I know, the title to this post may not conjure visions of pristine beauty and optimal surroundings for prime time fishing for some people. If this is the case for you, my friend, then let me introduce you to my favorite section of the Mighty Brazos River! Located in Old Washington, Texas, near Hildalgo Falls, there’s a spot of the Brazos River owned by my friends the Nobles Family.
A family of Old Washington natives, the Nobles family is an amazing clan of kind, hard working men and women with one of the last privately owned strongholds on the Brazos River located on Hidalgo Falls. Hidalgo Falls is the only set of waterfalls on the Brazos River. The view is truly amazing with high, muddy banks and wide, deep fishing holes. This is the perfect environment for one of the largest fresh water sportfish: the flathead catfish. Also known as the Opelousa, Shovelhead or Yellow Cat, depending on where you’re from, this species of catfish can grow upwards of 100 pounds. It’s possible to catch them on a rod and reel, but the most common way to catch the larger ones in on a trotline or drop line. When you’re fishing for fish that average 50 pounds, it’s no wonder why we return year after year for we’ve deemed our “Annual Meat Run.”
More than just a means to fill our freezers and fryers with catfish, this part of the muddy Brazos River has become a spot for more of a “family reunion,” providing my friends and I angling joy for the past 12 years. The fishing is great, don’t get me wrong, but it’s more about the place/people/community when I’m on the Brazos. It’s a land that time has forgotten, not me!
The Brazos River has proven to build comradery and maintain relationships that otherwise would have changed just as the muddy banks of the Brazos! This past trip I found out that the Brazos River had at one time tried to be controlled by a series of locks and dams. Man being man, we thought we could control these muddy banks for transportation of riverboats and agriculture products, but the Brazos had a much different plan! The Mighty Brazos soon “ate” away around the sides of the locks and dams and diverted the river around the diversions, creating some pretty dramatic “mini floods.” Hidalgo Falls was the furthest south the riverboats could go even with the locks and dam in working condition because of the shear size of the massive rocks creating it. Currently, aside from the Nobles family, Texas Rivers Protection Association owns the adjoining property, a 13 acre, privately owned park used for canoeing and kayaking enthusiasts that are certified by the TRPA. The TRPA, combined with the Brazos River Authority, has been instrumental at cleaning and preserving this part of the Brazos. The Nobles family does their part as well on their land, and each weekend out there is a chance to cut, clean, mow and pick up any litter that comes down the river. I’ve had my fair share of rashes from the poison ivy, but gladly do it again year after year. It is a common goal amongst all inhabitants and users of this particular part to keep it clean and usable for future generations to use and enjoy as much as we have. This is a truly special place for all who go, and it is our hope that it remains in as good a condition as it was when it was first discovered. It is, after all, the birthplace of the Republic of Texas! Although my favorite spot is privately owned, you can go to the TRPA’s website for more information on how to get out there to it if you’re interested in kayaking around the Falls. The Mighty Brazos River may have muddy waters, but it should become crystal clear once you’re out there why it’s such a magical place, and one that deserves our respect and effort to keep it that way.