Don’t Use the Beach!

I was out yesterday too. And I finally got to see them, a whole bunch, just West of Field 10.


I generally avoid boat ramps - at best most of them are covered with slime, at worse you are impeding other users who will just get annoyed and consider paddlers competition for their resource. I have not had any issues with park, public, or Texas Parks and Wildlife when I have been forced to use one. I have generally had good encounters with TPW, discussing places to paddle, and alternative put in’s. While talking with one at Windy Point on Lake Travis - I was told it was technically against the rules to launch there due to it being a swimming zone, and I could only paddle beyond the buoys - I tried to explain the reason I wanted to paddle there was due to the boat traffic outside the buoys. He did go on to say he would not bother to prevent me from paddling there unless there was a public complaint. I only paddled near there a couple times - one of which drunk sailboater’s intentionally changed tack to try to run me down (but of course a kayak is more maneuverable than a sailboat). They laughed a lot as they missed me. Anyway, plenty of sailboat free places to paddle near Austin.

Carry a signal flair.

The best advice is use the beach and avoid boat ramps.


Paddling around the country is complicated! Lots of different rules and local regs. In general I like the stream less paddled. In some ways less hassle when the area isn’t actively managed for paddling. Sometimes though it is convenient to use park facilities that other users share. In general, I try to follow the rules and find most park rangers agreeable.

Now that I said all that, I’m pretty much a" try it first and see what happens" person. One of the popular ramps on the new river (wv) is a broken ankle waiting to happen (concrete bars with gaps in between). Years ago the park service bouldered off the grandview sandbar and made it a “natural area”. Often when there aren’t fishermen I walk my boat across that “natural area” instead of using the designated ramp.

In general, I prefer forest service campgrounds and BLM launch areas over state parks which tend to be more developed. I feel pretty fortunate to live in a part of the country where you can usually park and access a stream roadside and not get into trouble. My fear is that those days are ending. WV has had a culture of sharing the outdoors, think hunting and fishing. This is less so in areas near the borders of the state.

I stayed quiet on an online conference meeting where the rec boaters wanted more signage and more ramps for their floating barges (heavy fishing SOTs). I don’t need a ramp but I do like a safe place to park. I just kept quiet as I imagined the department of natural resources coming up with a justification for user fees to pay for the new ramps.