August 28, 2014: One more "Must Miss" attraction right now is the bridge rails in the river just below the Hedieona. It is due east of the big concrete block in the middle of the river. If you are traveling the river that far north run the channel to the west or Mexican side of the big chunk of concrete.
The Veleno Bridge should and can be avoided by running the west side of the creek when coming in and out of the Veleno.. There are still a few markers on the bridge. Skirt the brush to the right side going out..
August 11, 2014: We have dropped to a level of 269.69, or 31.51 feet low. And we continue to drop at a pace of about a foot every ten days.
The ramp at the county park here in Zapata is still working fine. The ramp at the state park is still fine in the center lane only. There is still about seven feet of water in the ditch to the ramp..
Use the center lane!
June 19, 2014: Falcon is sitting at 268.17, which still has concrete ramps well in the water at both ends of the lake. The old Veleno Bridge is still about four feet under the water, but you should skirt it to the west side. The old bridge abutment in the river just below the Salado is well out of the water so it should not be an issue.
If we loose another three feet or so of water we will start having trouble at the state park ramp. Currently there is a surge of water in the river at Laredo due to local rains so we'll see what happens.. But for right now we can launch easily on either end of the lake ..
May 15, 2014: Lake level 271.67. Ramps at County and State Park are fine.. Watch for markers on old Hwy 83 bridge leaving the Veleno.. Stay to the west coming and going!
April 25, 2014: Lake level 276.01.. No Sweat!
March 14, 2014: Ramps are good to go! Lake level 276.81..
January 28, 2014: Not a lot has changed in the ramp situation around here.. And we're up exactly six inches since I last talked about ramps. No problems at the state park or the county ramp. We are sitting at 275.86 as of today. That's 25.34' low..
We are still rising ever so slowly.. Read the post below for a few more details..
January 9, 2014: Well it has been a while since I updated the the Ramp info page.. And like they say.. No news is good news.. The county and state park ramps are both working fine.. Four wide at county, and three wide at the state park..
Lakefront Lodge and Beacon Lodge are the only two private parks that have ramps working. Beacon's ramp in the cove is working, and at Lakefront you will have to use a secondary ramp for the time being.
The old Veleno bridge has at least six feet of water over the rails, and the markers are still on it and sticking out of the water about a foot. I would still run around it to the right..
The old concrete bridge abutment in the river between Salado and Hedieona IS STILL a hazard so find out more about it if you plan on heading up the river..
The lake continues its slow rise and as of today, and we are sitting at 275.36, or 25.84 feet low.
November 2, 2013: Things are fine with the two main ramps here on Falcon. The state park ramp is working fine with all three lanes in operation.. Plenty of water in the canal out to the cove..
The county ramp is great with four wide launching on the concrete..
Beacon Lodge's ramp inside the cove is back in operation.. Lakefront lodge is on the edge of using the lower ramps.. Four Seasons ramp is still a bit out of the water. And their dock in still on dry ground..
You can launch at Tiger Island, but it is not on concrete..
The only real hazard in the water is the old bridge abutment in the river between Salado and Hedieona.. And you better know where that thing is if you are headed up the river.. It is about a foot under the water right now..
We are sitting a 273.39 as of this morning, and that is 27.81 feet low..
There is still an occasional floater in the lake, so be alert when running around out there..
September 27, 2013: Good News! We have come up enough to get us back on the state park ramp! Two wheel drive Volkswagens are now able to launch a boat at the state park. We have caught almost five feet of water from our recent low and this morning we are sitting at 265.26. Or 35.76 feet low.. And rising slowly. The bridge in the Veleno is back under water.. Stay to the right of the right hand buoys going out of the Veleno. That's the west side..
September 21, 2013: We have caught about two feet of water this week, and if we catch a bit more, we will be back on the concrete ramp at the state park.. We should continue to come up a little more in the coming week, and who knows, we might catch more than I think.. But launching conditions are fine here in Zapata at the county ramp. I'll keep you posted!
September 13, 2013: Not a lot has changed since I last wrote about launching conditions.. The county ramp here in Zapata is fine, albeit a bit flat. The east side is a bit better due to some silt that washed on it during the last heavy rain, but it will be cleaned off this week.
The ramp at the state park is out of the water, but launching can still easily be done if you have a four wheel drive truck.. Just follow the road past the ramp to the left and you will see were everyone is launching.
Currently we are holding pretty level, and just catching a bit of water.. We'll see what the rains that are predicted for this week will do.
Running the lake is no problem. If you don't know the lake well, it is a good idea to stay in the river channel till you get past marker seven. Be aware of the occasional stick up here and there..
The old Veleno bridge is well out of the water, and when you leave the creek go past the bridge on the right, or west side. Skirt the bridge by about five to ten yards and you will be fine.. The nearer the bridge the better. Do not go skirting the shore line as the old road bed does have a hump that starts about twenty yards off the bridge.. There is a good channel dug out right beside the bridge..
And like always you can stop by or call us for any info on conditions or the fishing.
August 10, 2013: Well as we thought, the state park ramp is out of commission these days. Launching is still possible on the channel of the gut leading to the ramp. Right at the corner of the gut it is a bit steep.. Great for unloading.. But it is a bit flatter just a ways past that, maybe twenty to thirty yards.. And that area works best for loading. Four wheel drive is a plus.. But some folks are getting it done with two wheel drive. If you've got a 4X4, then by all means bring it.. Often there is a barrel or two indicating where it is best managed.. Look for the area being used..
The county ramp is fine, albeit a bit flat.. But no problems there.. The Old Veleno bridge is a foot or so out of the water.. Stay to the west going out.. And coming in..
I don't recommend going north past the Salado, and you need to know where you are going if you do.. Not a lot of water up there..
July 29, 2013: Well after enjoying several weeks of concrete launching at the state park, we have about seen the end of it for a while.. A couple of days ago they pulled the plug again and the lake is back to dropping.. I don't see the concrete ramp there working for much longer.. You can still launch off the point.. 4X4 is nice to have..
Ramp at county park in Zapata is fine.. Old bridge is about six inches under water.. Markers are still in place.. Stay to the west going and coming..
July 14, 2013: The lake has dropped to 264.74, and that is right at the point where launching at the state park concrete ramp can get a bit "complicated." It is still being done, but by the end of this week, it may not be.. Releases have slowed , but a steady decline in elevation is still the order of the day..
