Paddle Boarding at Keller Bay Kayak Launch
We originally published this adventure at the Outbound.
Just a short drive from Houston, Austin, or San Antonio is a little shell beach that is perfect for kayaking, paddle boarding, or just hanging out.
If you’re interested in fishing, photography, birding, kayaking, paddle board, or just chilling, this spot is perfect for you. To get to the spot, you will need to take I-10 from Houston, 71 from Austin, or 239 from San Antonio. The launch point is literally at the end of county road 172 near Olivia, Texas. The best thing about this spot is only NON-motorized boats are allowed to launch. So when you pull over the little berm of trees and shrubs, you’re in relative isolation from the outside world. The water is also very shallow around the bay so only the skinniest of skiffs can get back in there.
Launching the Boat
Once you get to the launch point, you’ll want to unload you watercraft. Either a kayak or a paddle board will work great. The berm surrounding the bay blocks northerly winds pretty well so you can feel comfortable getting up on your board to spot fish or birds. There are plenty of both around! Once you get in the water, you can paddle around the bay in search of fish or wildlife. Most of the fish will be redfish which will readily eat a fly or a lure on a spinning rod. you can go back up into some back lakes by paddling out into the bay and then up into the skinny arm. You’ll be sure to see many different types of birds up there depending on the time of year.
After you have paddled around for a bit, it’s probably time for a bite to eat. I would recommend grabbing sandwiches along the way or bringing a small grill to enjoy a warm lunch on the beach. Be careful when you’re on the beach though. The shore is covered with oyster shells that can cut you pretty bad if you’re not careful. If you don’t want to head back to town, there’s an RV park close by that you can check out for camping. Or you can sleep under the stars right at the launch point! Either way, you’re sure to have a blast and the sunset are spectacular here!
Breaking in the Paddle Board
I recently purchased a paddle board from Bote Boards and I have been waiting for a chance to get out and use the board. Unfortunately, the spring time can be very windy in central Texas (I live in Austin), so I have been biding my time to get down to the coast. There are tons of places from Galveston to Padre Island that are great for paddle sports.
My office was closed on Good Friday so I took that as the perfect chance to do some exploring for a good spot. My initial plan was to take my board and my chocolate lab Sage down to Point Comfort, Texas. However, when we got there, the place was pretty wide open and the wind had come up again making it too hard to get up on the board in the chop.
So instead, we threw the board back in the truck, and I scouted a couple other spots that might be a little more protected from the wind on Google Earth. We jetted across town to the Keller Bay Kayak Launch without knowing what to expect. As soon as I came over the little gravel hill at the end of Texas 172, I knew instantly that this spot would be perfect for hopping up on the board. While still windy, a small tree covered hill blocked much of the wind.
Let’s Go Fishing!
Having already inflated the board, I quickly finished setting up the board with my fishing gear. I brought a fly rod equipped to chase redfish and maybe spotted sea trout, but the redfish were my primary target. I decided not to risk bringing my dog on the board because she gets really excited when she sees fish. Instead, I left her on the shore and she had plenty of stuff to chase around and I was never out of her sight.
As soon as I hopped up on the board, I could tell there would be fish in the area. Plenty of bait and crabs and shrimp were working in the bay. The weather was warm and the tide was rising, so I figured any redfish would be working close to the shoreline. Sure enough, I spotted a couple fish working in close and moved into position to cast. Unfortunately, the wind blew me off course and I had to re-position but the fish were gone. I got a couple clean shots at some nice sized fish, but they weren’t interested in my flies.
Around 4.30 the wind started picking up again and changed directions, so it wasn’t blocked by the trees. I paddled back to my truck and broke the board down and enjoyed a beer before packing up to head back to Austin. All and all, a great spot, despite being very primitive. If you don’t want to bring a board or kayak, there is also a beautiful little island you can wade to and set up your chairs. There are no bathrooms or picnic tables or anything, so you need to pack in everything you want to enjoy yourself. I highly recommend this spot for a Sunday Funday or a day of hooky!
The total budget for a day trip here is easily under $100 with gas and food and all equipment.