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Falcon Lake Launch Ramp Conditions and Lake Hazards    Jump to Hazards and Weather/Lake Levels | Species/Stocking | Fishing Guides | Lake Map | View lake level data. That means the old Veleno bridge is about six inches out of the water. But



May 25, 2023: As of today we are back on concrete ramp at state park! First time in four years!

August 2022: For current ramp info please see the Flash Fishing Report for current conditions!

February 8, 2022: It's been a while since I updated this page.. But here goes.. The county ramp here in Zapata is working fine at this level. 259.37 currently about 42 feet low.

Earlier in the year we added four lanes in width to the county ramp, and while water is up on the new concrete on the west side, at this level those lanes are not useable.

The left side of the ramp (looking down it) is fine and all sizes of boats have been using it with no problems..

At the state park we are still launching off the bank.. In several locations.. Easiest is turning left at the butterfly garden.. First right.. And first right at the first camping spot with a cover you come to.. Follow the road down there.. Which really ain't a road but it will get you to a place where launching is pretty easy.. Solid ground and four wheel drive is usually not needed..

They are always launching somewhere at El Tigre Island.. You just gotta have a bit of a sense of humor getting to the water..

As always, if you have any questions about current launching conditions give us a call or stop by.. We'll point you in the right direction..

July 21, 2020: The County ramp, and the ramp out on the point at the county park are both operable currently. The lake level is 260.39, which is right at 40 feet low.

The state park concrete ramp is not useable at this time, but boaters have been making due launching off the bank down at the end of the canal leading up to the concrete ramp.

Fishermen will always find a way into the water.. But it should not have to be this way..

You will need four wheel drive to retrieve your boat if it is of any size.

The ramp at Beacon is still useable, as is the launch area the Tigers.. But it is always best to check on Tigers access before you make the drive in..

May 26, 2020: Recent rains have raised the lake a couple of feet and we are sitting at 262.38. Or 38.82 feet low.

It is possible that the Old Veleno bridge will be covered if we continue to rise, which we should for the next couple of days.. If we stay Status Quo and no more rain falls..

The county ramp is still fine and on concrete, but a lot of silt has washed on it the last few days. The county is trying to keep it cleared off..

The state park is still on dirt for the time being.. We need a few more feet to make the concrete ramp good again..

It is important to run the river channel as you navigate from North to South.. Watch your map and stay in the creek channels as well.

Still plenty of water out there.. Just use common sense and go easy if you don't know the area or remember what it is like at this level..

If you don't know, ASK!

April 17, 2020: Lake level as of today is 261.54.. The Old Veleno bridge is out of the water by about a foot.. So you should have no problem avoiding it.. Would like to go out and mark it but lake is off limits.. Currently all boat ramps are shuttered as the county and state have closed them due to Woohan virus fears.. Hopefully we will lift the bans soon. The county ramp is still on concrete.. The state park is on dirt on the point..

All we need is permission to use them.. Hopefully soon..

January 21, 2019: Lake level 264.28 As of today, the concrete ramp at the state park is still working.. But it is on the edge.. Any day now it may be closed if we loose any more water..

The county ramp here in Zapata is fine but flat, and two lanes wide. Beacons river ramp is still in operation.. And the secondary ramp at Siesta Shores (private) is just coming out of the water.

The ramp at Tiger island is high and dry, but launching can be done pretty easily on the point to the south of the main ramp.. Four wheel drive is a plus here.. And will be a plus at the state park when the concrete ramp closes..

The old Veleno Bridge is just a few inches under the water and must be avoided.. Look for markers on the west end of it and stay between them and the bank.. There are currently two large orange freon jugs on the west end of the bridge..

December 30, 2019: Lake Level 265.48.. Not a lot has changed in the last couple of months. Ramps at county and State park still on concrete. Veleno Bridge is still a hazard.. See below!

Call with any questions!

October 19, 2019: Lake level has been up a bit and down a bit.. But we are back to 265.66.