The county ramp is lovely, and the top of the Veleno bridge will be visible any day now.. Markers are still in place so as long as you stay to the west going an coming you have no problems.
On the lake you will have no problems if you run the river channel.. But as always, proceed with caution if you do not know the area you are hauling ass in..
July 1, 2013: Both the county and the state park ramps are working fine right now. But it might not be too long for the State Park till it is tits up again.. We have lost a foot of water from our high about ten days ago, and we are continuing the slow fall. The debris in the lake is mostly in the trees on the Mexican side of the lake. But we had a little north wind yesterday around these storms (which did not amount to much) and I hear that some crap is floating around on the upper end of the lake..
Like always around here, keep your eyes open and skin er back..
June 17, 2013: The lake is full of floating cane and trees and you name it from the top to marker 7 as of this afternoon.. Ain't that awesome??
State park ramp is back in operation.. The Veleno bridge is back under water, but you better skirt it to the west for a few more days till it is a little deeper..
Caution is required at the present time.. Keep your eyes open out there.. Lots of stuff to dodge!
June 16, 2013: The lake is on the rise, and with the water running hard down the river, there is a lot of debris coming with it.. Be on the lookout for trees and who knows what floating out there for the next week. Especially on the the upper end of the lake. The good news is that we should be on the concrete ramp at the state park in a day or two..
We are sitting at 263.11 as of eight O'clock this morning.. That's 38.09 feet low.. We should catch a few more feet out of this event.. Let's hope so..
June 12, 2013: It has been a bit of musical water levels as of late.. But the ups and downs have not made a lot of difference in ramp conditions.. County is still fine.. State Park is still off the point, after being oh so close to useable.. It even was for a day or two.. We are at 262.27 as of this morning.. That's 38.93 feet low.. Pray for (more) rain!!
May 16, 2013: We have caught about three feet of water in the last ten days, and ramps at Zapata are working fine.. Although some silt is back on the ramp after last weekends big rains.. We have got 5" in the last week..
State Park concrete ramp is almost useable.. Almost. There is water in the ditch up to the concrete.. We need another foot.. But I am not sure if we will come up much as things sit.. Launching out on the point has been easy with 4x4, and two wheel drive when the ground is dry.. Which should be today or tomorrow..
May 11, 2013: The lake has been holding pretty steady for the last week, and not a lot has changed from the last report.. Just keep in mind that when you go out of the County ramp to stay near the old Veleno bridge on your way out.. Run out right beside it.. NOT 20 yards to the right.. The deep gut is right against the bridge on the west side..
State Park access is still from the rocky point out past the concrete ramp.. Use caution.. And last night it rained pretty good down there.. Make sure where you are driving is solid ground.. I am sure it will be fine when it dries up.. We had 1.25 inches of rain here last night.. Maybe more on the way..
April 24, 2013: Not sure how long it will last, but as of right now we are catching some water.. Should make the big county ramp work better as the water comes up. Point ramp is still fine..
State Park ramp still a ways out of the water. Maybe we'll get enough to get it back in operation.. Lots of folks launching out on the point.
Beacon river ramp is operational.. But there is only about four feet of water between ramp and marker thirteen. Go slow till you get in the channel..
April 15, 2013: The ramp at the county park is still working fine, and the first ramp out on the point is working as well. The old bridge out in the mouth of the Veleno is well out of the water.. Go around it on the right side.. West.. Pass near the bridge for the deepest water.. Keep in mind these conditions are changing every day.. Caution and attention to detail are important..
The state park ramp is now non functional.. Launching on the point out to the west is working, but caution should be used, as things are changing day to day. Four wheel drive is a good idea if you have the option..
The Ramp out on the point at Beacon has to be on the edge of usability.. Call there before planning on launching there to make sure.. But it can't work long..
April 7, 2013: With the lake dropping like a rock, a couple of things are happening.. The ramp at the state park is just about unusable.. It may work today and tomorrow.. But it can't last long.. If that long. Be prepared to launch on the rocky point to the west.. Four wheel drive is a good thing, but probably not a must..
The old Veleno bridge continues to wreak havoc on boats.. The tops of the rails are just under the water!
It should be wholly visible in a day or two.. No response from the county or the IWBC.. It is ridiculous..
But be warned.. This will mess up your day!
April 4, 2013: Yikes! The bridge in the Veleno is back to breaking lower units.. Stay to the right going out of the Veleno! Ask about it.. Lake dropiping rapidly.. Rails will be out of the water in a day or two!!
Will post coords ASAP!
March 28, 2013: It's that time again.. Time to talk about dropping water levels.. And as nice as it has been having a four lane wide ramp at the county, we're back to two on the east side.. That's left looking down the ramp.. But it will work there for a long time..
The state park ramp is best in the middle, and probably only the middle about now.. But it is still fine for now..
The ramp at Beacon Lodge on the point is fine, but can be tough on windy days.. Not a lot of protection out there.
The Old Bridge in the Veleno still has about three feet of water on it, but not for long.. It is time to stay to the west or right side going out of the Veleno.. Skirt the brush and you will be fine.. Ask if you do not know about it.. It still has one marker on it on the east end..
March 5, 2013: The lake has dropped a bit in the last week, and we are dropping slowly as I write.. Ramps at the county park are fine, and launching four wide is no problem right now. Hope it holds up for Bass Champs this weekend.. State Park ramps still working fine as well.
The big concrete bridge piling in the river right below Hedieona is right at water level.. It has a orange float on it currently.. Stay to the Mexican side of it as you go by about twenty yards and you'll be fine.
The bridge in the Veleno is under enough water to run over at this point, but it is a good habit to get into to stay to the west side going out.. Then we won't have to worry about it..
February 19, 2013: Ramps are not a problem at this time. Nor is the bridge in the Veleno. There is enough water over it to take it out of the danger zone.. There is however a hazard in the river below the Hedieona.. A Big One.. The concrete bridge pillar in the middle of the river is just under the water, and it is bad news for your boat and lower unit.. General area of 52.71N and 19.59W
If you are headed up that way ask for coordinates. Sorry I don't have em exact right in front of me..
