Summary: If you’re looking for a short paddle through sheltered waters with plenty of wildlife, I highly recommend launching at Hugo Point. If the weather permits, you can also venture into some of the surrounding, bigger waters for more marsh to discover. The safety and quality of the launch site at Hugo Point Park is top-notch, and you can enjoy a pleasant day on the water without worrying about coming back to your windows being broken.
The Hugo Point launch in Cove, TX is an old favorite of mine. It’s where I shot my first gar, took my selfbow Catfish on his first paddle, and typically where I take the kayak out for the first bowfishing trip of the year.
The boat ramp is in a park that also has a pavilion, restrooms, a paved parking lot, and a scenic tower overlooking the vast marsh. It’s a popular destination and there are usually plenty of people at the ramp. Every time I’ve been there has also been a sheriff car on site, so safety isn’t as much of an issue here like it is with many other launches.
No matter your destination, you’ll need to paddle about half a mile down a wide, cane-lined bayou. Since the ramp is popular, there is usually quite a bit of power boat traffic in this bayou. I’ve never had a trouble with any of the boaters, however, and they’ve all slowed down and waved as they passed.
The bayou opens into the very south of Old River Lake, right where the lake drains into Cotton Bayou, which eventually meanders to the Trinity Bay. The water at the Hugo Point launch is fed by the Trinity River and rises and falls in accordance to the Wallisville Trinity River gauge. Beware! If the Trinity is running high, the current will be strong where the lake drains into Old River. I went once during the Trinity’s crest in a particularly rainy spring and was not able to paddle upstream, no matter how hard I tried. So don’t turn downstream into Cotton Bayou without testing the waters first – literally!
Wildlife is abundant in this brackish marsh. Bait fish make a big commotion as you near the shallower areas, and I’ve had a few slam into my kayak’s hull. There’s a wide variety of birds here, and all are very active. Focus your eyes into the reeds for a few minutes and you’ll undoubtedly see a few birds scavenging materials for nests. Paddle around corners slowly and you’re also likely to see a bird stalking shallows for the active bait fish. I’ve also seen snakes, but probably not nearly as many as I’ve passed.
In the video above, I crossed Cotton Bayou and explored the far side of the marsh. There are a series of shallow lakes that I did not explore aside from looking at them from the shore, but there was plenty of evidence that this is a popular place for duck hunters. Though I haven’t had any trouble with power boaters at the boat ramp, I was almost ran over by an airboat in one of the channels here. Had I not hugged the shoreline, there is no way the driver would have been able to stop before hitting me. I learned an important lesson: If you’re silently paddling through a small, meandering cut and you hear what sounds like an airplane coming towards you, MOVE.
On the eastern side of Cotton Bayou there are concrete structures and platforms that look like relics of this area’s past, though I’m not sure for what purpose. There are also a few log and structure jams where I saw a few nutria rats. There are plenty of things to explore, so get out there!