And that puts the old Veleno bridge in the hazard zone. You must avoid this obstacle to the west.. Ask if you don't know!

The State Park concrete ramp is useable today.. But it might not be tomorrow.. Launching on the point will be a necessity if we don't catch some water soon..

The County Ramp in Zapata is fine, but a bit flat.. Still got a lot of water on it..

Beacon Lodge river ramp is fine as well.. But a bit tough with the wind blowing..

You got any questions give us a call!



August 8, 2019: Lake Level 266.36. Old Veleno Bridge is just under the water about a foot.. Pass it on the west side going out of the Veleno! If you don't know, ASK! We'll mark it ASAP..

County and state park ramps still good.. Use center ramp at state park. Two left lanes at county.. (East)

Run river channel on top half of lake to avoid hardwoods on flats!

May 2, 2019: With the continual draw of water for the last month, we have gotten to the point where the bridge abutment in the river below Hedieona has become a serious threat.. Currently it is just under the water, as the lake level is 273.54.

Here are the Coords once again!

N 26°52,705 W 99°19,592

Avoid this thing to the west, or Mexican side by twenty yards and you will be fine.. Do not run the east side as there is another structure there when the lake gets a bit lower.. Get used to it.. If you run the river much you should lay in a short trail to follow on your machine..

Other than that, we are in good shape on the ramps etc.. And as always, if you don't know, just ask us!

April 2, 2019: Man.. I hadn't updated this page in months.. That's a good thing.. That means that there are no real hazards to speak of and the ramps are still working fine..

The county ramp is still five wide.. And all three ramps at the state park are operational. No bridges or concrete on the main lake to worry about..

Lake level is 275.58. - 25.62 feet low..

Still a shitload of water out there..

December 17, 2018: Hadn't written here in a good while. And that is a good thing.. Ramps are fine.. Lake easy to run.. Come on down!

October 16, 2018: The access points on the north and south ends of the lake are in good shape as we speak. All ramps at the state park and five lanes at the county ramp are open.

Local RV parks have ramps operating. Currently there is eleven feet of water under the new Veleno bridge, and ten feet of water over the old one..

Lake level is 274.85. Running the lake is no problem, but keeping in the channel from the Veleno down to marker eight is always a good idea..

September 4, 2018: Lake level 262.25 with a little water in the river.. But not a lot.. State park ramp still high and dry.. But launching on the point at end of canal not a problem,.

The county ramp is still fine with two lanes of concrete still in the water.. Old Veleno bridge is about a foot out of the water so no one should hit it.. I said should.. Go by it to the west..

Run the river channel on your electronics on the top half of the lake.. No problems if you do.. If you wander out of the channel there are occasional stumps that could mess up your day.. But it is not an issue if you run the channel..

July 23, 2018: The county ramp is flat, but still working good on the concrete. The state park ramp is out of the water and not useable, but launching on the bank has not been a problem. Four wheel drive is a good thing, but not imperative I hear.

The lake level is sitting at 264.12, or 36.9 feet low.

The old Veleno bridge is just under the water. Go past it easily to the west of the big floating marker. If you don't know, ASK!

I do not advise fishing above the Salado.. There's just not enough water up there to navigate safely, unless you really know where you are going.

June 13, 2018: State park ramp no longer useable.. County ramp is OK here in Zapata..

You must go around the Old Veleno bridge.. Stay to the west side of it going out of the Veleno.. If you don't know, ASK!

May 24, 2018: Lake level 268.07.. 33.13 feet low..

The county ramp is down to two lanes wide.. Flat but working fine.. The state park ramp is down to the center lane.. Still about six feet of water in the the ditch.. But still working fine..

Water releases have been reduced.. Hopefully we will catch some water soon.. And keep some of what we've got!!

April 9, 2018: Lake level 271.61.. All ramps still good.. Concrete bridge abutment in river below Hedieona about a foot out of the water.. Old Veleno bridge still about five to six feet under water.. Marker buoy on west end.. All good!

January 23, 2018: All ramps good! Lake level 283.55.

