A Warm Late Oct. Afternoon Excursion to the Beach

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Warm Oct. Afternoon on the Beach

Warm Oct. Afternoon on the Beach

There is really no way that those of us on North Carolina’s Crystal Coast can complain about this fall’s weather.  We have endured a couple of chilly evenings, but for the most part, our fall weather has been stellar.  We have hardly had any clouds in the sky.

However, even here near the beach, cool weather has to start showing its chilly face eventually.  As someone who “closely” follows the weather in a number of places, I was aware that a cold front was scheduled to visit our area on Friday, October 28.   With that deadline in mind, I decided to head over to the Point at Emerald Isle on Thursday afternoon, October 27.

I have lost count of how many times that I have walked the Point this year, but I did not want to miss what might be our last day on the beach in 2011 when the temperature made it to 80F. There is nothing like walking the beach in the fall and wading in the still warm ocean water.  I really dread the time when I have to switch to bluejeans for my beach walks.

As I walk the beach in the fall, I like to fish a little, even if I don’t catch anything.  With fishing as part of my excursion, my outfit is carefully considered even down to the things that I take with me.

I don’t leave home without my fishing hat even though I am careful about putting on sunblock.  Mostly it protects my balding head without me getting sunscreen in my hair.  More importantly,  I have a waterproof case for my tiny clip wallet and a couple of cords that I hook to the case.  One cord has a multipurpose fishing tool, and the other has a tape measure and my fishing license in a waterproof plastic card holder.  My cell phone goes around my neck in another waterproof case which has a slightly different multi-tool attached to it.

In my back pocket is a small plastic fishing tackle box with a few lucky lures.  In my right pocket  goes my small Sony HX7V camera.  Below that pocket there is another zipper pocket for my truck keys.    I usually wear my ancient LL Bean’s sunglasses that have a reader section built into the lenses.  The lenses make tying knots in fishing line a lot easier.

If the weather is nice as it was on Oct. 27, then my Nikon 3100 with a telephoto lens will also be around my neck. You never know when the opportunity for a great bird picture might present itself.  A microfiber hand cloth and a light spinning rod complete the outfit.  I’m fairly sure that I scare most fish away as soon as I arrive on the scene, but I do get some good pictures.

Everything that could be damaged by water is in a waterproof case because I inevitably end up getting wet.  That is also the main reason that I wear a bathing suit on my excursions during the fall and summer.  This year after hitting over 100 miles hiking on the beach,  I settled on Crocs as my footwear.   On my long hikes, I typically end up walking in some silty areas where I would rather not put my bare feet which are normally perfectly happy on most of the beach.

On my October 27 excursion, I parked at the Station St. parking lot just off Coast Guard Road about 3 PM and started my hike to beach.  I didn’t get very far when a car stopped to ask me about finding a place to fish which didn’t require a lot of walking.  I guess he figured anyone looking as much like a beach bum as me had to be a local.  He seemed to be under the impression that you could park at the Coast Guard Station and fish there.  I corrected that illusion and gave him directions to Third St. Beach.  Then I continued on my journey.

I walked onto the beach from the Wyndtree Drive access public access point and headed west along the low tide line. Hitting the beach at around 3 PM meant that I arrived there at low tide.  The beach over at the Point continues to change with each visit.  It is almost a full time job keeping up with the changes there, but it makes for a topic that interests a lot of folks.  I am not an expert, but the tide over at the Point seemed lower than I had seen in a while.

The body of water that I have called the Emerald Isle community swimming pool  seemed to be gone.  There was little evidence of the swimming area where I had seen it on some of my earlier trips.   A little farther down the beach there was some indication of a little water not far from where it used to be, and then I ran into this area where I am guessing the the pool moved.   I’ll have to make another trip when the tide isn’t so low to see how much of a swimming pool remains and exactly where it has moved.

Walking west from there, I found some of the folks who fish the beach from their trucks parked on a sand ledge  which was actually a long way from the water.  It was almost like they were expecting the water to come to their trucks. Most of the truck fisherman don’t do a lot of walking.

As I got closer to the actual Point, I could see there were a few trucks down on the beach.  There were a lot of changes in the beach as I rounded the Point and headed north.

