Fishing the Devils River - From a Pau Hana Endurance

There are many different rivers in the state of Texas that I enjoy fishing, but one river has consistently set itself apart from the others – the Devils River. There are some aspects that I really like when fishing a river. I like clean and clear water. I like hills and cliffs around me. I like vegetation in the water...but no too much. I like rock bottom rivers. Lastly, I like rivers that can produce a lot of fish. The Devils River encompasses all of these aspects as it is spring fed and therefor very clear, has lots of large cliffs and hills surrounding the water, and there is an abundant amount of fish to catch. Although I have gone to the Devils River quite a few times, what made this trip unique was what I used to travel across the water – my Pau Hana Endurance.

Clint Taylor, Pau Hana Endurance, Devils River, Malta Carbon, Aquabound

Before heading to the Devils River with my dad, we decided to do something a little different. My dad was going to take my Jackson Kayak Big Tuna solo and I was going to take my Pau Hana Endurance. The Big Tuna would haul the majority of the gear with my Endurance serving as a hardcore fishing paddleboard. I typically have used my Jackson Kayaks for such rugged environments, but I recently started fishing from a paddleboard and I think it is an awesome way to fish. Although I have fished off of my Endurance quite a bit, the Devils River is a little different from most rivers so I would definitely be going into a different environment. I was very excited to give the Endurance a shot at the rugged Devils River and see what it could handle.

The Gear I Used

Something that can be very helpful is knowing what gear to use. I have always been thankful for any information I can find on the internet to help me catch more fish so I try to do the same. This is the gear that I used for this trip to the Devils River on day 1 and day 2.

Gear for Day One:

Kayak / Paddleboard: Pau Hana Endurance

Paddle: Aquabound Malta Carbon

Life Jacket: MTI Adventurewear Helios 2.0

Rod: Berkley E Motion 6'6" Medium Light Spinning

Reel: Pflueger President

Line: Power Pro 10 lb. Braid

Lure: Weightless Texas Rigged Rage Tail Space Monkey in Green Pumpkin and Watermelon Red Flake

Sunglasses: Smith Optics Redmond with ChromaPop+ Polarized Brown Lenses

Water Bottle: Klean Kanteen Insulated Classic 20 oz.

Gear for Day Two:

Kayak / Paddleboard: Pau Hana Endurance

Paddle: Aquabound Malta Carbon

Life Jacket: MTI Adventurewear Helios 2.0

Rod: Berkley Lightning Rod 7'0" Medium Heavy Baitcasting

Reel: Abu Garcia Orra SX

Line: Power Pro 30. lb. Braid

Lure: Weightless Texas Rigged Rage Tail Space Monkey in Green Pumpkin and Watermelon Red Flake

Sunglasses: Smith Optics Redmond with ChromaPop+ Polarized Brown Lenses

Water Bottle: Klean Kanteen Insulated Classic 20 oz.

Day 1

Devils River

Day 1 was pretty exciting and eventful. The weather was near perfect with temperatures in the upper 70’s, overcast skies, and just a gentle breeze. One thing I really appreciate about the Devils River is the water quality. I was a little concerned that some recent rainfall upstream might have deposited some silt into the Devils River and therefor clouding the water. Fortunately, the water was very clear and clean. There was some growth of Hydrilla due to not having significant flow in the river, but there wasn’t so much to take away from the experience…in fact, this Hydrilla would play a crucial role in my success.

Upon paddling for a few minutes on the Devils River with my Pau Hana Endurance I realized there was some prime fishing to be done in the Hydrilla. I say this because I spotted a lot of bass in the Hydrilla very quickly, and big bass at this. For some people, including myself at one point in time, vegetation like Hydrilla was a poor sight to see. This was only because I had a lack of knowledge on how to fish it. On this trip I came with a lot more experience and was ready to take on any challenge ahead of me. I knew there has always been vegetation on the Devils River and I came prepared to fish in whatever vegetation I could find. It is near impossible trying to throw crankbaits, jerkbaits, or anything with an exposed hook in vegetation so I wouldn’t even recommend giving it a shot. What I was using is a Texas Rigged Rage Tail Space Monkey without a weight in a green pumpkin and watermelon red flake coloration. The reason for going weightless is because in clearer water fish become a lot more finicky. You have to keep your distance (very important), you can’t let the fish see your shadow (make sure the sun is always in front of you), and most importantly, you have to present as natural of a presentation of possible. Although there is a time and place for the traditional weighted Texas Rig, clear water is not one of those times in my opinion. The natural fall of a Space Monkey without a weight is devastating in clear water. Sometimes a bass will spot the weight and notice something unnatural. You also want to choose a color that has some translucency to it as this will aid in a natural appearance. This is why I went with the green pumpkin and watermelon red flake coloration as it provided the most natural appearance for the environment.  Fortunately, the fish agreed with me on my fishing tactics for this trip and I soon started to catch some fish.