December 7, 2017: Lake Level 283.69

All Ramps open! No real hazards to speak of!!

What you see is what you get!

September 29, 2017: Well in the last three days, a metamorphosis has taken effect here at Falcon.. Big rains between Zapata and Del Rio have occurred, and we have risen over seven feet.. And still are still on the rise..

All ramps have been opened at the state park!

County ramp five wide!

We are at 270.94 and rising hard as I type..

The Old Veleno bridge is back out of the strike zone.. Stay to the right of the Yellow jugs when you go out of the Veleno near the old bridge.. But the way it is rising.. That will be a moot point in a couple days..

Lots of debris in the water on the top half of the lake.. And it could be anywhere.. Be careful out there!

Great to see the water!

September 12, 2017:

Lake Level 263.08

38.12 feet low

Launching at the county ramp is no problem, other than the fact that the ramp is a bit flat at this level. That and the fact that the ramp gets silted over a bit when there is some south wind wave action. But we're working on getting that cleared up..

The state park concrete ramp is still out of the water. But launching off the bank has been a pretty easy job as of late. Four wheel drive is a plus, but folks have been launching with a two wheel drive truck.. But if you have access to the 4x4, bring it..

Follow the path down the creek that leads to the concrete ramp and you'll see where everyone is launching. There is a big boulder on the bank.. You can launch on either side of it..

You can also launch in the Tigers at El Tigre Island camp.. Off the point to the south of the camp.. It is a little drive thru the pasture to get to the ramp.. But an easy one..

You should check with the locals there before launching.. There is a fee to put in there but it is reasonable.

As far as hazards go, there are hardwoods scattered throughout the lake when you get off the main river and creek channels.. Use caution if you do not know the water you are in.

But a little common sense will go a long way when it comes to keeping you safe and your rig intact..

Right now the bridge in the Veleno is out of the water by about eight inches, and if you run over it...

Well let's not even go there..

July 10, 2017: Lake Level 264.57

As of today, I would not use the state park ramp. Plan on using a 4x4 vehicle and launch off the point if you intend to put in down there..

The county ramp is still fine, but flat.. You about need to get your front wheels wet to launch your boat.

The Old Veleno Bridge is in the kill zone! You must avoid it to the west, coming and going.. If you don't know where it is, ASK!!

June 29, 2017: The lake has dropped to 265.94, and this is where things start to get dicey.. Or at least you need to know about a few things.. The bridge in the Veleno is in the kill zone about now, and you need to stay to the west side of the creek going and coming.. There is about a foot of water on top of the rails..

The ramp here in town is flatter than one would like, but still functioning on concrete..

The ramp at the state park down south is on the edge of usability.. Another six inches and it will certainly not be functional for any boat of size.. Plan accordingly..

I am sure there will be folks launching off the bank down there very soon.. I recommend four wheel drive for this application.. It can be done..

Pray for Rain!

March 23, 2017: The lake has been catching some water as of late.. But just a bit.. We have caught about a foot in the last month, and we are sitting at 271.47, or 29.73 feet low.

The good news is that at this level, there are five side by side lanes available at the county ramp..

Just in time for Bass Champs this weekend.. All three lanes are open at the state park as well. And ramps at Beacon are also useable inside the cove.

If you are headed up the river, the old bridge abutment is out of the water about a foot.. That is just a quarter mile south of the Hedieona. So for now it is easily visible..

The bridge in the Veleno is plenty deep not to be a hazard, but run the west side of the Veleno going and coming.. It is a good habit to get into..

Running the lake; What you see is what you get.. A few stickups here and there.. Run the channel and you got no problems..

January 17, 2017: Nothing like starting the year off with a lake in freefall.. We are sitting at 268.39, or 32.81 feet low. That's 4.6 feet lower than one month ago.. That's some bullshit.. This is crazy..

The county ramp is down to the two lanes on the east side of the ramp. And the state park ramp is down to the middle lane, and there is about five feet of water in the ditch on the way out.