There was an impressive part of Bogue Inlet not under water.  I walked out and took this picture looking back towards the homes along the Point.

Then I walked down to what is called Coast Guard Island and continued along the north side of what is end of Coast Guard Channel.    The tide was so low that the remnants of Coast Guard Channel were split in two.  I took this picture at the head of the northernmost channel.

Looking back west towards Bogue Inlet made for a great photograph.  Next I walked up to the edge of the dunes and took this picture looking across Coast Guard Island towards the Emerald Isle Bridge.  There was an amazing amount of bait in the northern channel, but my few casts there did not raise any fish.

If you look closely in this photo, you can see the peninsula that the low tide gave us on Oct. 27.  This picture was taken looking east down the edge of the northern side of  Coast Guard Channel.  Here is a picture of the low tide peninsula between the two channels.  Finally this a shot from the same area looking back towards Bogue Inlet.

I had a great time wading around in the water and exploring some new sand.  I took the GPS track from my Droid and used an image editing program to fill in sand where it actually is based on my exploration.  While my hand edited map is by no means exact, it beats the Google map which has me doing a lot of walking on water.  The blue line is the 3.8 mile track that I walked at the Point on October 27.

You can see a lot more pictures of my journey at this Picasa web album.  I have my fingers crossed for another 80F day when I can once again put my strange uniform on and have another adventure.

If you think great October weather at the beach is rare, you should check out this album which I uploaded on October 10 last year.  I still remember the wedding party standing out in the surf.

As a side note no fish were harmed in the research for this post.  In fact none were caught by me, and I only saw one small fish put in a cooler during the whole hike.

 

 

The view from the water

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Marsh edges from my kayak

Marsh edges from my kayak

Most often when people talk about scenic views, they have in mind large scenes like this view from the bridge across Bogue Sound at Emerald Isle.  In fact I have written about how wonderful scenery like that can stretch the mind.

However, there is another, more intimate way of looking at our area that can be even more powerful in changing your perspective of the coast.  I doubt that I will ever forget my first kayaking adventure on our coastal river, the White Oak back in 2006.   Before that trip I was a veteran of many kayaking trips to Carvin’s Cove in the Roanoke, Va. area.   Those did not prepare me for sitting on water that is nearly two miles wide.

Actually it isn’t just the large views that making sitting on the coastal river water so special.  The small nooks and little places along the edges of the marshy shores are among my favorite spots. Then there is the fun of actually taking a trip on the river in a kayak to a place like Jones Island near Swansboro.

With a tidal river and the winds that are often prevalent here on the coast, it is rare that a round trip ends up being the same route each way.  If you look at this trip to Jones Island that I did earlier in the spring, you can see that on my return trip I had to make adjustments to compensate for tide and winds.  It took forty-five minutes of paddling each way, but the effort required was different for each leg of the journey.

Of course the water on a big river can get challenging fast, but with experience, even choppy water is relatively easy to handle.  I would not want to try kayaking in 20 mph or greater winds, but I have done plenty of kayaking in 10-15 mph winds.  While it looks a little scary when the wind is blowing, it actually isn’t that bad.

Even in conditions like the the linked YouTube video, the safety valve is to quickly paddle to a more protected section of the river.  Within a few minutes of taking that choppy water video, I paddled back into Raymond’s Gut at Bluewater Cove and took this video of me being gently pushed by the wind back to our dock.  The day before I took another video while gliding in the inlet and listening to birds.

The experience and views that you get sitting on the water in a kayak is totally different that what you might get from a tall bridge or flying down the river in skiff.

If you haven’t had a chance to explore our coastal rivers by kayak, it really is an opportunity that you should not miss.

Fish are optional

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Water near the Point at Emerald IsleOctober is typically one of our nicest months here on North Carolina’s Southern Outer Banks.  The air has lost some of its heat and humidity but the water is still warm.

For those of us who love to fish, October can be the time when we hit some home runs.  I have had some memorable fishing trips in the month of October.  In 2009, a fishing friend and I had an amazing afternoon with the bluefish around Bogue Inlet.  In 2005, I probably had the best half day of fishing in my life near Beaufort Inlet.  Both those trips were in late October.