I used my Pau Hana Endurance to position myself in some of the Hydrilla so that I could cast into less congested areas of Hydrilla. The fin that is attached underneath my Endurance has always done a great job at keeping my board straight when paddling through the water, but I actually used the fin in an unorthodox manner for this trip. The fin on my Endurance in combination with the Hydrilla worked to provide a perfect anchor for me. I could really find a spot I liked and stay put. This was important, as I was fishing a finesse style and really needed that control. Casting from the Endurance was a breeze and incredibly stable. I saw lots of fish in pockets of Hydrilla, but it took me a while to get one interested. The key was I was too close and I wasn’t working my lure slow enough. I started to distance myself and let the Space Monkey do some exploration. My Smith Optics Redmond was crucial in this style of fishing as I really needed to keep an eye on my lure and that is not always easy to do – especially from a distance. My Redmond sunglasses with ChromaPop+ lenses did a great job at cutting glare and letting me see into the water better. I soon saw some more fish and casted out to them. I caught a lot of interest and much more to go with it. I eventually started landing some nice bass with my Space Monkey and I figured out how to catch some fish on the Devils River. The key was keeping my distance and really letting the Space Monkey have as natural of a fall as possible. Of course I threw in a few twitches to give the lure a more life-like look, but this can definitely be overdone so don't go too crazy.

Devils River BassClint Taylor Devils River Bass

I was catching many bass after I got the hang of it, with most being over a pound and a half and some reaching close to four pounds. There weren’t any monsters on this day, but there definitely was some quality fish in an unbelievable location. I can't stress enough how important some things are in clear water fishing such as the Devils River. You really have to keep your distance because if you don't the fish will see you and be very cautious. Only on rare occasion will a bass bite a lure after seeing you. The next thing is closely related but slightly different. Just as the fish seeing you can be detrimental, so can when a fish sees your shadow - so keep the sun in front of you. This can be hard to remember but always try to keep the sun in front of where you are fishing. The last thing is providing a natural presentation. This might sound self explanatory, but fish see much better in clear water so you really have to present a tasty option for them. Soft plastics that are slightly translucent are really the way to go, and if you can go weightless do it. You just have to be patient with your presentation and have confidence in what you are doing. Once I slowed down and tried to really focus on the fundamentals I started to catch a lot more interest from the bass and soon a lot more strikes. The fishing went from slow and very little action to an abundance of strikes and lots of quality fish. 

Devils River BassClint Taylor Devils River Fishing

Sometimes it can be easy for me to get caught up in the search to find fish and not fully take in the scenery around me, but luckily, I felt like I caught enough fish towards the late afternoon that I was able to take some time and really just enjoy all that God had surrounded me with. There are a lot of amazing cliffs and sites to see on the Devils River. I even stumbled across a variety of wildlife, including several Nutria that were swimming around and lots of different birds. It was awesome paddling the Endurance around on the Devils River. I saw tons of fish and really just had a great time paddling without any fishing at all… but of course I got back to fishing after a while.

Devils RiverDevils RiverBird On Devils RiverNutria Devils RiverBirds Devils RiverDevils River

As dusk was setting in I decided to fish one last area that is right by a large spring that feeds the Devils River – an area that I refer to as the Blue Lagoon. Typically, my go to weapon is a topwater frog, as I can cover a lot of ground and not have to worry about getting snagged on something; however, I had a lot of success fishing my Rage Tail Space Monkey that I decided to continue with the trend. I did change from my medium light spinning setup that I had used all day to my medium heavy baitcasting setup. There is some heavy vegetation on the floor of the Blue Lagoon and a lot of times bass will try to escape into the weeds upon being hooked. This is not what you want with a lighter setup so the medium heavy baitcasting setup with 30 lb. braided line was just what I wanted.