Launching at local RV parks is spotty. Beacon still has a good river ramp, and will for a long time.

We still have plenty of access, but it is ridiculous to loose this much water this early..

The old Veleno bridge will become a problem soon.. Get in the habit of running the west bank when you enter and exit the Veleno.. We've had this conversation before.. If you do not know; ask..

Run the markers if you do not know the lake. But getting around is no problem.. What you see is what you get.. Proceed with caution in the creeks as there are a lot of hardwoods in them..

If you don't know.. Go slow..

December 14, 2016: The old bridge abutment in the river channel between Salado and Hedieona is now about 2" under water.. This is a hazard that has been around forever.. Or close..

Water level is 273.00, or twenty eight point two feet low..

Here are the coordinates on this monolith.. N 26°52,705 W 99°19,592

This is a boat killer at this level!! Otherwise what you see is what you get.. Be careful out there!

Ramps at both ends of the lake are working fine..

October 8, 2016: Hadn't said much on this page in a while.. Not a lot has changed. State Park and County ramps still working fine.. Three lanes back open at state park.. County has two good lanes and a couple on the right side that are OK for small boats..

Old Veleno bridge is safe from harm right now.. Bout four or five feet of water over it.. But stay in the habit of running on the right side going out..

What you see is what you get. No problems..

July 26, 2016: The county ramp here in Zapata has been relegated to the two left lanes, or the lanes to the east. While the other few are still in the water, there is a dropoff at the end of the concrete that is not good for your trailer..

I moved the barricade in front of the short ramps.. So launch on the east side when you go.. They are still working fine..

There is about four feet of water over the bridge rails in the Veleno.. At the most.. Go around it!!

One last note.. If you go up the river, before you get to Hedieona, stay to the west of the big block of concrete in the river channel. There are more concrete structures on the east side of the big chunk of concrete!!

July 21, 2016: As the water keeps on dropping, the hazards and ramps here will continue to be affected.. I'm just trying to keep the hazard from affecting you..

The ramp at the state park down south is now getting to the point that use of the side lanes with a big boat is not recommended. In a few days, at current release rates, they will not be useable for any boats.. I heard that they have put cones in front of them already..

The center ramp is fine and will continue to work for a few more feet of water..

The bridge in the Veleno is currently covered with about five and a half feet of water, and that is over the rails.. So it is not in the kill zone just yet, but you better get in the habit of dodging it on your way past it either on the way in or out. There are currently no markers on the bridge at all..

Skirt the brush to the west side on your way past..

I'll be updating this page more and more as the water falls..

Pray for a hurricane.. Soon..

June 3, 2016: The ramps on both ends of the lake are working fine. But there are a couple of hazards that you need to look out for. The old Veleno bridge is about nine feet under the water.. To the rails..

But there are marker floats attached to it that are substantial and you do not want to hit them either. They are currently under the water a bit, with one showing right on the east end of the bridge. Others cannot be too far away from surfacing. So I recommend that you skirt the brush line on the right or west side of the bridge coming and going out of the Veleno.

Another hazard that is in critical stage right now is the giant bridge abutment in the river just below the Hedieona.. You must miss this giant piece of concrete!!

Here are the coordinates on this monolith.. N 26°52,705 W 99°19,592

Travel past it on the west or Mexico side about twenty yards and you will be fine.. It is currently about a foot under the water!!

May 13, 2016: The lake continues to drop at an alarming rate.. And we are down to 274.51, or 26.69 feet low..

The marker buoys on the old Veleno bridge are coming out of the water, and I believe that some are just under.. So skirt the bank on the west side of the creek when you are coming and going to avoid any problems.

The concrete bridge abutment up the river just under the Hedieona only has about three feet of water on it.. So avoid it for sure.. If you do not know where they are then ask!!

I am not sure where this is going to end.. Or if it will..

April 9, 2016: The ramps at both ends of the lake are working fine, although the lake is dropping like a rock.. We have lost almost four feet since the middle of December.. But we still have plenty of concrete in the water at both ends of the lake.. We are sitting at 281.93, or 19.27 feet low.. No man made hazards out there in normal running lanes..

