June 22nd, 2013
by Dave Kitson
Joe Coker and I decided to do a trip in the Picketts Bayou area on Saturday, June 22. Picketts is located approximately 6 miles due north, as the crow flies, from Crawdads (I-10 and the Old River/Lost River Bridge). We put in at the very nice Picketts Bayou boat ramp around 9:30 and headed south.
Most of the upper end of Picketts is fairly broad and, with the exception of a couple of houses, very natural forest. Someone has hung various objects such as wind chimes and floats way up in the trees and there are also a couple of signs nailed to trees. It is not known if this stuff was put there by the land owners or not. On the way down we encountered a fishing boat and a catamaran pontoon boat which headed further on down the stream as we approached. We expected to see them at the sand island that exists at the first major bend in the river however, when we arrived there we found no boats. The water is very shallow and is not very wide on the left side of the island so we were puzzled as to where the boats had gone. A little further down we found them so we just had to ask how they got past the island. They said it was no problem but it sure seems very tight and shallow for a good sized motor boat, especially the pontoon boat.
Not too far past the island the bayou necks down to less than 15’ wide and begins to meander its way to the Cut Off. This stretch is about as beautiful as it gets with the tree canopy forming an arch overhead and the sounds of the forest the only thing to hear. As soon as we entered this part of the bayou we noticed a 2 mph or so current pushing back up stream. This current suggested that the Cut Off was flowing. If that is the case it is not wise to go downstream since it could be a real bear to come back upstream. If that were case we would have taken a left at the Cut Off and gone upstream to the Trinity which would have allowed us to coast back downstream at the end of the day. In the event, there was little current on the Cut Off so we turned right and headed in the general direction of Old River.
The Cut Off is a very natural stream with almost no sign of civilization beyond a couple of wrecked fishing boats. We paddled on down to the log jam which has picked up a few more branches since a group of us cleared it a few months ago (The story is in the Waterline). It is just past the log jam that the unnamed bayou heads off to the left.
I was sitting in this stream waiting for Joe to come around the bend when I bumped gently into a newly fallen tree. I looked over and realized that there was a wasp nest in the tree that was about a foot above the water and that I had just managed to stir them up so I immediately bailed out. Unfortunately I got one sting anyway. The water there is deep, over my head, and the bank is steep so I spent the next 20 minutes trying to climb up the steep, muddy bank so I could empty the boat out. Having accomplished that task it was time to try and get in the boat from the steep muddy bank. I had never actually gotten in a boat using the paddle bridging the boat and the bank technique but with excellent coaching from Joe was able to do it. We went up the bayou about another ¾ mile before a fallen tree ended the day and it was time to turn around. Joe and I had done this stream in January and although there were a lot of fallen trees we were able to get to what I think is Lost River (Maps are not really clear about that). On this day it was not to be so we headed back. On the way back we explored a small side stream that goes for a couple hundred yards before petering out. Due to the large number of fallen trees here I suspect that not very many folks get on this bayou, certainly no fishermen in motor boats, so you really feel like you are out in the middle of nowhere.
We stopped at the sand island on Picketts to stretch our legs. There was actually no island as the water had risen to cover the sand by about 6” but it was great to stand around for a few minutes and rest our behinds. Joe discovered yet another wasp nest hanging under a branch that was sticking out of the water a couple feet. On top of the branch was a fishing lure that I guess the fisherman was not brave enough to retrieve. Joe, however, was brave enough and the wasps did not appear to be using it so he walked over and got himself a new lure.
We ended up spending a fine 5.8 hours on the water and traveled about 11.6 miles. Joe has downloaded his photos from this trip to the website so check them out.
|The author, Dave Kitson