January 25, 2013: The lake level has fluctuated a bit in the last few weeks, but has not gone down or up a whole lot. We are currently sitting at about 267.72, or 33.48 feet low.
The bridge in the Veleno is still the biggest bad thing out there.. And while you may be able to go over it at current levels on plane, I highly DO NOT recommend trying it.. Stay to the west side coming and going..
There are still the two floats on the east end of the bridge.. But no others..
County and state park ramps are working fine with two wheel drive vehicles, and are both good concrete ramps of course.. Use the center ramp at the state park. If we pick up a bit more water then the two on the sides will be working as well.. But for now I would still recommend the middle.
Beacon Lodge ramp on the river is still working fine.. No other motel or RV park ramps are working..
December 20, 2012: With current water levels at 266.31, not much has changed when it comes to the ramp conditions. Old Veleno bridge is at a dangerous depth so stay to the right when going out of the Veleno.. No markers have been reinstalled on the west end!!
If you run up the river be advised that there is very little water in the main river channel past Hedieona.. Pay Attention! You can still get into the Salado, but you need to run the channel..
State Park and county ramps still working fine.. Use the middle ramp at the state park..
November 16, 2012: Not a lot has changed.. Water level at 266.51. State park and county ramps working fine.. Beacon ramp on point working as well, but tough when the wind is blowing.. (When ain't it?)
Markers on Old Veleno Bridge are floating off.. Stay to west side going out of Veleno! There are still two markers on the east side..
October 24, 2012: The lake is currently sitting at 266.60, or 34.6 feet low. And at this level the county and state park ramps are working fine. Two lanes at the county, and one at the state park.. Use the center ramp at the state park. Beacon Lodge still has operational ramps on the north end of the lake, but that is about all the ramps that are working.
The Bridge in the Veleno is still about 10" under the water, and several of the big markers on the west end of it have come off.. Stay to the west side of the creek going out, about twenty five yards off the brush line and you will be fine.. That's the right side going out..
October 1, 2012: As of this morning the concrete ramp at the state park is back in operation. There is about three feet of water on the end of the ramp. Take it easy going out the cut. The lake is rising and will for the next few days, so it should only get better.. The bridge in the Veleno is back under water, but the markers are still in place.. Staying to the west is the best..
September 19, 2012: We have been catching one to two inches of water a day, and if it continues for a few more, it will not be long till the concrete ramp at the state park is back in operation. But for the short term, launching down south is still off the point.. And that means crappy.. But it might not be long..
County ramp is fine and you can launch two boats at a time just fine.. The left side looking down the ramp is the best side. Thanks to the county for cleaning it off yesterday..
September 7, 2012: The ramps at the State Park are in a word, crappy. Whether you launch on the makeshift steel ramp, or out on the end of the rocky point.. Four Wheel drive is very near a total necessity. You might launch a metal boat with a 2x4.. But it is getting dicey..
You can launch out on the end of the point by backing way, that's WAY out in the water.. Pretty much sucks.. But quite a few people are still doing it..
At the county ramp here in Zapata, there are no problems.. Unless you get behind a Border Patrol boat that takes ten minutes to launch.. The ramp out on the westernmost point is perfect.. And it appears that I am the only one using it.. Beacon Lodge has a ramp that is operational, as long as the water drops not much more.. But currently we are on a very slow rise..
August 7, 2012: As the water continues to drop, we are loosing and adding launching options. The state park concrete ramp in no longer useable, but a steel landing mat ramp has been added on the point to the west of the concrete ramp. I hear that some two wheel drive vehicles are having problems with it, and 4X4 is a good idea if you have it.
The county ramp in Zapata is still working fine, but it is a little flat.
The first of two ramps on the point to the west is now useable, and it is a fine single lane ramp, with proper slope. You have to drive out to the point to use it.. A little rough road to go over, but certainly passable. And there is a lot of parking area down there as well. Here's what it looks like. I threw all the big rocks off of it yesterday.
The ramp on the point over at Beacon is still working, and they have one more when the water gets a little lower.
There is also one more ramp here at the county when we get a bit lower.. So we will be able to launch when we are well into the fifty foot low level. Let's hope we don't have to use these ramps too long.. Pray for rain!
July 2, 2012: There have been a lot of hazards popping up lately, but none worse than the old Veleno Bridge that is currently about 15" below the waters surface. This bridge is near the mouth of the Veleno on the old Hwy 83. Be sure you know where you are going on your way out of the county ramp on the way out to the lake. Here are some coordinates for the east end of the bridge. N26° 50,975 W99° 15,949. You can pass to the east of this spot and be all right. You can also go by on the west end. I have some orange flagging material in the trees near the end of the bridge.. Skirt the trees in this area and you can pass the bridge safely. Stop by the store and we'll show you where to look for it.
The County Ramp will work for a good while yet. Although it is now down to two lanes. Beacon Lodge still has an operational ramp, out on the point. The State Park has one lane working on the concrete ramp. It is the one in the middle. Currently there is about four feet of water in the channel at the SP ramp.
February 8, 2012: Ramps in Zapata are few, but the county ramp will be working for a long time. We can launch there till water levels get to 50' low.. Which I hope I never see.. The state park ramp is also fine on the south end of the lake. And will be for another fifteen feet of water at least.
Local motels and private ramps are few.. Lakefront's lower ramps are working, but have minimal parking. Beacon still has a good ramp as well..
October 24, 2011: I have not had to update this page in a long while.. But it is time with the dropping water levels here on Falcon.
The county ramp and the state park ramps are fine, and will be for a long time. But several other ramps are inoperable..
The Lakefront Lodge ramp is not useable, although there are a couple of small ramps they have that do work.. Both are a bit hard to get to and parking is very limited..
Four Seasons main ramp is out of the water as well, but they also have a secondary ramp.. Not a lot of parking there as well.
Beacon Lodge is still a fine place to launch and they still have a four laner that is working..
The ramp at the old Redwood is nearing the end of usability, but I did see a trailer or two there lately..
Oso Blanco's main ramp is out of the water, but they also have a secondary ramp on the point.. Limited parking out there as well, but plenty if you don't mind walking a bit..
The ramp at the Tigers is out of the water.. And although some locals are putting in on a point it is tough sledding down there.. We'll see if they get something else going soon..
I'll update as is required..
