After much debate over the weather, it was supposed to be a 70% chance of rain/thunderstorms, Judy and Sue ended up throwing caution to the wind and went out kayak fishing on Friday. As luck would have it, it ended up being a beautiful day. Judy made a pit-stop at the bait shop to pick up some shrimp and then met Sue at the the Pirate's Point launch site in Ozello at 8 a.m. Not long after they were out, the tide started moving out pretty fast and the wind was a bit of an issue for a short period of time but it settled down eventually. Judy caught the first fish - a puffer fish, then Sue caught a 14" redfish, which is always fun. Judy had a close encounter with some dolphins, but they didn't stick around too long. They caught various species of smaller fish during the day, grunts, pinfish and lizardfish and then paddled back to shore around 1:00 p.m. and soon realized that they made it through the day without catchine one single catfish...YAY !!
Thursday, Sept. 18th, Delores and Dot met at Captain's Cove Bait and Tackle Shop in Yankeetown for a kayak fishing adventure in Steinhatchee, neither of which had ever fished that area before so this would be an honest-to-goodness raw adventure for the both of them. They were on the road headed north by 6;30 p.m. and did their best to deal with the light rain and keep up with the constant rise and fall of the posted speed limits as they drove through the connecting towns. 65 to 55 to 45 to 35 to 45 to 55 and back up to 65 again. This went on several times for miles and miles until they finally reached their destination at Good Times Motel & Marina where they had made a reservation for the night.
They arrived at 7:30 p.m,, just as the sun was setting and made a B-line to the check-in office. They were tired, hungry, and ready to unload! Three 4-legged greeters met them as they walked through the door and made sure that they each got a pat on the head and a scratch under the chin before allowing visitors to pass on to the check-in counter. There's nothing that puts a smile on a weary traveler faster than a wagging tail or affectionate purr.
With the check-in formalities out of the way, Delores and Dot headed straight for their vehicles and took out only the bare necessities. The minimal amount that would get them through a good night's sleep because ultimately, all of those things were just going to be repacked the following morning anyway. A quick check to make sure everything was in its place and then it was off to the Who Dat Bar & Grille, a screened in restaurant attached to the marina. Needed a quick bite to eat before turning in for the night. Nice sized grilled chicken salad for Dot and a BLT with fried green tomatoes and french fries for Delores along with a cold beer....THAT hit the spot. Then it was off to bed...
Can't say that the night was all that restful. Dot was missing some sheets and the A/C was a bit noisy but the beds were comfortable and when you're tired you can sleep through just about anything sometimes. The alarm went off at 6:30 a.m. and after a quick shower and repack, they turned the keys back into the office and picked up a few bags of frozen shrimp because they didn't feel up to driving around unknown territory trying to find a local bait & tackle shop that had live shrimp, although in hind-sight, they probably should have. The only thing they had on their minds at that time was getting a bite to eat for breakfast and finding their launch site with the crude set of directions they had been given from a friend.
The manager at Good Times Motel & Marina had given the ladies a good tip on where to eat breakfast. Seemed Casey's Cove Convenient Store, a landmark they had passed on their way to the hotel, had a small cafe' inside where one could eat a bite, so naturally that's where they went. It wasn't too busy for a Friday morning at 7:30 a.m., so they helped themselves to a cup of fresh coffee and talked out their expectations of the day over pancakes and breakfast sandwiches. The first challenge would be finding the recommended kayak launch site at a place called "Sink Creek". They crossed their fingers and hoped for divine guidance.
Following the directions given, Dot followed Delores through the parking lot and onto Hwy 361 heading west where the road is affectionately called "The Road to Nowhere" because if you follow it all the way to the end, it dead-ends in the marsh near the Gulf. Great view, they were told, but by no means were they planning on going to that extreme. If they ended up that far down, clearly they missed their turn....and they almost did just that. Directions stated that the Sink Creek Road turn off would be approximately 6.6 miles from Casey's Cove, but Delores forgot to start her trip-ticker when they pulled out of the parking lot and didn't know how many miles she'd driven before she realized that little mistake. She had to rely on good old-fashioned eye sight to spot the street name before she passed it. As she was cautiously traveling, she spotted a sign that potentially could have some significance but passed it before her brain processed the words on the sign. She and Dot pulled over about 100 yards after the fact to discuss the matter. Delores made a U-turn to check it out and it was a good thing she did, too, because it was the exact turn off they they were looking for. She signaled to Dot to turn around and by 8:00 a.m., they were happy to know they were on the right track. The travel between the turn-off and the launch site, however, would be another story.
