One of my favorite rivers to fish is the Llano River. I have paddled and fished several different sections, with my primary destination being the South Llano River near Junction, Texas. For this trip, I decided to try out a new location where the James River and Llano River become one.
While I have been to the Llano River near Mason, Texas before, I haven’t been to the location off of Ranch Road 2389. I scouted out different locations on the Llano River and this particular spot caught my interest. Why? This location is where the James River and Llano River converge. I thought this could make an interesting dynamic for fishing and decided to give it a shot.
Upon arriving at my put in / take out location off of Ranch Road 2389 I was very excited to see what the river system looked like. I also had to drive off road for a bit through large rocks to get to the waters edge where I wanted to put in so this was awesome. Quite frankly, just driving on these large rocks was exciting enough for me…as I got an opportunity to drive my Toyota 4Runner off road a bit and that is always fun. The water was flowing quite good (around 200-230 CFS) and water clarity was okay (about 2-6 ft depending on specific location). I had a great view of the James River flowing into the Llano River and I thought there was quite a bit of potential to catch some fish. There were a lot of clouds in the sky too, which made for some prime topwater fishing…at least I thought it was.
I started fishing in the James River with a Heddon Zara Spook without any luck at all. My dad was throwing a topwater frog from his Jackson Kayak Liska with no luck either. The James River eventually became too shallow to paddle upstream any further so we paddled back to the Llano River and began heading upstream. Ultimately, the convergence of the James River and Llano River was a bit deceiving on paper, as real life proved the James River to be more of a creek than a river.
Due to the cloudy weather and early morning, I was thinking topwater would be a great lure selection, but neither me or my dad could land a fish on topwater. I was really surprised and wanted to continue working my Heddon Zara Spook, but sometimes if it isn’t working you need to change things up a bit. So we did just that.
I switched to a Rage Tail Rage Craw that was Texas Rigged without a weight and a large Strike KVD Square Bill Crankbait. My dad was fishing a small square bill crank bait.
Not too long after making some lure changes my dad was landing a few bass. He started off catching some Guadalupe Bass, which are always fun. The area we were fishing was pretty shallow (less than 3 ft) and I wasn’t haven’t much luck finding any big bass. My dad on the other hand was having a lot of success working that small crankbait through valleys in the shallow water. In total, I think my dad caught about 2-3 Guadalupe Bass with the small KVD Square Bill Crankbait.
Traversing Upstream Through the Rapids
One thing to be aware of at this particular section of the Llano River is how shallow the water is and also the amount of small rapids. We had to walk upstream through a long section of smaller rapids until reaching slightly deeper water to fish. This was somewhat difficult to do with my Pau Hana Endurance, as the rear fin sticks down into the water making you carry the board through the rapids. However difficult it may have been, we eventually reached deeper water and I knew that both me and my dad would have a better chance at landing some big fish.
The Fish that Roam the Deep
I was fishing a Rage Tail Rage Craw and Structure Bug while my dad continued to utilize his Strike King KVD Square Bill Crankbait. It wasn’t long before we both hooked some fish in the deeper water. More Guadalupe Bass and some Largemouth Bass.
Quite possibly the most exciting, yet disappointing time of the day was when my dad landed a good sized bass and had it come off the hook towards the end of the fight. We both couldn’t believe that this bass escaped two treble hooks on the crankbait, especially after being hooked for a good amount of time. This just goes to show that sometimes you lose fish…but there are always more fish ahead of you so keep moving forward…don’t give up.
This plan would work out in our favor, as my dad would soon land a nice 1.5-2 lb. bass that was well worth the visit to the Llano River. This bass wasn’t the largest guy out there, but he definitely provided some excitement for me and my dad as we continued to fish the South Llano River.
I hadn’t had much luck yet and was considering switching to a different lure. There was only a portion of deeper water right next to the banks of the river under a lot of tree limbs. Due to this, I decided to continue fishing my Rage Tail Structure Bug and really try to skip my lure under the tree limbs as far as I could. This was quite the challenge and if you have never utilized a spinning rod and reel to skip lures under low hanging branches, let’s just say it is quite the challenge…but also quite the reward. I landed a small Guadalupe Bass shortly after my new technique of fishing heavily under the tree limbs. I would soon upgrade the size of this Guadalupe Bass as I casted under a large tree branch with several submerged logs in the water below. Immediately upon casting my Rage Tail Structure Bug into the timber I felt a small knock at the end of my line. I twitched my lure a few more times and the I set the hook on a good sized Guadalupe Bass.
This Guadalupe Bass fought extremely hard (like all Guads do) and I had a blast reeling him in on my Pau Hana Endurance. This bass wasn’t huge, but it was a quality Guadalupe Bass and it was the catch of the day for me.
In total, me and my dad caught about 6-8 bass. Mainly Guadalupe Bass, but also some Largemouth Bass mixed in. We may not have caught the most fish, or even the largest fish, but it was a blast!
Other Catches of the Day
Although I go out to various rivers to find fish, sometimes you find some other catches. While traversing upstream through some small rapids I spotted a small turtle finding some shelter between two rocks on the river bed. I reached down and caught the turtle. I’m not sure what type of turtle it was, but this rascal had some nice “spikes” on his back and looked pretty cool. Unfortunately, he just didn’t want to go back into the water after sitting on the deck of my Pau Hana Endurance. I guess he thought the padding on the deck was as comfortable as I think it is.
Also in the sections of rapids was a really interesting snake (in fact, I probably saw over 30 snakes on this trip). What was interesting about this snake was how long and skinny he was, but how he had his head above the water while swimming. Although I couldn’t get a good photo of the snake, at one point his head seemed to be hovering 6-9 inches above the water. Pretty cool to see, however, this snake thought he’d swim towards me and my dad and then the neat experience turned into a battle. The battle didn’t last long as a quick thrust of our Aquabound and Bending Branches paddles scared the snake away, but he was quite aggressive for a water snake.
One of the best parts about fishing the rivers I do is that even if I don’t catch fish I still get to spend time in some of the amazing scenery God created. I was fortunate enough, as was my dad to catch a few fish on this day trip, but even if we didn’t the scenery was well worth the trip. The large cliffs, rapids, and rock that surrounds the river was awesome.
I especially enjoyed looking at some of the cliffs on this section of the river. Some of the cliff had large sections cut out making a really cool landscape. You could also see how high the water got during the recent flood the Llano experienced in 2018. This was amazing as the water would have been well above our heads and the pure force of all this water was simply unstoppable.
This section of the Llano River upstream from Ranch Road 2389 was beautiful and provided me and my dad with a great time out on the water. However, this section of the Llano should only be navigated during periods of sufficient flow (at least 200 CFS). The water would be way to shallow if the flow was under 200 CFS so keep this in mind. Something else to consider is the fishing quality.
Although me and my dad landed quite a few fish, the overall landscape of the river wasn’t a prime habitat for large bass. There just wasn’t enough deeper sections of water for Largemouth Bass to roam. I wouldn’t suggest coming to this section for the big bass, but more so the great scenery and potential of catching many Guadalupe Bass.
This was a great trip with my dad and I will be back to this section of the Llano River in the near future. I probably will come with different tactics though…meaning I will only target Guadalupe Bass and some great photos of the landscape.
If you are interested in fishing the Llano River, this section gives you a feasible option. I’d suggest the South Llano River near Junction, Texas, but this is also a good option that can get you out on the water.