Gayne Heads to Lake Amistad

Gayne heads to Lake Amistad on the Texas-Mexico border for his annual carp and gar spearfishing trip. Along the way, he encounters rumors of pirates, immigration checkpoints, plenty of fish, and a lot of cold beer.
Internationally envied outdoor writer – check. Proud boat owner – no. My boat has such an aura of shame and embarrassment surrounding it, I'm only willing to share a picture of the name with the good readers of Outdoor Life. My boat is that pathetic. I once tried to donate my boat to charity. The guy that came out to approve the donation offered to give me food and social assistance on the spot. Still, it has a catchy name though.
Tire drags such as this one are a sure sign that you're getting close to Lake Amistad and the international border. Here, the U.S. Border Patrol drags tires along fence lines to smooth out the caliche-rich top soil. Later, they return to look for foot tracks from those entering the country illegally through desert ranch scrub.
The area that is now Lake Amistad was once home to some of the earliest inhabitants of North America. Evidence of their existence is found in the form of flint tools, woven goods, and rock shelter paintings such as this one. The area was so rich in archeological history that the U.S. government decided to flood the region in the 1970s. I guess bass fishing wins out over history every time.
With rumors of pirates abounding, and having a very embarrassing excuse for a boat, we decided to head up one of the lake's feeder rivers, the Devils. And, no, there is not an apostrophe in Devils. The river got its name in 1840, when ranchers told Texas Ranger John Coffee Hays that the river was known locally as Saint Peter's River. Hays responded "…looks more like the Devil's river to me." Why that led to the river's name not containing an apostrophe is beyond me.
No, that's not Timothy McVeigh back from the dead. It's my friend Joel with a 27-pound carp that he speared in twenty feet of water.
My buddy Will was the next on board to make a catch when he popped this gar in a deep pool of about 30 feet of water. I wish he had lost that hat and sunglasses diving down there because I think they make him look like he's trying to be a rapper or something. Yo, yo I's the illest spearfishingest White boy on da' lake.
What does Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai have to do with spearfishing Lake Amistad? Nothing. Nothing at all.
My first kill was this massive carp. He was so big he didn't fit in my camera lens. Ok, he was really small and I was embarrassed so I took an artsy shot of his scales. I'm lame. And have a lame boat.
I did manage to get the two smaller fish on this stringer. They're pretty good sized when you consider that the one on the left weighs 27 pounds. Mine weighed in at 23 and 24 pounds, respectively. "I got a couple good ones, huh Joel?" "Yeah but you'll look fat in the photo."
Fly camp on the Devils consisted of a tarp and a cooler; both good things to have when the air temp is in the triple digits and the water temp is in the high 80s.
Feral rams, feral sheep, and aoudad, along with native game like deer, javelin, and turkeys, can be hunted around Lake Amistad during certain times of the year. Hunting is generally archery-only. Find more info here.
Back at the lodge, I spotted this beautiful tiny orange bird. I was so enamored of it that…
I threw it on the grill. Not really. These are cheese-stuffed jalapeños wrapped in bacon. I believe in eating only healthy foods while at Lake Amistad.
Later, it was time to head out for some Hookers. Hookers bar has been on the lake for many a year now, and its draft beer is always teeth-piercingly cold. Also it's fun to call your wife and announce, "I'm spending time with Hookers." Well, it was funny that one time.
The only thing more beautiful than a Lake Amistad desert sunset would be a rainbow arching over the lake. Or maybe a unicorn topped with plush Beanie Babies riding the rainbow…
Joel bit off more than he could chew when he popped this carp. That fish was mad and let Joel know it with a big 'ol slap in his hollow face! Yeah, I'm still mad Joel got a bigger carp than me.
The view from day two's fly camp was pretty nice. Except for that nasty boat in the foreground.
Day two found me taking three good-size carp in about 20 feet of water–and pledging to lose some weight before next year's trip.
Joel taking the Jimmy Houston-kissing-the-fish thing just a little too far.
Spearfishing requires strong lungs, nerves of steel, and the desire to face fish underwater, on their own terms. An A.B. Biller band gun also helps. Hey, my having 1 out of 4 ain't bad.
Leaving Lake Amistad requires a quick stop at an Immigration Check Point. It never ceases to amaze me that this stop is 30 miles north of the Mexican border. "Three of you American citizens?"
We all answer: "Yes." "Which one of you owns that ugly piece of crap boat dragging behind you?" Will and Joel point at me. I sit embarrassed, the shame heavy upon my head.
I've stayed at Laguna Diablo Resort for the past 10 years and wouldn't stay anywhere else on the lake. Visit them at Be sure to ask for the "Gayne C. Young Memorial Suite" when you make a reservation. Owner Allen Maxwell will have a good laugh at that one.