When Austin politico Lee Ann Calaway takes time off, she goes to the river. She loads up her canoe, drives to her favorite spot, Little Webberville Park, launches, and takes her time fishing and paddling the six miles downstream to Big Webberville Park. And whether on her fly rod or her spinning rig, she catches well. In fact, she’s a tournament fisherman in her off time.
During the week, Ms. Calaway is working to change the world. She serves as the Austin Director for U.S. Congressman, Lloyd Doggett; she is a Trustee for the Bastrop Historical Society; she volunteers for child advocacy campaigns; and she consistently stays active with other political and community duties and events.
But when Saturday rolls around, she's out of the house before dawn, ready to enjoy some peace on the water. And her first choice on where to go is normally the Webberville section of the Colorado.
“It’s so close to town, but it feels so remote and far away, like my own private piece of river in the middle of nowhere,” says Calaway. “There are so many honey holes for bass, and if you time it right, this can be one of the prettiest slices of the Colorado in Central Texas.”
Just about half an hour east of Austin, Webberville is a tiny community on the north bank of the Colorado. Its “Little” park, surrounded by rural homes with goats managing farmland, hosts nothing more than a kid’s slide and a boat launch. This is the place to slow down, and start your paddle toward “Big” Webberville park, which is a larger small-town park.
“When I shove off, it’s like taking a step back in time, or at least into a simpler, more peaceful world,” adds Calaway. “Then I get to spend a few hours, or more, depending on how the fish are hitting, taking in the beauty of this quiet zone.”
The Webberville float typically takes two to three hours, depending on flow and paddling speed, but you can make it last about as long as you want, and there are plenty of shaded fishing holes to hang around for a while. And under normal river flow, there are never any challenging rapids, except for a few little choppy channels. Just be sure to plan your time, and carefully monitor weather reports, as Central Texas is notorious for flash floods even in brief storms. And of course unexpected headwinds of any sort can be hell on any paddle, and Webberville is no exception.
If you’re new to either Central Texas or paddling, I recommend getting Falcon Guide’s Paddling Texas, by Shane Townsend. It is a valuable asset for anyone interested in canoeing or kayaking anywhere in the state, including the Webberville stretch.
As she hauls in another impressive bass with her fly rod, Calaway sums up the Webberville nicely, “As long as you're prepared and have planned a bit, this is one of the easiest, most rustic, and enjoyable little sections of the Colorado, at least this close to Austin.... And the fishing ain’t bad either.”