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HomeNL-2011-06 Brazos River
Brazos River Fossil Hunting
April 28, 2011
John Rich
On April 28th, three paddlers in two tandem canoes took a 15-mile day trip down the Brazos River, from Interstate-10 to FM-1093 in Simonton.  The participants were John Rich from Houston Canoe Club, along with Gary Wiist and Taylor Broun, who usually use a canoe for coastal fishing.

The put-in and take-out were standard Brazos River fare: steep and unimproved.  Fortunately there was no slippery mud.  With multiple hands for the task, two men to a boat, the carry up and down the hill was only moderately strenuous.

The water level was low, but still plentiful for floating a canoe.  There was flowing current of one or two miles per hour, depending upon river width, so you made progress downstream even while drifting lazily enjoying the sights.  The water quality here is much better than just upstream, where it is heavily laden with muddy silt and has zero visibility.  This stretch of the Brazos actually had somewhat clear water and you could see the bottom in the shallow spots.  The bars were plentiful, wide and clean, with sand and/or dirt, and very little mud or trash.  Most were also free of cow patties.

The purpose of the trip was fossil hunting, which is often excellent during low-water periods, when bars are exposed that haven't been seen in a while.  Petrified wood was very plentiful, along with some petrified bones, pretty rocks, odd-shaped sandstone, and a few other assorted goodies.

There were not a large number of birds to be seen, but they included hawks, buzzards, egrets, herons, ducks, and one kingfisher.  Also a few variety of shore birds that I normally associate with an ocean beach environment.

We covered the 15-miles in about 9 hours, from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, but we spent literally hours walking sandbars exploring, and took a long, lazy lunch break.  The trip could certainly be made in less time. 

One technique practiced by Gary and Taylor while fishing from a tandem canoe is this: They stop the boat at the top end of a bar and one occupant hops out and starts walking downstream to explore the bar.  The remaining occupant paddles the boat half-way down the length of the bar, beaches the boat, and hops out to explore the bottom half of the bar.  The first guy to get out of the boat then picks it up half-way down, and paddles it down to the bottom end of the bar, to pick up the second occupant.  With this leap-frog technique they can explore the entire bar without duplicating each other, and with a minimum of walking.  Works good for fishing, and also for exploring!

Below is a link to the slideshow I've created of the river trip, that will tell the rest of the story with photos and captions.

Click the button-link above, then click "Slideshow".  If the automatic photo-scrolling changes the images too fast for you, click the pause button at the bottom ("||"), and then scroll manually using either the arrow buttons on the screen, or the arrow keys on your keyboard. 


 The author, John Rich