June 20, 2008: The Ramps at The County and State Park are still working fine. But there is one hazard to tell you about.. The old bridge pilings UP THE RIVER before you get to the Hediona, past the mouth to the Salado, are just under the waters surface about a foot or so. If you are not familiar with this area then avoid it like the plague.. There are some concrete chunks piled up on the Mexican side of the river.. This pile of debris is in line with the old road.. You can safely pass the area near the bank on either side.. I recommend idling through the area if you do not have these marked on your GPS. They are in the general area of 52.71N and 19.59W..
The Veleno bridge does not come in to the hazard zone till about 268.23.. We are currently at 272.99.
May 9, 2008: A lot of local RV parks and Hotels ramps are not currently useable.
In Zapata the county ramp is still fine, The ramp at Beacon is fine, and the point ramp at Lakefront lodge is great. The State Park ramp will work for a long time yet, as will the County Ramp. There is a trash can holder near the county ramp dock, and I am not quite sure where it is right now.. But if you stay on the end of the dock with your boat you should be OK.. We will work on getting it identified and located..
January 8, 2008: All public ramps on the lake are functioning well at this time.. The water level is currently at about 15 feet low, and falling at about 3 inches a day. We may have to update this page a little more frequently if releases continue at this pace.. Pray for rain.
October 30, 2007: The lake level as of today is sitting at 289.46, or 11.56 feet low. The water level has remained within a couple of inches of the current for the past few weeks. It is great to see all the new water in the lake. I am sure our returning Snow-Bird friends will be amazed at the the difference when they return, and many are right now.. No problems at any of the major ramps currently. Have fun!
September 25, 2007: Most all lake ramps are functioning at this time, as our lake level has risen to 289.38, or 11.64 feet low. I am sure there are a few private ramps at the top of the lake that may be on the edge. The water has certainly slowed or nearly halted it's climb towards full, but we'll take it and be glad for what we've got. So the only problem we should have on the ramps in the very near future is the folks that flunked Trailer Backing 101 and Remedial Boat Preparedness! Check your batteries at home! And the boat ramp IS NOT the place to make a sandwich..(I've seen it..) See you on the water!
August 28 2007: The lake level today is 284.12 or 16.9 feet low. The County and State Park Ramps are open and working fine. The County ramp has been expanded to 4 or 5 lanes, depending on who's backing the trailer in, and all are well into the water at this level. The main ramp at Lakefront Lodge is back into the water and is handling full sized bass boats fine at this point. The North ramp at Beacon is also well into the water and a new lane was being added while I was there last weekend. There are still a few places in town using secondary ramps, but most of the upper ramps are in service. Hopefully we will put some water on all of them soon!
May 17, 2007:The lake level as of today is 267.22 ft or about 2ft above the lowest level 5/9 of 265.33. The increase has been as a result of meaningful rainfall in th water shed area. The Old Veleno Bridge hazard which was an underwater hazard AT 266 FT SHOULD BE PASSABLE FOR MOST Boats at this level.the railing height is at 264.23 ft which is about 3 ft below the current lake level. The bridge can be located a few boat lengths south of the Siesta Shores water pump. Launching is still working at the Zapata County Boat Ramp and at the State Park Boat Ramps Beacon Lodge's low level Boat Ramp is operational into the Rio Grande.
January 21, 2007: As of the 19th the Falcon Lake level is 277.08 ft or 24.12 low. Launching is working well at the State Park Ramp and the County Ramp is still working although the incline is such that boats have to back out a long way into the water to float the boats off the trailer on some rigs. I took the following picture this weekend showing the launching status at the County Boat Ramp.
April 10, 2005 - Hazard Alert: One of the fisherman prefishing for the B.A.S.S. Federation tournament yesterday narrowly avoided damaging his 2004 Skeeter on a floating waterline in Goose Bay. We reported the presence of these left over unused waterlines to International Bondary and Water Commission in 2003 when the rising lake level started floating these lines off the ground and into the water. A new Champion found one of these lines in 2003 (see Nov 27, 2003 report below) and inflicted some considerable damage. The IBWC contacted the Oil Company responsible for abandoning these lines and they were suppose to be removed. Apparently not all of them were found and removed. This particular line is just inside the main point going into Goose Bay and it is covered with a yellow/green algae. Be alert to the presence of birds that may be setting on the line, which may help identify it. Let us know anytime you see something foreign in the water and if you think about it, get a GPS reading on the location. Launching is working fine right now at most area ramps, but if the lake continues to drop, we will try to keep the information updated as things change.
May 2, 2004 - Ramp Status and Hazard Alert: Launching at Falcon is good at this level and has not changed much since April, Rising water (4 ft plus in April currently at 285.37 ft elevation) has covered up some of the trash cans that are attached to pipe frames in the Zapata County Park and they can be hazardous to boats pulling in next to the ramp. The Tigers ramp is being made available to the public again and water is about to make it up on their concrete ramp. The $3 per person charge is a cheap price to pay if the blow is on, as it usually is this time of year. Picture on right of Zapata County Ramp trash can about to be covered up by rising water. Most of the lakefront motels and RV parks that have ramps are launching at this level.
April 9, 2004 - Ramp Status and Hazard Alert: Launching at Falcon is not a problem at this level. The State Park and Zapata County Ramps are both working, as are most of the Lodge and RV Park ramps. We noticed water has reached the Redwood Lodge launch ramp and the owner, Joe Espinoza, says it is deep enough to launch boats. The ramp at El Tigre Island is closed to the public. Last report was that the San Ignacio Ramp is working only for small boats. It is recommended you check before planning a trip to San Ignacio, call Joel Ruiz 956-765-5182. Launching below the dam on the Rio Grande River is possible at the Salieno and Chapeno access points. Beacon Lodge located on the Rio Grande has excellent ramp and boat dock facilities that are being maintained and relocated as the lake rises. They aso have a pier that can be used to tie up boats when launching or loading from their ramp. Call Roy Graham at 956-765-4616 for information. There is a lot of floating cane and some logs coming down the river with the high water. Caution needs to be exercised when running the lake or the river.
