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San Saba River

The San Saba River is one of the most endangered rivers in Texas, but also one of the most beautiful and underrated.

Option 1

 

Location, Accessibility, and Landscape

The San Saba River is one of my favorite places to go in central Texas. Fortunately, getting to the San Saba River is quite easy and safe as well. If you are going to drive and need a place to park your car while you go fishing, a great spot to go is about ten miles south of Brady, Texas on U.S. Route 377. There is a small rest stop right off the highway with available parking. You will have to go on somewhat rugged terrain in order to get to the river from the parking lot, but it is not terrible if you are in good shape. You will definitely need to watch your step as you go down to the river because of the limestone your stepping on, but you will also want to watch out for cactus and other things that can sting, like rattlesnakes and scorpions which are quite abundant in Texas although I have not seen very many at this location. The fishing here is quite good, but is somewhat limited, as you can only go downstream due to some cattle fences upstream.

The natural landscape is quite beautiful with large cliffs alongside the river downstream a bit. The weather can be quite brutal though, as temperatures in excess of 100 degrees are common during summer.

Type of Water, Quality, and Features

One thing that you should note about this particular portion of the San Saba River, is that there is only a limited amount of "fishable" water. What I mean by this, is that depending on the amount of flow that is currently present at this section of water, depths can become extremely shallow in particular areas - so shallow that fish can't even swim and you will definitely have to get out and walk. The good news is that this section of river from U.S. Route 377 downstream quite a ways is great fishing. I have caught a five pound Largemouth Bass on this section of water along with several two pounders. What you need to be prepared for is what I like to call pool and rapid water. Basically, you will have a long pool of water for about 200 or 300 yards, then a section of shallow rapids for approximately 100-150 yards of water. After this section of rapids, you will encounter a much longer pool (anywhere from 300-500 yards) with some of the deeper water that you will encounter on the San Saba River. If water flow is 100 CFS or better, you can run the rapids clean with a little bit of bumping, but depending on your particular draft and type of boat you are using, 75-200 CFS is optimal for not too fast, but just enough to have some fun.

Water Clarity is quite good on this section of water, particularly for fishing, as visibility is anywhere from 5-6 feet on a good day, and no less than 3-4 foot in certain situations. This is primarily due to the spring fed water of the San Saba River and also the vast amount of limestone that the San Saba flows through.

Fishing Tactics and Tips

Fishing on the San Saba is pretty good for Largemouth Bass, Guadalupe Bass, and a wide variety of sunfish. Due to some sections of shallow water and faster water, such as the section of rapids between the two sections of pools, I would highly suggest to pack a few Worden's Rooster Tails in a 1/8 - 1/16 oz. weight configuration in a Firetiger coloration. I have had a lot of success with this particular coloration on this part of the San Saba by casting as close to the bank as possible, along with any structure, such as logs and exposed rocks. A Rooster Tail is great for catching a wide variety of fish, as it can catch all of the "sportfish" that inhabit the San Saba River.  If you are fishing for Guadalupe Bass, remember that they are like trout, as they stay in areas of faster flowing water facing upstream. This means that you will need to cast upstream and retrieve from a downstream configuration. For Largemouth, I like spinnerbaits, crankbaits, Texas Rigs, walk-the-dog style topwater baits (such as a Heddon Zara Spook or Zara Spool Jr.), and even some occasional jerkbaits.

Things to Watch out For

Although this is a very safe area in comparison to some of the places I have gone to, you will need to watch out for both human and animal dangers. Occasionally, small groups of people will come to this section of water to drink and party a little, but nothing too over the top. None the less, this is one of the disadvantages of an easy to get to access point. Animal dangers will be rattlesnakes, scorpions, ants, and some nocturnal animals such as raccoons. Bobcats and coyotes are also present, but are very rarely seen here, although they do inhabit the area.



Option 2

 

Location, Accessibility, and Landscape

This option for fishing on the San Saba River is quite different from the option just south of Brady, Texas. A little west of San Saba, Texas you will find County Road 340, which crosses over the San Saba River as you can see to the right. The water here varies in clarity, but continually seems to have a cloudy greenish-white silt that decreases that clarity of the water significantly in comparison to the water at the rest stop south of Brady, Texas. However, the water is still somewhat clear and plenty good for some fishing. In fact, you will feel like you’re are in a much more tropical like area than the rest stop south of Brady. You will find cliffs that are continuously 100 foot tall.

One thing you will need to watch out for, is that all the land around in this area is owned by farmers and such, so do not venture off the river unless you are in some sort of emergency of have a legitimate reason. As far as parking goes, there is a small section of grass that is pounded down off to the side of the river were people park. Although I do not think you would get in any trouble parking here, I would definitely look further into parking here if you are not getting dropped off, as it could be easy for people to mess around with your car while you are out on the water.

You will be able to put in at this part of the San Saba River without too much hassle, but you will have to go through a little bit of brush. You might be tempted to put in on the low water crossing that County Road 340 provides, but it is typically about 1-2 feet down to the water from the road. I would not suggest trying to get in here, but rather walking down to the river on the side you will park (If you do) about twenty yards. Once you are into the water, you will have to walk about another 20-30 yards in the water to pull your kayak or canoe through some faster flowing water that makes it extremely difficult to paddle upstream during certain times of the year.

I would not go downstream, but rather upstream then come back downstream, as there is a lot of shallow water downstream with rapids, but more fishable water upstream.

Type of Water, Quality, and Features

As I stated earlier, the water does have a silty appearance on this section of the San Saba, but it still has descent visibility and doesn't dampen your fishing ability much.

Upstream, there is just a small amount of fast flowing water that you will have to go through, but after this you will be fine as there is a long pool of water that is moving at a perfect rate. Right when you exit the faster flowing water into the large pool, you will notice a large section of lily pads to your left that are perfect for casting some worms, or my favorite - a topwater frog. Past these lily pads, your features are going to be limited to the banks, and some occasional brush and rocks. For the most part, this is a great section of the San Saba River for scenery and for Guadalupe Bass due to the slightly fast flowing water in sections, but do not worry because you won’t be battling some enormous current because the pools of water are significantly wider than the shoots or rapids, so the water is moving very slowly in the pool sections.

Fishing Tactics and Tips

Fishing on this section of the San Saba is good for Guadalupe Bass, and a wide variety of sunfish. I would most definitely bring a topwater frog and some Texas Rig setups for throwing into the lily pads. Lipless crankbaits seem to be successful in the larger sections of water, as do some loud and sporadic crankbaits.

If you do like to fish while you pull your boat through some rapids, I would bring a Worden's Rooster Tail to target Guadalupe Bass.

Things to Watch out For

The primary thing you will need to watch out for is respecting other people’s property. Stay on the river unless an emergency arises. As for the parking issue, I would definitely suggest having someone drop you off if you are local to the area. However, if you need to park, you will probably fine parking here but I would suggest going to the San Saba River south of Brady, Texas on U.S. Route 377 which I mentioned above in Option 1. Something that you will definitely want to watch out for is snakes. Every time I have gone to this particular location there has been snakes right around the low water crossing of County Road 340. I have not seen any venomous snakes, but you will still want to watch where you step and have your eyes open.