With a hot summer that made fishing challenging, most of us fishermen and our female equivalents have anxiously been awaiting the fall fishing season.  Actually we have been trying to rush it along.  I did a little fishing early in the morning in late September, but the water temperature was near eighty degrees, and the fish still were not biting.   I considered those efforts scouting trips.

Even over on the ocean at Third Street Beach, it still felt like summer as September turned into October.  As the first week of October really got going, I received a call from a mountain top friend who really wanted to catch some spots.  In fact he was so eager to fish that he drove a few hours  straight to our place and hopped in my boat for an afternoon fishing trip.

Dedication like that is the sign of a true fisherman.  Anyone who will drive to the Crystal Coast and go fishing without even stopping for lunch is serious about fishing.  My friend and I fished a couple of afternoons, and he did catch a few spots.  However,  I caught only one blowfish for the two afternoons.  Neither my friend nor I were upset about the lack of fish.

It is always easy to come up with excuses for not catching many fish.  In my case, I am not a very dedicated bait fisherman.  I would much rather catch a fish on an artificial lure of some sort.  Both of my most memorable fishing trips revolved around a single lure on each trip.  No other bait was involved.

It takes very little to get me to stop fishing with bait and start fishing with lures.  I am also known for ignoring what is happening regarding fish if I happen to get distracted by a good picture that needs taking.  It is not unusual for me to be caught completely ignoring fish  and snapping pictures.  I almost lost a rod and reel over on Third Street because of that recently.  I was bottom fishing with one outfit in a sand spike and had wandered off casting with a lure and taking pictures when I just noticed a large wave knocking my pole over. I managed to catch it on the next incoming wave.

When I am really serious about fishing, I usually carry one rod and in my back pocket is a small plastic box with a few lures.  That is all the tackle that I take.  I do take two cameras though.

Most of the time fish are actually optional for me, but I truly love to stand in the water and fish, and that is exactly what I did on the afternoon of October 7, 2011.  I first tried Third Street beach, but the currents were too strong so I headed down to the Point. This is a movie of the beautiful waters that afternoon.

After my hike down to the beach and out the vehicle ramp,  I fished the south side and west end of Coast Guard Channel.  Then I walked over and hit the shore just north of the Point.  I got to enjoy some birds swirling in the air just before I got to the beach.

Once over on the shore I headed back along the beach and enjoyed the impressive waves along the south side of the beach.  I didn’t start fishing until I got just in front of the little hook of sand that makes the Point area so interesting for fishermen and even swimmers.

I had been in and out of the water all afternoon so wading into it one more time was not a problem.  It only took me a minute to adjust to the water temperature. I worked the water pretty well, but I didn’t raise any fish.

If I had been really serious about catching fish, I would have probably moved on or changed lures.  However, the location, the view, and the weather were close to perfect so I just stood there fishing the same water with little expectation of catching a fish.  The moment was perfect even without catching a fish. I stayed so long that I felt the need to call home and apologize for being a little later than I had promised.  Fortunately my wife knows me well and had already planned on me being late.

You can see some views of my fishing spot at this photo album.  I will be posting more photos there after I get my weekend chores completed.  My trip to the Point didn’t produce any fish for me, but it was spectacular afternoon on the water.  It was a real treat.  I will take an afternoon with no fish in the surf by myself over a day of sitting among the spot yachts any time.

The truth is that I throw back most of the fish that I catch anyway.    Fishing is a sport of patience instead of immediate gratification anyway.  If you keep fishing , you will eventually have some of those memorable moments.  You cannot catch a fish without your line being in the water so this time of year, I try to stick it in the water whenever I am near water.

I had some recent fun fishing in my kayak.  I even caught a fish,  which was nothing to brag ab0ut, but I ‘m hoping that it is a sign of things to come.  The sunsets that I have seen while fishing in my kayak will stick with me longer than the memory of the fish that I threw back.

I will be back out on the water the first chance that I get, but I won’t be disappointed if I come home empty handed.

The scenery and the water are all that I need.  Fish are definitely optional