November 27, 2003 - Ramp Status & Hazard Alert: Last week a local 2003 Champion boat and its unlucky owner found one of several abandonded water lines in the Bell Camp Marker 7 area and his OMC Ficht suffered a broken motor mount and a bent tilt/trim ram as a result. Fortunately we were able to get the repair parts from Atlanta overnighted and our new mechanic will install them Friday. These floating lines filled with water are about as heavy as a tree limb and I can verify that as a fact. There also are some abandonded lines located in the Big and Little Tigers based on information received recently. They need to be removed by the international Water and Boundary Commission or the Corps of Engineers to avoid future incidents.. One time a number of years ago, when I was fishing with the late Tommy Gray out of his Nitro, I was catapulted from the my seat to the front of the boat. Grabbing the trolling motor as I sailed past saved me from taking a bath (or worse) in this encounter.
At this level (278.40 ft 11-26-03), main ramps at the State Park and the Zapata County area are working as are many of the lakefront ramps at the motels in Zapata. It will take a few more feet of water to get all the ramps operational. We are back at 1994 levels now and the spawn of last year has produced a good 2003 class of baby footballs.
November 4, 2003 - Ramp Status: At this level (277.39 ft), many, if not most of the lakefront RV parks and lodge' have ramps that are operational and both the Zapata County and State Park ramps are working without the need to access the ramps/parking areas via caliche roads. The bridges that presented hazardous conditions at lower levels are covered and do not present any danger unless you are dragging something deep. You should pay close attention to floating objects for a few more weeks until they make their way to the shoreline and, as always, watch your depthfinder, or better yet, run by trolling motor when in close to shore. There will always be rock houses, rock piles, posts etc that have just been covered up and are at the right depth to grab a prop or lower unit. The good news is that they will be easier to mark on your GPS.
November 14, 2002- Hazard Alert lake level 268.01The lake has leveled off at 268.01 ft and has remained at that level for three consecutive days. At this level, there is about four feet of water over the center portion of the Old Veleno Bridge and about 21' to 25' of water in the North and South cuts. By trimming your motor up, you should be able to pass through without any problem. I would still recommend reduced speed and a conservative approach and departure around this hazard.
There are some old concrete pillars left over from destruction of the bridge to Mexico from old Zapata. There are several showing and some that are submerged north up the river from Beacon Lodge Waypoint 26.35.07N 99.09.230W.
November 3, 2002- Launching Addendun - Lake Level 267'- Launching at the Zapata County Main Ramp and also the State Park Main Ramp is fine. So is launching at the Beacon Lodge Ramp. The pictures taken during the SABC loading and observations during that process revealed a couple of points that may be helpful. First, there is no need to back all the way down the center section to drop your boat into the water. The center section is the only one in the water at present. If you have a small vehicle and trailer of 18ft or so, you will be able to turn around at the bottom of the ramp inside the curbs so just go down the ramp head first and stay to one side. The larger vehicles (like crew cab duallys) pulling 20 to 22 ft trailers will do better to go down the outside ramp head first and go over the curb to make the turn around into the center ramp section. The curbs are not that high so as to pose drag problems for most vehicles. However, if you are using a beemer or a Mercedes as a tow vehicle, or if you want to show how macho you can be backing a quarter mile down this monument-to-men's-ignorance of a ramp, without looking back except in your rear view mirror, go ahead and make the turn around at the top and do your thing.
No handicapped parking areas are available so if you are disabled or physically challenged, bring another vehicle with someone possessing strong legs to ferry you from where you have to park your rig to your boat unless they are going out with you and you trust them to drive your vehicle. Even though the TPW bi-annual surveys since the early nineties have reported no handicapped facilities, we have not yet been able to convince anyone in the Park system that all of our winter Texans are not marathon contenders. Hopefully, that is about to change now that a Falcon Lake Task Force has been appointed with Laredo's Donato Ramos, a TPW Commissioner, serving as Chairman.
October 27, 2002- Launching Addendun - Lake Level 265'
- Both the State Park concrete ramp and the Zapata County Main Ramp are now working thanks to 4.05 ft of additional water received since the 14th. There is no problem now launching, loading or parking on improved surfaces in either area. However, because of the incomplete work of Zapata County Commissioners' Court's contractor, and the fact that no buoys have been installed to mark the location of the North and South cuts and since the Old Veleno Bridge is now underwater completely, our best advice is to approach the area with caution, trim up your motor and paddle or use your TM to pass through this hazard. If you pass to far away from the edge of the bridge on the North cut there are pieces of rebar protruding and rocks that can damage your lower units as one hapless boater discovered not too long ago (see picture above right missing lower unit).
The contractor also left a big pile of rocks on the new South Cut bank, so that also constitutes a hazard if you pass through too far away from the edge of the bridge. Best bet is to find the end of the Bridge and pass through the cut as close to the end of the Bridge as possible. About three weeks ago a meeting i scheduled with the Judge to discuss this issue was cancelled and I had to leave the information with his assistant. When they (the Commissioners and County Judge) were advised of this hazardous condition in the October 15 Commissioners' Court meeting, the response was "that's the IWBC's responsibility".
So I drafted a letter to the IWBC from the Judge. It has now been sent.
LETTER TO IWBC from Larry Bridgeman and the County Judge
November 1, 2002 (sent)
We have had multiple
boats destroyed when they strike objects like the trestle Bridge in the Big Tiger,
the Old Veleno Bridge and the piers that still exist, which formerly supported
the Bridge over the River to Mexico. The cuts by the Old Veleno Bridge need to
be buoyed and warning signage needs to be added.
That is not going to happen unless Mexico comes in with some serious water or we catch a couple hurricanes. If we cannot get Mexico to repay the excess water debt, we need to pursue alternative water sources or balance the drawdowns between Falcon and Amistad. Action on that option is in progress but we need your agencies involvement in removing hazards, marking hazards and/or installation of signs to warn of all hazardous conditions known to exist in the lake. The inherent danger of navigating Falcon during low water conditions has been another factor in the decline of usage by bass tournaments. These old structures provide excellent habitat for some species, but unless we can hold the lake above 257 ft, they need to be removed.
