Windy today and needed to get out so we made the “ramp tour” today.  We needed fresh info on the ramps anyway.  So, here you go in the order we checked them today.  The lake is now 5 feet 4 1/2 inches low.  Really good shape for fishing and generally all the ramps are in the water.

1)   Hamm Creek Park.   I don’t know why we were confused on this park which is located west of Rio Vista in Johnson County.  It is on the Brazos itself several miles above Whitney Lake.  We thought this was a Corps of Engineers park and we learned today that the Corps did build it, but Johnson County assumed control of it about 5 years ago and now runs it.  We also learned that in addition to the $3.00 boat launch fee, there is a $1.00 per person daily admittance fee.  The ramps are in good shape and there is plenty of parking:

If you just need a short run from the Cleburne area to the Brazos and north end of Whitney, Hamm Creek is the quickest point to get on the water.   For those that don’t know, this is the park that Chet Edwards built with “ear-mark” money for Johnson County.   Probably as well spent as any gov’ment money…. all us folks can enjoy it for a small fee.

2)   Cedar Creek Park.   I think this is the only ramp that the Corps did not get the boat dock sidewalk down the side of the ramp while it was out of the water.  But, the ramp is in good shape.  Only one lane to launch from; the other has the boat dock blocking most of it.

There is a lot of good grass growing on some of the shallow flats along the shore here.  Juniper Cove is a great place to catch some good old biggerns.  The launch fee here is FREE.. can’t beat the price.

The road down to the park is in as good a shape as it has been for a number of years.  We only counted two pot holes coming out.

3) Juniper Cove Marina.  This shot is from across the lake.  It appears the Juniper Cove primary ramp is back in use.  We didn’t stop to chat with them so we are just guessing.

This photo was taken from the Cedar Creek Park boat dock just across the creek.  The daily launch fee at Juniper Cove is $10.

4)  McCown Valley Park.   We have fished twice out of this ramp this past week.  It is in really good shape and we are loving the sliding ramp.

This is our favorite ramp because of the 3 lanes and mid-lake location with plenty of parking.  The $3.00 daily Corps launch fee is good, but even better with our annual pass and 50% senior discount.  Just costs us pennies to launch at these Corps ramps and they are all in great condition, and well taken care of by the Corps.

5) Cedron Creek Park.  This is a seasonal park and is not currently open, so the ramp is not open.  However, we were by there by boat the other day and the ramp is in good shape.  It has the new sidewalk down the side for the sliding boat dock.  The daily launch fee in the park is $3.00 when it is open which is April 1 to October 1.  It is also one of our favorite ramps.  Camping in this park, if you like to bank fish or have kids that like to bank fish, is the best because the creek channels are easily fishable and there are always lots of fish in the area… not to mention the long shallow point that the whites like to school off of.  And, the Corps keeps those banks in good shape, well mowed so only the blind folks tramp over any of those skinny snakes.

6.  Lake Whitney State Park.  The ramp here is open according to the Park Ranger at the gate.   We didn’t want to spend the $3.00 per person admittance to drive down to the ramp for 5 minutes to take the picture so we took the Park Ranger’s word for it.   We have been by there on week days before and they will let you do a courtesy drive by the ramp to take a look for free, but that is a “during the week” priviledge and not weekends.  We will pass on their invitation to come back Monday and just take their word for it that the ramp is open.  There is no launch fee, but there is a $3.00 per day admittance fee for folks older than 13 years.  There are annual State Park Passes available as well.

7)  Lofers Bend Day Use Area.  This area was closed today.  We visited with the gate keeper and was advised that the Park is closed for construction and renovation.  They were re-working the parking lots and building a new play area for children.  They didn’t want folks in the middle of their construction project.  We did not get any indication of when this would be wrapped up, but based upon this photo, we would think it would be soon.  When it is open, this is a great sheltered ramp.  The parking is the most plentiful of all the Corps parks on the lake.

Boat Launch fee is $3.00 per day.

8) Lofers Bend West.  Like Cedron Creek Park, this park is closed during the winter.  It opens from April 1 to October 1.  Its a good ramp and we think it is likely in the water, but have not actually seen it.  I think it would be pretty good when open as it is sheltered from both the north wind and the south winds.  The Boat Launch fee is $3.00 per day.  We like the main lake views from those high bluff camp sites.

9) Harbor Master Marina.   The ramp is open there and there are friendly folks to visit with.  We stopped and visited with Rusty one of the owners there.

Rusty was painting the inside of his house, but took the time to visit for a while.  I did note that the brush Rusty was using was about 1/2 inch wide.  I looked at it and he said he wasn’t in any hurry with his painting and didn’t want a bigger brush.   Rusty said the water being down 16 feet or so hadn’t bothered their marina.  He said the cove there still had 18 feet of water under the boats when the lake was down at 16 feet, the cove just got kind of narrow.   He said he was a bit concerned about the lake being only 5 feet down now.  If the Whitney area gets any big rains during the February to May time frame, the lake will jump up to flood stage.  Rusty said flood control lakes are up and down a lot.  The Whitney situation is compounded by being below Lake Granbury which is shallow.  He says the BRA doesn’t like for the water to run over that dam so they open it to let the water flow when it gets close.  But, water going up and down is part of life on the lake at a marina on a flood control lake.  Rusty says when he retires, it will be to a lake that has a constant lake level.