The mile long Sink Creek Road seemed like it took forever. It is a low lying road that has small flood planes every 500 yards or so during high-tide days. Luckily both Delores and Dot were driving trucks with good tires. They actually came to one particular water covered spot in the road and questioned their ability to cross it safely because they didn't know how deep it was or how hard or soft the bottom was. Delores went first and crossed it without any problem, however, Dot's truck was bigger and heavier and there was concern for her until she made it across safely as well. But the question was how many more of these areas were there before they reached the launch site and were they willing to take them all on?
And if the huge pot holes weren't enough to scare them off, what about the swamp flies? They made their presence known when Delores and Dot got out of their vehicles to evaluate the pot hole situation. They flew into the trucks when the doors were opened and the next ten minutes were spent trying to avoid smaller pot holes while opening and closing the windows to let swamp files out at the same time. Hard to multitask those two at the same time. The question rolling around in their heads now was how infested the launch site would be with them, but they were at the point of no return. They would know the answer within the next ten minutes.
By 8:30 they had arrived at the launch site and were pleasantly surprised by what they saw. Good hard ground on which to park. Few if any bugs and/or flies, beautiful scenery, smooth-as-glass water, and peaceful surroundings. It was well worth the one (but what seemed like five) mile to get there. Now time to get down to business.
The gear loading routine was going like clock-work until Dot found out that she couldn't get her two paddles to join together. Delores was whistling Dixie while joining her own to paddles together until she heard a loud "cracking" sound behind her. She turned around to find Dot slamming a three pound rock on the poor little paddle tab that is supposed to spring in and out of the paddle shaft and lock two shafts together to make one long shaft. That's how they do it in New York it seems. When that didn't work out according to plan, Delores suggested a different strategy. They squeezed a little gel hand sanitizer inside and around that little silver tab and massaged it through the cracks while they whispered sweet nothings to it.....and.....it worked....just seconds before Dot was about to slam it against one of the nearby boulders. So, that was one less thing they had to worry about now.
By 8:30 a.m. the girls were locked & loaded & ready to launch!
Date: Friday, Sept. 19th, 2014
Location: Sink Creek
Time Out: 8:30 a.m.
Air Temp: 72 degrees
Weather: 20% chance of rain
Barometric Pressure: 30
Tide: Incoming - 11:00 high tide
A sign - going in the right direction!
As they paddled west following the flow of the creek, they came upon a primitive campsite on their left just 500 yards from the launch site. Even though they had just found their paddle rhythm, Delores made a pit stop to check it out. She was being watched by hundreds of fiddler crabs as she approached the shoreline and since they didn't run scared when she pulled up, she tried her hand at corralling a few.
Of all the useful things a big brother can teach a little sister during childhood, how to catch a crab with your bare hands is something that may one day come in handy :o) Several of these little critters where captured and stored in the home made live well for future use. The only cost was a slip in the mud which made for muddy clothes and sore butt! A short walk-about of the campsite revealed that it is still in current use because there was a fresh pile of chopped firewood nearby. Wonder who put it there?
Below, Dot hung out while Delores explored the campsite and then she paddled on, keeping her eyes peeled for jumping mullet or tailing redfish.
Once they reached the mouth of the creek, Delores and Dot paddled in opposite directions in search of a productive honey-hole, staying in contact by two-way-radio. The place was a beautiful grassy marsh. Grass beds as far as the eye could see - simply beautiful!
Delores and Dot paddled and fished, paddled and fished, paddled and fished some more. Even though they fished for hours on end, they came up with only pinfish, ladyfish, and catfish. Very disappointing in waters that looked so perfectly suited for trout and redfish. They were stumped. Shrimp on circle hooks. Pinfish on circle hooks. Shrimp on jig-heads, Gulp on jig-heads, sub-surface artificials - - - -nothing! What gives? Dot's theory was the barometric pressure at 30 and the drizzly forecast. Whatever it was, it sucked! No decent fish to speak of the entire time out. Not that it wasn't fun being out there on it's own....it was...but where were the keepers they had their hopes set on catching?
Even the unexpected grouping of structure didn't yield anything except a hook hang-up that had to be cut-off.
This is the paddle path with hours invested from start to finish
An overcast landed Delores's hook in a sea-grass clump and it became unretrievable by reeling in alone. Yet another foul hook-up. She pulled up anchor, again, and paddled toward the hook-set only to find the reason: the line was unretrievable. The hook got tangled in some discarded buoy line which was probably connected to a long lost crab trap somewhere nearby. So the goal of any day is to leave the water a little cleaner than you found it. With that in mind, that mangled clump of rope and styrofoam was fished out of the dead grass bed and tossed into the back of the kayak to be properly disposed of when back at the site.