I paddled in slowly with my Pau Hana Endurance and soon the frenzy began. I couldn't keep up with how many fish I was catching because it seemed like each cast I was catching some big bass. I caught several bass within 10-15 minutes, but as for the exact number I could not tell you...this is always a good problem to have. All of these bass were extremely healthy and a blast to catch as well. I couldn’t have ended Day 1 with a better result.

Clint Taylor Pelican Case Coast Flashlights

As the day came to a close it was time to eat some fajitas and have a cold beverage. There is nothing like a nice meal after a long day. My ORCA 26 qt. cooler really helped me out so that I could have cold food in such a hot environment. It truly is refreshing to have a cold beverage to drink and end the day on. My Coast HX3 helped me out around the campsite as well, as there is only the light provided by the night sky at the Devils River. After eating and settling down I had to get some sleep from all the excitement so I could go into Day 2. 

Day 2

After getting better than expected rest, I woke up to go fishing once again. I had no doubt in my mind as to what my tactics were going to be – Rage Tail Space Monkey fishing on my Pau Hana Endurance. I started off the morning with quite different conditions than the previous day. Unlike the windless, and overcast day prior, I was faced with strong winds and a much sunnier day on day 2. I was a little discouraged as wind like this can make finesse fishing pretty difficult, but I went ahead and gave it a shot.

I soon found some success as I had docked my Endurance in some Hydrilla using the fin like I did on day 1. Several large openings in the Hydrilla were holding some quality bass and I hooked a few of them. Sight fishing for these bass was unbelievable.  The more I was able to see the bass react the better I was able to fish for them and this is why some good polarized sunglasses can be crucial. I soon realized that casting into the Hydrilla and working my Space Monkey out of it into the open pockets was very successful. Sometimes when you just cast right where some bass are it can do two things – spook them and make them swim away, or they can just explode on the splash in protection. Swimming away is a little more common in shallow water so I really had to finesse my Space Monkey to where the bass were. When I casted into the Hydrilla I would work my Space Monkey until it just entered the open pockets where the bass were hanging out. After this I let it just sit and sink slowly. This was when a lot of bass caught interest and a lot also bit during this initial fall. There were some bass that took a little more enticing though, so a few twitches were thrown in to catch their attention. I can’t tell you how effective this tactic was, but I will just say you should give it a shot if you go to the Devils River.

One thing some more experienced fisherman might be wondering is how was I able to use a medium light spinning rod with 10 lb. braid in such heavy vegetation. The answer is very carefully and with the help of my Endurance. One of the nice things about fishing from a paddleboard is the ability to always resolve a snag. I intentionally was using a light setup so that I could get the fish to bite, however, it was a struggle fighting them in heavy vegetation. In fact, I caught a nice bass in a section of water that contained spotted areas of Hydrilla and right after a bass bit my Space Monkey it swam right into some thick Hydrilla. There wasn’t much I could do so I had to paddle over to where the fish was and eventually jump in the water to get the bass loose. It was an adventure no doubt, but a blast.

Clint Taylor Devils River Fishing Pau Hana EnduranceClint Taylor Devils River Bass Fishing

This is why fishing from a paddleboard can be so rewarding. There are few watercraft that could do something like I was on the Devils River, and few paddleboards at that, but the Pau Hana Endurance really helped me out. I will say I did lose some fish who swam into the thick vegetation upon being hooked, and because of this I eventually switched to my beefier setup. I really liked using the medium light spinning setup because I could really give a finesse presentation; however, this wasn't optimal any time a bass swam into some Hydrilla. I eventually made the decision to go to my medium heavy baitcasting setup so I could have a little more control of the fish. This was a good decision and gave me a lot more power in controlling the fish.

On this second day I caught many fish along side my dad as well. One thing that without a doubt gave me an advantage was my Pau Hana Endurance. It was unbelievably stealthy (which is crucial for fishing in clear water), and performed flawlessly in such a rugged environment. I never thought that I would ever take a paddleboard to the Devils River, but I will say that the Endurance was a great option. 

Overall Trip

You can always expect an adventure on the Devils River, and assuming the adventure doesn't get the best of you, you will always have a good time. I've been to the Devils River several times now and each occasion was different. On some trips the water was clearer than other times. Sometimes the weather was perfect and sometimes it has been raining with lighting in all directions. On some trips I have caught big fish and others not so big. I've also caught a lot of fish (like on this trip) and not so many on others.

Devils River