Pray for Rain!

March 1, 2016: Well March has rolled around and while we are loosing water, we still have no man made impediments in the water. For the most part.. We are sitting at 284.67, or 16.53 feet low..

If you happen up OPEC creek you will find the tops of the guard rail posts out of the water on the two bridges in there.. But that is not a place you should be hauling ass anyway..

Mainlake and river is all good at this level..

Most all ramps are working including state park and county.. The main ramp at Lakefront is getting dicey about now though I reckon..

It's still all good..

January 12, 2016: It's a new year and water levels are starting off higher than we have in several years. We are sitting at 285.7 or 15.5 feet low.

Launching at the county ramp here in Zapata is no sweat with five or six lanes open depending on who is backing the trailer. The state park ramp is in fine shape and all lanes are open. I call it a six lane ramp but you will rarely see two boats on the same ramp..

There are few hazards that are manmade in the lake at this level.. The only ones that come to mind are the bridges in OPEC creek. The tops of the rails are just under the water.. These are both surrounded by brush currently. If you are going there you need to use caution if you are unsure where they are at.. But they are certainly not a hazard while running the lake..

Of course anytime you are running up some back water creek you need to be on the lookout for fences and fence posts.. They are everywhere in the backs of creeks.. Common sense will go a long way.. Use it..

As always, ask if you need to know! It's all good at this level..

September 28, 2015: All things ramp related are good here on Falcon even though we have lost a couple feet of water since I last updated this page. We are sitting at 282.08, or 19.12 feet low.

Still no trouble on the main lake with bridges and other concrete items of destruction. There are a few bridges in the backs of creeks but you should be fine using ordinary precautions at this level..

More water would be good.. So pray for rain!

June 23, 2015: It's been a weird year but great year around here when it comes to water.. We have been catching it when we should have been loosing it.. But that is all good with me..

As of this morning we are sitting at 283.48, or 17.73 feet low.

And that means that there are no known hazards anywhere on the lake.. Other than the obvious.. Ramps are all great and launching at Tiger Island is very doable as well. Great water level to fish and play.. Come get you some..

April 15, 2015: You might have to worry about getting your taxes filed today, but you don't have to worry about the ramps and hazards on Falcon at this time. The county ramp is five wide, and all three ramps at the state park are open. The lake is still rising slowly, and parking places are getting a bit fewer at the county ramp below the hill. Other than that.. It is all good!

January 27, 2015: No problems at the ramps at this time.. If you are headed up the river be sure and watch out for the bridge abutment just below Hedieona.. If you don't know.. Ask!!

September 30, 2014: Ramps at both ends of the lake are working fine, especially with the 18" of new water.. We are sitting at 269.27 today..

Use center lane ramp at the state park.

At the county ramp use the two lanes to the left, or the east.. Drop off at lanes west of those..

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)

Michael Evans
International Water and Boundary Commission

P.O. Box 1
Falcon Heights, Texas 78545

Dear Mr. Evans,

In April of this year, Larry Bridgeman sent you a letter, which contained among other things, the request for IWBC to remove known hazards from the lake. In lieu of that action, we would like to request installation of warning signs at launching areas in order to alert boats launching of the dangerous areas and buoys to mark the hazards.

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.

There was a recent incident involving a new boat which had a lower unit destroyed at the North cut. I am not sure if warning signs would have helped or not but if there was a no wake warning in front of the cut and buoys marking the safe path, it should have slowed them down and possibly prevented the incident. At 257 ft elevation or above, most of the major hazards that exist in the lake are not a threat to boats or lives of boaters. However, the Old Veleno Bridge does become a hazard when it is covered by water at approximately 263' to 264' and up to 267/8 feet elevation. We are currently at 261'. What we need to do long-term is to return the lake to an average level of 280 to 290 ft elevation.

