llano River

Texas Kayak Fisher Blog


Pau Hana on the South Llano River

Clint Taylor

For quite some time I haven't been able to venture out onto some quality water to fish. Luckily, I was able to go to the South Llano River as well as test out my Pau Hana Endurance paddleboard. Lately, as in the past several weeks if not months, I haven't been able to do any hard core fishing. A lot of this is due to work, extreme weather in Texas, as well as some things in life that sometimes prevent me from getting out on the water. In fact, I haven't been able to land a bass over a pound in quite some time...that's a bold statement to make for me. Fortunately, the rivers I fish are still there and so are the fish that roam them. Unfortunate for the fish is the fact that I am trying out a new tactic for my time spent after work, literally, because I have my Pau Hana Endurance paddleboard, which in case you didn't know, Pau Hana is "time after work" in Hawaiian.

I got out onto the water pretty late, but there was a lot of good cloud cover and the temperature was in the mid 70s, so I knew I had a good chance to land some bass. I brought my Endurance paddleboard along with my dad in my Jackson Kayak Big Tuna to go locate some fish, but more than anything just have a good time out on the water and get some peace from such a busy and hectic world. The water quality was great with a good amount of visibility, probably what I would consider optimal water clarity for both visual appearance and fishing in general. I was using a Strike King Square Bill Crankbait to start off, but I wasn't getting a bite at all. I quickly realized that my dad who was using a Worden's Rooster Tail was having much more success as he had already caught three small bass. I decided to go finesse fishing for some larger bass. I was using a medium light action 6' 4" spinning rod with 10 lb braided line. Attached to the end of my line was a 1/4 oz. tungsten bullet weight with a Texas Rigged Rage Tail Structure Bug. It took me a little time to get used to how to optimally use my paddleboard with finesse fishing because one of the unique aspects of the Endurance is how light and quick it is. Spending most of my time in a kayak that weighs over twice as much as the Endurance, I quickly realized how easy it is to paddle, but also how reactive the board can be to slight movements and the wind when you are standing up. I found that when the wind was blowing, fishing from my knees worked best, especially for finesse fishing. When I wanted to move from spot to spot, I stood up and was able to haul it across the river with ease due to such a great streamline design on the paddleboard. Helping me move across the water was my Aquabound Malta Carbon Paddle. This paddle is made 100% of lightweight and stiff carbon fiber. This paddle was extremely efficient in helping me move on my Endurance paddleboard.  I worked a lot of the underground rock that is very evident on the South Llano River as well as some lily pads. I found a lot of good pockets of water to land some bass, and I quickly landed a nice 1.5 pound largemouth bass with my Rage Tail Structure Bug.

One of the unique aspects of the South Llano River is that you get long sections of pools with rapids in between that offer a nice change up. What is cool is that you get the chance to catch the State Fish of Texas, the Guadalupe Bass, in these sections of rapids. The Guadalupe Bass doesn't get large at all, so if you catch a 1 pound Guadalupe Bass you have caught a good sized fish. Guadalupe Bass are probably one of my favorite fish to catch because they fight so hard. They typically like to roam in rapids, so anytime I come across some rapids on the South Llano, I get excited about the opportunity to catch some Guadalupe Bass. One thing I was really cautious of was bringing my paddleboard in the rapids because I was worried on how it was going to handle. I couldn't believe how well the Endurance handled in moving water. It was so much easier to move upstream or in current with the Endurance because of how little drag it has. I could easily maneuver in areas that would have been difficult to move up in a kayak. It did take a little getting used to using a paddle with one blade versus two, but once I figured it out it became pretty effortless.

I quickly landed a nice sized Guadalupe Bass right outside of a section of rapids with my Rage Tail Structure Bug. I saw a really clear section of water that was contained in a small eddy. I casted and quickly felt some action going on. I set my hook and the action had started with this tough rascal. Due to my paddleboard being under 40 lbs., this small fish actually pulled me around a little bit. It was awesome to watch this feisty bass swimming around in the clear water and all of this from my paddleboard made it that much more awesome.

Outside of landing a few fun fish, the water quality was just great and I really couldn't have asked for better weather. My dad landed something that quickly changed my opinion on the day though. There is one fish that I wouldn't say is elusive, but more so rare and hard to find. This is the Rio Grande Perch. I have only seen one in person, and that was one my dad caught on the Devils River several years ago. I have specifically gone on trips just to try and catch a Rio Grande Perch and failed time and time again. My dad somehow managed to land a second Rio Grande Perch on this fishing trip on the South Llano River. When he said he thought he had one, I was skeptical. I knew they have been known to swim in these waters, but I thought my dad might have just been joking. Sure enough, his 1/16 oz. Worden's Rooster Tail in Fire Tiger landed a Rio Grande Perch. I couldn't believe it, and even though I didn't catch this fish, I was so excited to see the rare fish and was really in disbelief. I think the Rio Grande Perch has such a unique pattern and is a very neat fish to see in person. It's dorsal fin is also very unique in shape. Take a look below for yourself:

This day was quickly becoming awesome, and the best part of the trip that I knew would happen hadn't even happened yet. One of the hidden gems on the South Llano River is a waterfall near Telegraph, Texas. This waterfall isn't tall, but more so wide and just something that really is peaceful for me to witness first person. The sound of the water crashing over the rocks with a clear pool beneath the waterfall is a sight that I wish I could see more often, but that makes each time I do get to see it much better. My Pau Hana Endurance did an excellent job of getting me into the pool of water beneath the waterfall and it really was just spectacular to see the bottom of the pool that I couldn't even tell you how deep it was. The water is quite clear near the waterfall, as the South Llano River has heavy influence from springs that surround the area, making the water very clean and clear.  It is just a really neat sight to see on the South Llano River.

All in all, the fishing was great, the water quality was great, the day was great, and just my experience on the Pau Hana Endurance was really great. Due to the Endurance being so lightweight with minimum drag, it really is efficient in moving from location to location. Having built in ricochet technology helps the board to have a rugged design which allows me to fish rivers like the South Llano River. With most paddleboards, they are either made of simply fiberglass, which will not stand the abuse of Texas rivers with rock and rapids, or they are made of polyethelyne like a Jackson Kayak, but weigh so much it takes away from the overall idea of a paddleboard in my opinion. At under 40 lbs., the Endurance has a great blend of being lightweight with also being durable enough to withstand some abuse.

At the end of the day, me and my dad caught a lot of great fish and had an unbelievable time out on the South Llano River. I was really happy, because sometimes in life you need a jumpstart from this or that, or just a boost of excitement. For me, this trip to the South Llano River was just that. It Is kind of interesting how one's life can go. You can keep facing struggle after struggle and be praying for all of these struggles to go away, but you know what? I think it would be a wise decision if I started praying for awesome times like the one I had with my dad on the South Llano River, because I really couldn't ask for a better time and not too many people get the opportunity to do things like this. It is so easy to ask for more in one's life or wish this wasn't happening or that wasn't happening, but far too often I know I am not anywhere near as thankful for just how much I do have, because I have way more than I could ever ask for. Only because I know I struggle with not realizing just how much I have, I think it is always good to stop for a moment and realize how much each of us have. I look too often for satisfaction in things that come and go, but God's nature never fails to offer me peace time and time again. If you get the chance sometime soon, go get out on the water and enjoy all God has given us, maybe you will even land some nice fish too!