These fellows in the boat were not headed to the main lake, but were staying inside the marina.  Even at that, the boat was blown way back in the marina before they got the motor started….  WINDY down in this part of the lake when the wind is from the north.

The launch fee is $3.00 at Harbor Master Marina.

10) Lofers Bend East.   We didn’t get in to get a current picture of this ramp.  But, since we have fished out of here nearly every week since mid-summer and especially when the lake was down 15 to 16 feet we are very confident that it is still in good shape.  It also has the new sidewalk for the sliding boat ramp.  It is a 3 lane ramp and all the ramps were scrubbed clean down below the 16 foot level.   This one was a head-scratcher though.   We had our annual day pass  hanging in the window when we drove up to the gate.  But, it was a gate keeper we have not seen before.  She advised that we couldn’t get in because our pass was a day pass and the only day use they had was for a boat launch.  Since we were not pulling a boat, we couldn’t come in, not even to just visit the ramp and see how it was.  And when we told her we just wanted a quick picture, it got even stranger… she said we need a permit to take pictures of the ramps and wanted to refer us to the Corps of Engineers person in charge of the parks at Whitney to get the permit.   She advised that his office was on the other side of the dam, but when we indicated that we might go over and visit today, she said, no, they were “government employees” and that they only worked 8 to 5 week days and that we could call him or come back next week….

Well, we actually don’t need a picture… we know that ramp is good.. but likely taking a beating today because there was a gale blowing out of the north and that ramp is right on the open lake and when the wind comes from the north you might just get your boat washed up into the back of your pickup or your pickup washed into the lake… either way, not good.

The boat launch fee is $3.00 at Lofers Bend East.   There is adequate parking there.

Bosque Resort.  Can you say “LUNCH.”   It was about noon so we stopped for an upscale lunch.  Good eats and man they were fast today.. they must have WD-40ed that kitchen… we barely got sit down and ordered before they were bringing it out…  good stuff.. Big old Chicken Fried Steak and lots of options for side stuff…  sweeeeet tea!

Being old folks, the Boss and I split this and were still stuffed!

11)  Uncle Gus’s Marina.   We made a run by Uncle Gus’s Marina to check on it.  Lots of tournaments run out of his place and he is big time “fisherman friendly.”   We have enjoyed visiting with Uncle Gus’s folks before.  Today, though, the boat shop was closed when we got there.  We went on down to the ramp and took some photos.

There is plenty of water in the marina.   These boys were trying to get in some bass fishing and trying to stay out of the wind… or maybe this was their secret hole.. who knows.

Anyway, they were hard at it and never looked around.  The ramp looked to be in great shape.  The launch fee is $5.00. Just drop it in the Al Gore lock box at the head of the ramp if Uncle Gus isn’t open.

The marina also had plenty of water.

We have never been here by water… we are going to have to figure it out one day… we are always confused as to whether they are on Rocky Creek or Little Rocky Creek…..  another head scratcher.

12)   Walling Bend North.   This ramp is actually outside Walling Bend Park, just down from the entrance to the park the highway runs right out into the water.  This is a shallow ramp, but it was open.  If you are not familiar with this one, you had best take care.  It is in the back of a small pocket and there is a considerable point that runs out from the Walling Bend Peninsula from south to north out from the right of the ramp.  There is a channel to the lake, and you should stay in it unless you know what you are doing.

This ramp is free for the boat launch.

The next ramp is what I call Walling Bend South or the Walling Bend ramp on Rocky Creek.

The ramp here is in great shape.  The Corps did all the usual repair work and more.   I think they re-poured some of the lower end of the ramp when they installed the dock sidewalk.   Anyway, it is good to go.  There is no launch fee at this ramp either. FREE.

On the way in and out we saw two huge herds of deer.  I say herds because there were more than 20 deer in each group.   They were chowing down… does that mean the fish were biting?

 13) Steele Creek Park.  Next up the lake is Steele Creek Park.  There are two ramps in this park.  The first we visited was the “Red Bluff” ramp.  This ramp was one of the two Corps ramps that remained open during the really low water.   Strange that today, it seemed to be the only open Corps ramp that was not usable.  It was covered with washed up debris; lots of it.

Its a two lane ramp.  There is plenty of parking at this ramp and the launch fee is FREE!  Just can’t beat that.

Be aware that there are lots of shallow water hazards in this area of the lake…. just a cautionary note.

The other ramp in Steele Creek Park is on Steele Creek itself.  Having seen this ramp when the water was down, I know it is a long steep ramp and they had it re-worked when we were there last.