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


David Morales

CC:Larry E. Bridgeman
International Water and Boundary Commission Carlos Marin - Operations
Richard Peeace - Falcon Project Management


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
The lake has risen 7.18 feet from the 10th to Tuesday (9/24) and the Zapata County Point Ramp is working fine. Thanks to the combined efforts of the State Park Manager and the folks that provided the equipment (International Water and Boundary Commission) the road to the ramp at the State Park has been graded and the pier has been repaired and is back in the water. If driven too fast, the road is still rough enough to damage electronics and trailers, but it is about as good as it is going to get until they pony up some of the fees revenue and overlay it with a base and asphalt.

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

Launching Addendum - September 7, 2002 Lake Level 249.48 (9/6)
Launching at the Zapata County Point Ramp is history. Mike Patrick was kind enough to record his observations on the 7th:

"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."

July 27- Lake Level 254.54 (7/26/02)
I attended the Atascosa Bass Club weigh-in on Saturday at the State Park and stood there watching while one boat got stuck and blew the motor trying to help push the tow vehicle out of the mud. Finally a 4x4 came to their aid and pulled the rig out of the 12 inch deep mud they had somehow managed to find on the south end of the designated launching area. This was not to be the last of the disasters I witnessed this day and I was only there for an hour or so.

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.

Old 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. Following completion of this work, a cut on the
south side of the Bridge will be completed. This will provide separate channels for access to and egress from the Veleno launching ramps. By next winter, the hazardous condition that has damaged many boats in the past will have been eliminated and the near crashes by boats leaving and entering the Veleno through the same channel will be a thing of the past. The 5-year old permit for this work was recently extended courtesy of the IWBC, which is very much appreciated. The County recently extended the Zapata County main ramp by 30 ft and they are working on plans for a floating pier to facilitate loading and unloading at the County Point Ramp.

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.

Launching Addendum: 04/12/02 Lake Level: 252.40
The lake level has dropped 2.77 feet since May 15 and you must now go under the bridge leaving and entering the Veleno instead of through the cut. The only problem is for boats with high windshields. There is about 6 ft or so of water under the bridge and still about 20 ft of water on the ramp, but be advised: Keep your motor trimmed up because I tested the ramp today with the 200 hp motor trimmed down and hit some rocks. Fortunately I can straighten the prop so nothing hurt except my pride. Launching at the State Park is still OK and it is moving closer to the point every day. The Big Tigers bridge is now about two foot out of the water and some of our Castroville fishermen shot the GPS coordinates. Please note.
Bridge Position: N26degrees 52.124' W 99 degrees 15.276'
Launching at the State Park is off the rocky shoreline, but still working well. 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.

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.

Launching 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 is not advised from the El Tigre Island area at the present time.

Launching Addendum:Boat Launching Information  02/23/02  Lake Level: 257.19
The lake level has dropped nearly three foot since our last update on December 9. As of today, launching is not advised from the El Tigre Island area. Even the large 4 x 4's are experiencing difficulty at the present time. The Zapata County ramp is still working and there is about 4 1/2 ft of water on the cut going around the old Highway 83 Bridge. Launching at the State Park is still off the rocks and appears to be working on either side of the moveable pier.

Boat Launching Information  12/9/01  Lake Level: 259.85

Launching Addendum: December 9, 2001 Lake Level: 259.85
Launching at the Zapata County Point Ramp is still working well. The attached picture was taken at the State Park Launching Area today and, at the current lake level, launching is best accomplished from the right-hand side of the pier (facing the lake). If you are by yourself and/or prefer not to perform a sneaker-test of the water, you would be well-served to put a pair of rubber boots in the boat for loading and unloading. At this level, hooking up the winch and extricating yourself from the boat requires a subtle water entry on most rigs.

Launching Addendum: October 27, 2001 Lake Level: 258.67
This picture reflecting launching conditions at Falcon Lake State Park was taken October 27 during the South Texas Bass Anglers Club Tournament. The launching is best on the right-hand side of the pier (viewed facing the lake). Launching is also excellent at the Zapata County Point Ramp in Zapata. Beacon Lodge and El Tigre Launching is also available. A small fee is charged for launching by non-customers.