Neither ladies had taken the time to eat anything since breakfast earlier that morning. Their focus was on finding and catching some nice sized fish and so most of the day had been spent paddling and blind casting into what looked to be promising fish holds. Eating took a back-seat. So on their way back to the ramp later that day, they stopped at the campsite they had passed on their way out to eat lunch, chat, and trow a line out while they ate. An hour later and still no fish to brag about. That's not to say they didn't catch fish....just not any target species, unfortunately.
A leisurely paddle back to the ramp after a bite to eat and the ladies loaded up their gear and made the hour and a half drive back home. It was a really fun adventure with different sights and experiences and all of the conditions were right for big fish but that was the only thing that would have made the day spectacular. Even so, it was a fun get-a-way and a return visit will be scheduled sometime in the near future....
If you notice at the bottom of Capt. David's business card above, you'll see, written in red, the catch phrase
" Information, Education, and Entertainment for Anglers". That phrase is actually a condensed version of their Mission Statement. A Mission Statement is a short sentence that describes the goals, purpose, and work of an organization and TOF's is pretty short and sweet. Not only does TOF host a very informative and educational website for the general public, they also support the less fortunate through charity work like the Make-A-Wish Foundation and abused children charity networks. If a need is brought to their attention, Capt. David and the staff at T.O.F.will make sure it gets addressed and followed up on. It's just the right thing to do when you have the resources at your disposal to help. Fishing just happens to be one of those activities that draws in and excites children of all ages. Play a mental video in your head of a child catching their very first fish. Imagining the look on their little faces and you'll find yourself smiling, too. You know it's something that a child will chatter about for days, even weeks afterwards. That memory may last a lifetime. It can the the catalyst that changes a child's life for the better, giving them hope for the future, even if it's just short term. However, it's as much of a benefit for the 'teacher' as it is for the 'student'....maybe even more so. Nothing makes for a better nights sleep than knowing that you helped a child that day.
Now let's address the topic of resources mentioned earlier. T.O.F. does all of these wonderful things mentioned above but it also has a network of for-profit companies that sponsor the site by giving away items in a free weekly raffle. Every week there is a new item posted to the site and some simple instructions on how to enter to win. This past week, for instance, they were giving a way a micro power pole for a skiff, canoe, or kayak. This little extra marketing campaign is another great way to encourage folks to become an active member on the site.
But, they don't stop there. In fact, Capt. David was generous enough to bring a brand new Snook rod that he personally designed himself to give away at the end of our NCLA meeting. That kind of generosity and good-will is what the world needs more of. He held up that long hunter-green colored rod and described it as a Gold Series IM-7 Graphite rod with silicone guides designed specifically for braided line and it even had a small Snook emblem varnished on for that little extra touch. We are a big fan of TOF - without a doubt!
He closed his introduction to the TOF site and jumped right into the topic of Snook...
The Capt. is clearly comfortable in front of an audience whether it's a group of 5, 50, or 500. He casually introduced himself as "David" and began by holding up an old-fashioned white and red bobber for everyone to see. He tossed it in the air several times as he described the inspiration behind theonlinefisherman.com website and why they selected the common bobber as the logo.
You know, there are so many extreme fishing logos out there that give the impression that you've got have an aggressive nature to be a real fisherman. These rough-neck logos attract and appeal to these kinds of "go-get-'em, tiger" anglers and that's all fine and good. But the common red and white bobber pictured above that you were introduced to by maybe your grandfather represents something more - or better yet - something 'less', something that's hard to find these days....the simple joy of simply fishing.
This humble little two-toned piece of plastic represents the simplicity of fishing. It's the undisputed universal symbol for fishing tackle and it's recognized almost anywhere you go, even in Europe. In fact, the bobber, in all the various new materials, shapes and colors available these days is still, by far, the number one piece of fishing tackle sold. Think about this:
Do you remember the very first time you awkwardly cast your line out in the water with a piece of bait on the hook and a bobber secured to it? Do you remember staring at it as it floated on the water top? The jolt of excitement you felt when you saw it pop under water for a split second? Then it went under again, all the way this time, and your line got tight? That's the moment when you held the rod a little tighter and you officially became "hooked" on fishing. That's the power one tiny little iconic bobber has to change your opinion of fishing. This little thing has probably been responsible for turning more people onto the sport of fishing than any other piece to tackle known to man, which is why it is the perfect representation for theonlinefisherman.com
It is the perfect 'dot' in the .com.
We're just a bunch of ladies having fun on the water.