The following excerpts from a letter sent to me by Frank Goll of the Texas Association of Bass Clubs states the case better than I ever could: "The METRO City Championship, held the first week-end in October each year, has been held at Lake Amistad the past few years due to the lack of adequate boat launch facilities and a suitable place to hold awards dinner at Lake Falcon. We expect approximately 250-300 contestants this year and of course the city of Del Rio welcomes us. Mr. Bridgeman and Mr. Murray have asked that we consider Lake Falcon for this event, and I know the anglers would prefer to go to Falcon, but due to safety concerns and the lack of a meeting place, I have to recommend that we return to Lake Amistad.
The Texas Association of Bass Clubs State Championship Tournament is scheduled for Canyon Lake on September 7th and 8th this year despite the protest of South Texas Anglers. This tournament would have been held at Falcon Lake if the current problems had been addressed last year. Next year, if some of the problems have been corrected I would expect our State Championship Tournament to be held at Falcon. I feel that the merchants in Del Rio realize that any major tournament bringing 200-300-400 contestants to the city for 3-4 days has a major economic impact. In addition to the tournament dates many contestants will pre-fish the lake two or three times before the tournament, which in effect doubles or triples the economic impact for area merchants. An example of this, is the San Antonio Bass Club which I am a member, has scheduled tournaments for Lake Amistad on June 8/9, August 10/11 and September 21/22, 2002 as pre-fish dates for METRO Tournament of October 5/6, 2002."
I want to thank you for your earlier help in extending the permit, which allowed us to deepen and widen the North cut and construct the new South cut. We went as deep as we could with the track hoe equipment we had available locally. Perhaps at a later date we may deepen the cut using a dragline or dredge if we are able to bring one in to open up access channels from the Rio Grande back into the Veleno. We also want to thank you for your assistance and use of equipment to place the movable pier in service and grade the roads to the launching area at the State Park. This has been of real service to improve the launching at the State Park.
We urgently need your help and support and that of other involved IWBC management in addressing the hazardous conditions outlined above. Please forward this information to any additional IWBC staff you feel need to be involved and do not hesitate to call me if I can answer any questions.
Zapata County Judge
CC:Larry E. Bridgeman
Launching Update October 14 - Lake Level 260.95' The lake level has remained constant since this morning's reading of 260.95' so it appears the rise is over and it totaled 5.01 feet. Best bet for launching now is in Zapata at the Zapata County Ramp. Beacon Lodge also has launching available.
The main State Park Ramp is a foot or two short of working based on John Burnham's inspection today. The previous point area, where they were launching, has been inundated with water and is unusable at this level. They may be able to set up launching down the road past the Rec. Hall in the camping area, but I have not heard anything about where they are going to try and set up for sure.
John Burnham came by today and said the Friday night meeting was going to be held at the State Park Rec. Hall rather than at Salineno so you would be well advised to check for sure before you go to Salineno. We have had no communication from the Park about entries or any other matter so I would refer you to the State Park offices at 956-848-5327 for answers to your questions. The old Veleno Bridge has water up to the road bed and use caution and pass through as close to the Bridge as possible. Passing too far to the right will result in lower unit damage as one boater found out a few days ago.
Launching Update 9/24/02
Lake Level 256.28
Launching and loading are working fine on the left hand side (facing the lake) of the pier and boats were seen unloading off the right hand side also. The right hand side seems to have a little more of a drop off, but it seems to be working fairly well also. Thanks go out to Rudy Mesa who was recently named Park Manager for getting this work completed in time for the weekend Honey Hole Tournament. I was probably a little tough on the guys at the Park and for that I apologize. I understand that they had just made arrangements to borrow the equipment from IWBC for placement of the pier when the storm hit. I hope they will continue moving it as the lake level changes so it remains in operation. It is a big help, especially to solo boaters.
Launching Addendum - September 14, 2002 Lake Level 251.61(9/13) With a gain of 2.43 ft in lake elevation, we are again launching in Zapata. This should give us a window of a week or so unless we catch some more rain. Figure on launching at the State Park if the lake drops to 250.50 unless you have a small boat. If you have guts and a small boat you can make it to 249.50. You really can launch after that , but you cannot get out into the Rio Grande from the Veleno
Addendum - September 7, 2002 Lake Level 249.48 (9/6)
"I launched at the county ramp Saturday afternoon. Water was only a couple inches deep over the end of the concrete. Have to be careful and stay to the west side of the ramp or you'll drop off in a wash out. Water only 2 1/2 feet deep between the County and Siesta Shores ramps. Depth is maybe 4 feet under old 83 bridge. Using trolling motor about 400 yards before reaching the mouth of Veleno, depth progressively came up from 3 1/2 to less than a foot 200 yards before reaching the mouth by Paradise Point. A little farther out toward the river long legged birds were standing ankle deep. Holding my trolling motor up just off the silt, I turned around as my hull just began touching mud at the stern. Thought about going to the State Park and launch, but weather was looking uncertain with thunderstorms around and wind hard out of the North."
Lake Level 254.54 (7/26/02)
One of the anglers fishing the club tournament had a nearly new rig that he backed into a drop-off and hung up his trailer. He nearly had to disconnect to get the trailer extricated so he could load. Unfortunately, there was some damage to the trailer. This is not a good level for launching at the Park and you have to find just the right place and angle to have a good loading experience. Unfortunately optimum loading and unloading requires use of different locations. There are a series of steel poles that mark the outside (north edge) of the usable area. If you get too close to these, there is a big drop off. Too far the other way and you may get stuck like the hapless boater on the 27th (see Picture top). Best bet right now is a 4x4 insurance policy and best location appears to be about 1/3 of the way between the steel markers and the point with the trailer angled slightly north. Most of the above mentioned point is covered with water so unless you know where it is, you are ill-prepared to figure out where 1/3 is located.
At the risk of sounding negative, I have a hard time accepting the lack of attention to Falcon by the TPW. Why it continues year-after-year that TPW refuses to construct good access roads, all-level concrete ramps, or position the floating pier that can help mark the recommended location for boats loading and unloading and that Falcon always remains about 6 feet short of the hog's hind tit, I can only conclude to be a lackadaisical attitude permeated with bureaucratic self-serving ineptitude. The road from the end of the asphalt to the launching area is so rough and wash-boarded that you really need to pull all your electronics before entering unless you want to subject them to a TPW designed stress test. The simple task of placing the removable pier in the water takes only a fork lift or a front loader a short time, but it is much easier and cheaper for the loader to remain unused and, therefore, employees do not have to leave the security of their offices or sheds. This philosophy and lack of action stinks and since there is no Viagra formulation I know of that will treat cognitive impotence, I believe there is a serious need for an attitude adjustment of those involved at all levels using old fashion a_ _ kicking methodology.
