Delores arrived at the launch site first and noticed a gentleman who had already set himself up under one of the pavilions overlooking the barge canal. She wandered over and said 'hello' to him and asked him about the type of fish generally caught from the canal. "Black Drum", he said. "They're all over the place right now." He introduced himself as Wayne and the two of them chatted for about 10 minutes before Virginia arrived. He seemed to know the area very well and was not shy about sharing his knowledge of the fishery for both the canal itself and the inshore area where Delores and Virginia were about to try.
Between 9:00 and 9:30 a.m., Delores and Virginia lugged their kayaks down to the launch site and got them decked out for a morning of fishing while waiting for Jill to arrive and chatted with Wayne who was pulling up his crab trap from the pavilion. He used the crab claws for Black Drum bait. Anyway, Jill still hadn't arrived by 9:30 so Delores made an ETA call to her but just got a voice mail. They decided to go ahead and paddle out a bit hoping that Jill would catch up with them within the hour.
Based on their perspective of the surroundings, they expected the morning to be exceedingly productive, possibly catching trout every two to three casts or so. That, unfortunately, did not happen. The morning was disappointingly slow despite the strong incoming tide. There was no luck at all using a popping cork with the exception of the dreaded sail cats...YUK! They split up about an hour into the morning. Delores fished the grass line to the left and Virginia to the right. Their luck took a turn for the better after trading popping corks to fish the bottom with jig-heads and shrimp. It took an hour or so of random casts to finally turn a fish. All of their redfish were small in comparison to what they had hoped for, but expectations can't be too high when scouting out a brand new area.
Virginia followed the grass edges and continued to find more of the small reds, wondering where the larger ones were that everyone was talking about invading the inshore at this time of year. Those big reds certainly weren't taking any bait, leaving that to the naïve little ones. Delores pulled up anchor and let the wind push her out between two islands and she drift fished with a small shrimp on a white jig-head. By sheer luck she hooked into what she thought was a large Jack Crevalle. She took a few pictures of it and hailed Virginia on the radio excited that this Jack was the biggest she'd ever caught. The discovery that she had actually caught a Florida Pompano didn't come to light until she arrived back home to show her husband the pictures. It was only then that she learned what she had actually caught Time for a little research on the species.
It was a slack high-tide by noon and they knew the tide would turn out-going within the next 15 to 20 minutes. Based on the distance they would have to paddle to get back to the launch site, they agreed that it would be best to start heading back in that direction during slack tide because paddling against the current and increased wind would not be an enjoyable exercise. So they called it a day, released what was left of their shrimp and made it back to the pavilion by 1:00 p.m. Either they had missed Jill or Jill had missed them. The only indication that she had even been on the premises was a note stuck under Delores's windshield wiper saying that she had arrived late and just fished from the pavilion without any luck. They packed their gear back up and loaded kayaks and noticed that Wayne had stuck around, too. They strolled over to see if he had better luck and to say goodbye and then drove back down that bumpy, three-mile, pot-hole riddled limestone road wondering if they would put their vehicles through the six-mile abuse again on another day and was it worth it. Yes it was, and yes they will.
The Recon Mission
Back in the Spring of this year, Delores ran across an ad in the sports section of the Citrus County Chronicle about a First Annual Kayak Fishing Tournament being held in nearby Yankeetown. She sent out an e-mail notice to all of the NCLA ladies and asked for a reply from any of them who were interested in participating. Judy resplied and wanted to compete but didn't have a kayak, so they solved that problem by renting a tandum kayak from Aardvarks and competing as a team.
At the Captain's Meeting the evening before the tournament, one of the organizers presented a Power Point slide show as he went over the various rules and answered questions. Part of that slide show was a segment informing the group, some of whom were from out-of-town, where the various kayak launch sites where. One spot in particular caught Delores's eye, a site called Felburn Park. She wrote the name of the site down, put it on her list of "Places to Launch This Year" and after many, many months passed by, she finally made plans to check the site out with her own two eyes.
The NCLA women met last Wednesday for a casual luncheon at the Plantation's West 82 Bar & Grill and afterwards, Delores, Dot, Liz and Theresa made a trial run to the site. The access road was made of gravely limestone riddled with pot-holes and ended up being approximately three miles long by the time they reached the end of it. But oh, it was worth the bouncy ride.
Smiles, nods of approval and illusions of trophy sized fish were the reactions of all of the gals. Delores sent out a new e-mail with immediate plans to fish the area and two of the ladies accepted, Liz and Jill. Meet-up instructions were exchanged and rods were prepared.
We're just a bunch of ladies having fun on the water.