Sometimes the hardest part of living on the Crystal Coast is deciding how to enjoy it most. We live in an area of extraordinary scenic beauty. During the fall when our weather reaches its peak of delightfulness, it is often easy to get overwhelmed with choices.
With the beach just ten to fifteen minutes away and the White Oak River in my backyard, I usually first wrestle with which kind of water I have missed the most during the last few days. Then I start trying to decide what I want to do on or in the water.
With a somewhat flexible work schedule, I usually can find a few times each week to fish, boat, walk the beaches and kayak. Sometimes I fish while walking the beaches, but if it windy, I might just walk. Boating is the same way, sometimes I just feel like a ride down the river and other times, I might bring my rod and see if I can find some fish.
Earlier in the last week of September, 2013, I managed to run our skiff down the river late one day almost to Swansboro before deciding to turn around. It turned out to be cooler and windier on the river than I expected so I headed home with the thought of waiting for a better day for a longer boat ride. When the heat is here, one of my favorite things to do is go before breakfast to fish from the skiff in the marshes near Swansboro. It is a little cool during the very early morning in the fall for that.
As the daylight shortens, it is also impossible to get in more than one activity like I do in the summer when I might go for a skiff ride in the morning and take the kayak out in the evening. I can still manage to burn the candle on both ends on Saturday but it is my least favorite day for boating because there are more boats around then. Kayaking on a Saturday morning and enjoying a long beach walk in the afternoon is very possible.
Of course there are days when other duties call. On Saturday, September 28, gardening sneaked into the schedule. While I managed to get our fall broccoli, cabbage, and lettuce planted earlier during the week, the row of English peas that I wanted to plant required a little more time and a trip to the store to get some seeds. That left me with only Saturday afternoon for play so I planned a hiking-fishing trip to the Point.
It only takes me twelve to fifteen minutes to reach the Station Street parking lot near the Point. Time seems to stop when I am out standing in the surf or walking along the beach so I do have to be careful to check my phone once in a while to make certain that I am not interrupting our plans for the evening at home. This last Saturday in September I managed to make it home around 6:30 PM which kept me out of trouble. It was hard to leave the surf. The waves were full of finger mullet and the air was full of pelicans. It was a stunning sight to see all the big birds have their fill of fish.
Sunday is a little more difficult to sneak in some recreation other than my standard walks in the morning and the evening. This last weekend it was nearly 2 PM by the time got home from church after the service and lunch with some friends. My spinning reel needed new line and a little football seemed in order, but I still managed to get out in the kayak sometime around 4 PM.
If time stops on the beach, it goes into another dimension when I am out on the water in kayak. On a day when you can just float and fish and not worry much about the currents or wind time has little meaning. Sunday, September 29, was just such a day. The wind was light, the water was blue and there was a rising tide. The conditions were perfect for stalking fish along the many oyster bars in the White Oak River.
By the time that I thought to check my watch, an hour and forty five minutes had slipped away. I made the wise to decision to call my wife and tell her that I was working my way home. It only took me thirty minutes to do the fifteen minute journey. I had to cast in a few favorite holes, but it was so beautiful that taking pictures occupied a bit of my time also. There was an especially photogenic great blue heron in one of the pine trees. My fishing efforts only got me visits from a small bluefish and a short flounder, but it was close to magic out on the river. Fish are always optional.
While I could have gone out in the skiff and taken another beach walk, the kayak was my choice for Sunday afternoon. It has the advantage of silence. All I do is slide it into Raymond’s Gut behind our house and start dipping my paddle into the water. Sometimes I just let the current take me where it will.
Often like my recent trip I managed to get some great pictures. Sometimes it is a great egret, an osprey, or a special great blue heron like this trip. Once in a while I will catch dinner and that makes it even more special. Check out these pictures for a sample of my activities. The first album is mostly kayaking pictures, but here are some pictures from a recent hike on the Point and a White Oak River boat ride from late summer.