July 19 - Launching Addendum-Lake Level 254.33 The lake has been rising rapidly and launching at most of the low water areas is working fine. The Zapata County Point Ramp is working as is the adjacent short ramp. Thanks to the 30 ft extension approved by County Judge Morales, the main ramp is very close to being operational and may be usable by the time this is posted. Judge Morales also authorized modifications to the cut on the north side of the Old Veleno Bridge, which will serve outgoing traffic and he also approved work on the new south cut, which will serve incoming Veleno traffic (See above right).
A word of caution is in order about approaching the Zapata County Point ramp. As shown in the lower LH picture, the two concrete blocks on the south side of the ramp have not been removed and they are just about to be covered by water. They could damage your boat if you hit them. Approach very slowly or better yet, approach from the north side.
Commissioner (Pope) Gonzalez was instrumental in getting the road to the point ramp that had been badly washed out by the recent rains graded so, as of today, there is good access to the ramp. If you have the time to drop either of these fellows a note, or if you see them on the street, please be sure to thank them for their effort and support in behalf of the boating and fishing folks.
Launching July 8 - Lake Level 249.38 - Launching is pretty much confined to the State Park shoreline at the present time. There may be a window where small boats can launch and make it out of the Veleno this week as the water peaks from a combination of recent rains and Amistad releases. However, it is best not to count on this as your primary option unless you enjoy the process of extricating high-centered boats while waist deep in mud.
Launching June 10 - Lake Level 250.59 - Launching/loading is working fine at the State Park based on our observation at the Wildcat Bass Club Tournament on Saturday. There is quite a variation in drop and angle so depending on how you line up you may need to back in further or move over a little if your trailer needs to be level to load properly. As shown in the picture, some boats were able to load without putting the wheels in the water.
Launching in Zapata at the County Point Ramp has about played out again. You can still launch, but some boats have dropped off the end and getting out of the Veleno where it has silted-in is only possible for the shallow-draft boats. For most boats, a lake elevation above 251' is needed for a successful endeavor.
Launching Addendum May 11 - Launching was working fine off the rocks in any of the areas marked. However, loading was a problem if you were too far east on the point. Stay to the west side of the marked area for best results at this level (i.e., RH side of designated area when facing the lake). If you are in the proper location, as shown in the "Preferred"picture, your wheels will barely be in the water. If you are not, you will be well submerged before you are able to load.
Highway 83 Bridge Cut- May 09
The Zapata County
crews are working to enlarge the cut and remove the chunks of concrete and rebar
at the north end of the old Highway 83 Bridge.
completion of this work, a cut on the
Launching Addendum - April 22 251.20 Ft Elevation (50 Ft low) The Zapata County Point Ramp is starting to drop boat trailers off the end so, if you are using anything other than a small boat, you should exercise extreme caution. Sand and gravel bars are rising in various parts of the lake so do not run full speed across any unfamiliar areas unless you enjoy the process of extricating your boat from one of these sub-surface gravel bars.
The good thing about this level is that most of the hazards like the Tigers Bridge and old rock houses are coming into view and it is a great time to get out and see some features you might have forgotten or not seen before. Also, we can look forward to some new artifacts being uncovered and it is a great time to start working the shoreline. The bad news is that new hazards are revealing themselves daily.
Michael Evans reports the IWBC is in the process of jumping in and re-channeling the big ramp access at the State Park. They have also approved extension of the Zapata County Permit to rework the Old Highway 83 Bridge. This will provide an access channel at the north and south end of the Bridge 30' wide x 15' deep and at the same time remove the hazards of concrete slabs and rebar on the north end of the bridge. In addition, Michael Evans will be lending a helping hand to Calvin Snyder in keeping the launching working at the State Park as the lake continues to drop. We appreciate their help in making the best out of a bad situation.
Addendum: 04/12/02 Lake
Launching Addendum: 03/15/02 Lake Level: 255.17
The lake level has dropped enough that recommended launching at the State Park has shifted toward the point instead of to the right of the pier. According to Calvin Snyder, the launch is working fine on the left side of the pier. A check with the Park Office before you launch is advisable. Since there is no concrete ramp available, a 4 x 4 is recommended, but usually not required.
is working fine in Zapata at the Zapata County Point Ramp, but caution is recommended
when exiting or entering the Veleno in the Old Bridge area. There are some trees
on the RH side going out, after you pass the bridge cut (cut currently has about
3 to 4 ft water depth), so find the deepest water to the left of the cut and stay
in it until you get into the river channel.
Launching is also possible in Zapata at Beacon Lodge (small fee for non-customers).
Siesta Shores has a private launching ramp that can be utilized by non-residents
for a $25 annual fee. It is behind a locked gate and it is functional at a depth
of about a foot lower than the County Point ramp.
Launching Information 12/9/01
Lake Level: 259.85
Launching Addendum: December
9, 2001 Lake Level: 259.85
Addendum: October 27, 2001 Lake Level:
Launching Addendum: October 22,
2001 Lake Level: 259.40
Launching Addendum: October 12, 2001 Lake
Level: 259.99 (41.39 Ft Low)
Beacon Lodge and The Tigers ramps are both working according to reports and there is a small charge for using these facilities if you are not a paying guest. When loading at any of the shoreline launching areas, a 4 X 4 or a buddy with another vehicle and a chain is a good precaution although not usually needed at this level.
Even with the additional water, there are some trees and obstructions that can cause problems so take it slow if you are out of the main channel. Even the main channel will occasionally contain a tree or floating debris so caution is a good idea anywhere on the lake.
Addendum: October 3, 2001 Lake Level: 259.99
Addendum: September 16, 2001 Lake Level 254.69
Jump to Hazards
County Facility - Point Ramp
Shores boat ramp is restricted to use of Siesta Shore property owners.CLOSED
Falcon Lake State Park - Launching is off the shoreline, and when heavily used or during wet weather, the access becomes slick and a four-wheel drive is recommended. The launching at State Park is still OK but preference should be for a 4 wheel drive if available. Calvin Snyder says 2 wheel drive is still working but 4 wheel is better. A pier has been constructed to help in boarding but there is no useable concrete ramp. Also, during rapidly changing levels, the pier is not consistently in place.
