One of the best ways to get to the 99 Boat Ramp at Choke Canyon from Whitsett is to take old Hwy. 281 south from Campbellton and turn right at Whitsett on Hwy. 99. That takes you straight to the lake and meets up with Hwy. 72.
It’s not like taking a drive through the Hill Country or anything like that but you still get to see plenty of farm country and it takes you over Opossum Creek and the Frio River before you get to one of two main entrances to the lake.
Now, I don’t dare go that way anymore. I don’t even want to go through Tilden, which may be the best way to go to Choke Canyon from Pleasanton these days.
The problem is called Eagle Ford Shale and all its rumbling traffic of heavy trucks and 18-wheelers. It all starts at Jourdanton as you drive south and it intensifies at downtown Tilden as you approach the Courthouse. You can’t call Tilden a quiet and peaceful town anymore. It’s infested with oil field vehicles and other related machinery.
Last Friday I went to Choke for the day and I went through Tilden. I did not rest easy until I reached the main entrance at the Calliham Unit and I was able to let out a sigh of relief. Traffic was heavy all the way from Jourdanton to downtown Tilden and beyond.
Not too long ago, before this oil and gas boom hit South Texas, you could drive south on Hwy. 16 from Jourdanton to Tilden and turn left on Hwy. 72 and be at the lake in 40 minutes. That was an enjoyable drive also and Hwy. 16 from Jourdanton to Tilden is in excellent shape. But with the heavy traffic that is on that road these days you can’t relax one minute. You have to really keep your eyes on the road and rear-view mirrors not only from heavy traffic that comes up on you from behind but also from the cross roads that are now infested with buildings and yards. Trucks seem to be coming out of those yards and side roads continually 24 hours a day.
My good friend, Dick Mittanck of Pleasanton, who loves to catch bass as much as anyone I know, says he doesn’t go to the lake through Whitsett anymore because the road has deteriorated too much for his liking. Not only is the traffic too heavy but the potholes and low spots are too numerous. “Not too long ago I was coming home from Choke on Hwy. 99 and it got dark on me and I didn’t see a low spot on the road. I hit it hard and wound up replacing two springs on my boat trailer,” he said.
Perhaps, the best way to go to Choke these days is the way Bob Turner, a member of the local bass club, suggests. “Just take 1-37 south all the way to Three Rivers and turn right on Hwy. 72. You’re a just a few minutes away from the lake,” he says.
A fishing trip is supposed to be good for relaxation, your health and peace of mind.
Not if you go to Choke Canyon.