As you can see, it got the sliding dock side walk as well.  There is no launch fee at this ramp.  However, this ramp is back in the creek and it is a ways out to the main lake.  Lots of stumps and timber.  You need to know your way around Steele Creek to use this ramp in my opinion.  Even if you have a good GPS map system I would say that you need to idle all the way out to the main lake from this ramp and visa versa.

But, Steele Creek is reportedly one of the better fishing areas.  There are some great shallow flats with lots of grass in them around this area.  Not saying there are bass there… not gonna say that, but boy it really looks good now.

14)  Lakeside Village and Marina.   As you probably know, the owners closed Lakeside Marina this past winter…  Is winter past yet?  Anyway not long ago.   Both the Marina and the ramp were closed, as in gated and locked.  I thought that the ramp there was a Corps ramp, and so did the gatekeeper at Plowman Park, the next Corps park up the lake.  Anyway, he thought that ramp was open.  Not open, its closed.  When it is open, it is free to launch from here.

The Marina looks good though, it has water now.  But, the Marina may have been like a drowning person… you have to have air (or money/business), or water in this case, when you need it, not 6 months later.

There was still a boat or two in the slips… at least we could see some from the ramp.

15)  Plowman Creek Park.   This ramp was open as well.  Nice facility and I would guess a lot of good fishing in the area.  There is an island between the ramp and the main river channel.  I have fished the Plowman Creek area before and I think it can be a hot spot, especially if you fish that stumpy flat area around the creek as it winds back up into the country.  It is not an area we frequent so I can’t say for sure.

Its a nice two lane ramp and its out of the wind.   It was plenty windy today and I was feeling it on the ramp.  There were two really brave (I guess you could say brave) folks out there in a canoe today.   Its seemed pretty cold, windy and such to be canoeing in heavy coats… but, hey what do I know, I am not a canoe person; I am lucky to keep my bass boat up-right in these kinds of winds.  The launch fee here is the standard $3.00 Corps fee.

16)  Kimball Bend Park.    If you like to river fish, this is a great park.  You can fish the Brazos, you can fish the Nolan River, or you can fish the upper end of Whitney.   Very cool.  When we started fishing Whitney, this is where we launched.  It is the next ramp down from Hamm Creek, the second closest from Cleburne.   It is just on the west side of the river.  I know that when they do the Fun-N-Sun Memorial Tournament in April, this area, the river area, is where the reported biggest stringers come from.  It is not a long run from Lakeside and wouldn’t be much of a run from Juniper Cove where the Tournament is supposed to be run out of this year.  BUT, if coming from the south end of the lake, you do need to use caution in the area from just below Steele Creek / White Bluff up to Plowman.  That river channel twists and turns in that area and there is a lot of shallow areas with lots of structure…. likely good fishing, but not some place you want to be skiing or maxing your 300 hp outboard.    I think the nearest place you could get that lower unit replaced is Juniper Cove and if you lose the transom, you might need a CB radio rather than a cell phone.

If you are a history buff, the Kimball Bend Park is a really neat place.  It has some old ruins that date back to the Chisholm Trail days as this was one of the locations where the trail crossed the Brazos.  Pretty cool.  And, like most of the rest of the Corps Parks it has great camping and ramp facilities.  The boat launch fee is $3.00.

Currently, there is a lot of trash and debris in the river.  Be cautious is my word to the wise.

That’s a little high spot out there in the center of the picture.  The channel from the ramp to the river is close to the bank.  You have to take care not to run aground here.  The ramp is a two lane ramp, but it has some of this “dynamic structure” on it now.  I asked one old boy that boated in about the “dynamic structure” in the river and he looked at me like I was crazy.. “What’s that?”… floating logs and such, I said.   “Oh” he said, “Well, its much better now than it was 3 days ago. Mostly floated to the sides of the river.”

Actually only one lane on this two lane ramp was usable due to debris.   There is lots of parking at this ramp, nice facility.

These boys were cat fishing… actually cat-catching as they said they had some good blues caught on shad they netted up early this morning.

These other fellas came in from bass fishing and breaking in their new boat.  We were there long enough to seem them zoom down river and then come back a while later to trailer their boat.  They said they caught 2 fourteen inch fish up in the Nolan.  They said the water temp up there was about 60 degrees and there was plenty of grassy and stumpy flats to fish.

It was a nice boat!  But, too cold and choppy for me to be out there zooming around at 60 mph or so.   Then again, maybe I am just getting too old.. one foot in the grave is enough for me.  I am trying to put off that dirt nap for a little while longer.

Anyway, that’s the ramp report as best as we could do it.  We did skip the Hill County park on the Brazos.  The Chisholm Trail Park I think it is called.  When we were there last, I didn’t see a ramp that you could launch a bass boat from when the water was up….  then again, maybe I missed something or maybe not.  We also did not make it out to the marina at White Bluff.  I think it is a 10 mile ride in from the gate to the marina and we just didn’t go there this morning.  We will catch you up on that as soon as we can.

And, one highway note….  the road work just below Blum did not get completed this past week.  There is about a 1/2 mile in south bound lane going out of Blum that has not been finished with the new black top.  Other than that and the painting of stripes, its a done deal.