San Ygnacio River Ramp - Launching is now available at the river ramp in San Ignacio. The concrete ramp is located just North of the San Ignacio Trailer Park down a caliche road which is best negotiated at a slow rate of speed. Coming from Zapata, you go through San Ignacio and turn west on the first road after you pass the San Ignacio Trailer Park and follow the road down to the river. It is a concrete ramp, and according to Joel Ruiz, owner, there is two to three feet of water in the river. To get to the ramp, you have to go through a gate which is usually open, but you might want to check at the trailer park office to make sure. Telephone Number for the office at the Park is 956-765-5182.
IMPORTANT NOTE Those using the State Park facility should be aware that at this level, some difficulty is being experienced in proper loading. On many of the bass boats observed loading during a recent tournament, it appeared that if you try to load slowly, the nose of the boat is so low that it tends to go underneath the trailer attachment arm. Forget trying to winch it up, that's a lost cause. The best approach appears to be to approach the trailer and just as you start on, give the motor enough throttle to raise the nose up and then back off just as the boat reaches the front. This may come to be known as "finesse Loading" and is not recommended for those with slow reflexes or a nervous condition. Not all boats and trailers are the same, so eyeball the situation when unloading and make up your own mind as to how to approach this process before loading.
November 20, 2003-Last week a local 2003 Champion boat and its unlucky owner found one of several abandonded water lines in the Bell Camp Marker 7 area and his OMC Ficht suffered a broken motor mount and a bent tilt/trim ram as a result. Fortunately we were able to get the repair parts from Atlanta overnighted and our mechanic will install them Friday. These floating lines filled with water are about as heavy and hard as a tree limb and I can verify that as a fact. There also some abandoned lines located in the Big and Little Tiger. They need to be removed by the International Water and Boundary Commission and/or the Corps of Engineers.
One time a number of years ago, when I was fishing with the late Tommy Gray out of his Nitro, I was catapulted from the my seat to the front of the boat. Grabbing the trolling motor as I sailed past saved me from taking a bath (or worse) in this encounter. You can easily get over them by trimming up your motor and drifting across. You can easily get over them by trimming up your motor and drifting across. It is not a good idea to run/or cross any of the coves at 50-60 mph. These lines when filled with water float just at or below the surface and are not visible from a distance.It is not a good idea to run/or cross any of the coves at 50-60 mph. There are several of these floaters in the area coves so keep your eyes peeled.
July 8, 2002 (Lake Level 249.23) While out on the lake this weekend, another hazard (Two Concrete Posts) was pointed out that is on the Mexico side between Marker 1 and the dam. I may have seen these before, but if so I do not remember them. There are several concrete posts (9 to12 inches in Diameter) sticking out of the water. The first is about a third of the way between the marker and the dam and sticks up about three or four foot. The second is also in Mexico, but closer to the US boundary and it is about 1 1/2 foot out of the water and has a small bottle float. Either one of these is a lower unit killer and maybe even a boat sticker if is hit at the right level and the wrong angle. Caution, these may not be the only two posts. I failed to get a picture, but if someone can get a picture and a waypoint, I will add them to this alert. I would say that any level below 256.50 brings the first post into play as a major hazard and the second post probably 254 or lower. You can avoid this hazard If you cross from the US to Mexico between marker one and two or stay close to the dam until well in Mexico.
March 15, 2002 The Big Tiger Hazard, affectionately known as "Burnham's Crossing", has claimed another victim. Unlike last year's incidents which totaled John Burnham's year-old Skeeter and severly damaged several other boats, yesterday's contact resulted in a broken skag. The lake level yesterday was 255.58. The location of this underwater hazard is about half-way between the old Highway 83 road bed (watch for power poles marking location) and Juan Vela's El Tigre Camp launching area GPS Bridge Position: N26degrees 52.124' W 99 degrees 15.276'. Also there are several area sand bars out front, in and just before the entrance to the Tigers where a boat can become grounded. Keep this in mind and be sure you are familiar with any area before running it wide open. These areas will be coming into play very soon. The pictures of the Bridge and elevations representing hazardous operating levels are fully outlined below.
March 1, 2001 At the present lake level, it is prudent to run at speeds consistent with your knowledge of the lake. If it is your first time out, take it easy and watch your depth finder closely until you familiar yourself with the areas you are going to fish. There may be trees, rocks or areas such as points, humps etc., that change rapidly from deep to shallow and potentially result in damage to boats and motors. If you follow this simple guideline, there is no reason you should end up with boat or motor damage. Normally, if you stay in the main channel indicated by the international boundary markers you will be OK but an occasional tree or rock pile may bite you so even then, take it easy.
Mexican Fishing Nets Way back when, you only had to be concerned about nets on the Mexican side of the lake. Now, nets are routinely found on both sides of Falcon and it is easy to cut a seal in the lower unit if you wrap a bunch of mono up in your prop. Avoid this by trimming your big motor up any time you are fishing. If running slow speed with the big motor, you might try leaving the trolling motor down as a blocker, it is much easier to clean mono out of it than the big motor. If you do end up with mono in your big motor, pull over to the bank, pull the prop and clean it out immediately. This can help you avoid loss of seal integrity. After an episode of mono, check the lower unit grease each time you use the boat for a few times. Signs of water penetration such as milky color oil or water running out when you remove the filler should be dealt with immediately to avoid serious lower unit problems.
Highway 83 Bridge Update: 06/24/01
Egress via the
route under the bridge is workable below 254.75 if windshields and seats are removed.
The above information is based on reports and observations and present conditions
Tiger Update: 06/23/01
These pictures were taken June 9th at a lake level of 251.99 (49.28 ft low). Two boats have found a submerged trestle or component of an old structure in the Big Tiger, about ½ way between the old Highway 83 Bridge and Juan Velas El Tigre launching area. This obstruction is in the main channel of Big Tiger, under water just enough to be invisible but dangerous. One boat was totaled on this structure and another limped back with a destroyed lower unit. Efforts to mark the underwater hazard have been unsuccessful as the obstruction is not clear across the main channel and only becomes a factor if you inadvertently zero in on its location.
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