Launching Addendum: October 22, 2001 Lake Level: 259.40
The State Park Launching Area was well prepared and working fine for the OPEC Tournament. As one of the winners put it, " It was as good as any concrete ramp I have used". The preferred location for launching is to the right-hand side of the pier which has been reinstalled. The Zapata County Point Ramp is working fine. Launching is also available at El Tigre ramp and Beacon Lodge for a small fee from anyone who is not a resident or customer.

Launching Addendum: October 12, 2001 Lake Level: 259.99 (41.39 Ft Low)
Launching is now perfect at the Zapata County Point Ramp and you exit the Veleno by going through the cut at the right hand side of the old Highway Bridge. Just stay in the center and take it slow and you will be OK. It's a good idea to check the level as you go through and note your location for your return. Launching at the State Park is from the shoreline but it is working OK at this level. You may want to bring some rubber boots if you are squeamish about getting your shoes wet. The incline is not steep enough, in most of the areas, to load a boat without getting into the water to attach the winch strap.

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.

Launching Addendum: October 3, 2001 Lake Level: 259.99
No problemo!Launching at the Zapata County Point Ramp is working fine with no problems reported. Egress from the Veleno is through the cut at the right-hand side of the bridge. Stay in the center and you will do fine. The water level has risen to the point that it is near the top of the bridge but there is still some bridge showing. Beacon Lodge advises they are able to launch boats at this level. Launching at the State Park is from the shoreline but we have not had any reports of problems with loading or unloading. They will be getting the area ready for the OPEC Tournament which is coming October 19-21, so rest assured Calvin Snyder will have it in the best possible condition. Right now they are launching on the point but it is best to get instructions the day you arrive as to best location because as the water level changes, so does the preferred location.

Launching Addendum: September 16, 2001 Lake Level 254.69
Easy launch at Falcon State ParkThe State Park launching did not give anyone significant problems this weekend and although the pier has been moved up away from the lake (due undoubtedly to rapid rising water levels), you can launch almost anywhere in the area where the pier formerly resided. If you look across at the marker heading toward Salinas, just back in your trailer in that direction and you are good to go. Someone has placed a small stake at the water edge but it will probably soon be gone soon, a victim of some campers cook fire.

Zapata Area Launch Ramps on Falcon Lake    Jump to Hazards

Zapata County Facility - Point Ramp
Turn-off Highway 83 South on County Rd./Park Drive and drive through Falcon Lake Estates West to the launching facility. (Click here for map)
The turn-off is by United Home Services where a large orange batch concrete plant is located. Falcon Lake Tackle is across the street on the northeast corner. CLOSED Temporarily

Siesta Shores boat ramp is restricted to use of Siesta Shore property owners.CLOSED Temporarily
Beacon Lodge has an area for launching which when lake levels are at or above 255 ft. Launching is for customers of Beacon Lodge or to the public for a small fee. It is recommended that you call Beacon at (956) 765-4616 and confirm launching status before driving out there to launch.CLOSED Temporarily

Launching at Falcon State ParkFalcon 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 RampSan 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.

Known Falcon Lake Hazards and Potential Problems

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.

Old Highway 83 BridgeOld Highway 83 Bridge Update: 06/24/01
When the Lake Level drops below 254.00, the cut use starts to become problematic but finding the deepest water and drifting across is possible for most bass boats down to 253.25. Below this point, it should probably be avoided.

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
Old Highway 83 Bridge Old Highway 83 Bridge

Big Tiger Update: 06/23/01
At 251.99 the Big Tiger Bridge is visible and does not constitute a Hazard. However, when the Lake level rises to 254.00 ft and until it reaches 258.00 Ft elevation, Extreme caution should be exercised when navigating the Big Tiger. The Bridge is locate about halfway between the telephone poles and the point at Juan Vela's launching area.

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 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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