Once you have enjoyed a perfect morning or a perfect afternoon on the river, you keep going back trying to grab another piece of perfection. The experience hooks you. Maybe it is the river seducing you.
For me it is just the pure relaxation that you can get from floating around between the oyster rocks on a blue sky day when the wind and tide conspire to make life easy on the river. Though I often use the word paradise to describe the Crystal Coast, do not be lulled into thinking that all days are like the one in the picture.
Sometimes those days are pretty hard to find even for those of us living here. That is especially so during the persistent winds that are common. Still I am one of the lucky few who can look at his schedule and take an hour or two to go kayaking/fishing if things are not too busy at work. I might have to make up some work later in the evening, but that is a small price to pay if you hit one of those wonderful days on the White Oak River.
My kayak is rarely more than ten feet from the water and I just launch from our backyard. Depending on the wind and tide, I can paddle to the middle of the river in ten to fifteen minutes so there is no putting my kayak on a car and driving thirty minutes to get to water. We kayak nine to ten months out of the year depending on the water temperature.
The biggest enemy of kayaking on the coast in a big coastal river is wind. The more experience you have kayaking, the more wind you can handle. That is assuming you have a kayak that can also handle it. In the last ten years, I have kayaked exclusively in a small area of the White Oak River. I rarely go very much north of our inlet, Raymond’s Gut, and I have never kayaked south of Jones Island, the island at the bottom of the map. I know my part of the river very well, but even I can get beat up the wind and tide.
Wednesday May 11, I had a few hours off and there was hardly any wind in our inlet. However, I learned long ago that the lack of wind back at our house in the marsh means nothing when talking about wind on the river. I have also figured out the best way to understand what is happening on the river is to paddle out there and check it out. I have a couple of close fishing spots where I can usually wet a line even in tough conditions. I headed out Wednesday and I figured out the conditions before I got very far into the river. Still even with all the wind and waves, I was determined to fish a little. Three our four casts were all that I needed to decide that working my way back into Raymond’s Gut and fishing the marsh edges was the only logical course.
I did that and fished for twenty to thirty minutes without getting a touch so I headed back to my dock less than five minutes away. Thursday, the next day, during my morning walk around the boardwalk in our neighborhood, I took a couple of telephoto shots and determined the river might be a quieter on Wednesday afternoon.
Before I even considered my earlier experience, I was sliding my kayak in the water and heading out on another journey. From the attached map you can see my trip after I got in the river and turned on my GPS recorder. While it was by no means an easy paddle, it was beautiful out on the water and I was determined to get to my oyster rocks and fish. I got there, made one cast and the skies opened up. A rainstorm that I thought was crossing the river at Stella had come downriver. I was one wet fisherman by the time that I got back to the dock. Once I got inside our inlet, I stopped to take a picture. Instantly a new joke came to mind. “How do you give a kayak a bath.” The obvious answer of course is “to take it fishing and dry it off with a towel.”
I used a cloth to wring out a couple of inches of water in the kayak. It is good that I have a short memory. I’ll be back on the river chasing fish again this upcoming weekend. Often it takes two or three times to finally enjoy a nearly perfect day on the White Oak and and catch dinner. It is worth it because I love doing it. The river is truly magical when you find that perfect combination of water, calm winds, blue skies and a slack tide.
I have no plans of giving up just because I got wet one kayaking trip. That is the first time I have been wet from rain while kayaking in over 23 years. At least it was a warm rain, I have been soaked to the bone fishing on a skiff in late October when the rains will chill you to your bones.
It is time to make vacation plans for this summer’s trip to the beach. Do not forget our travel guide. The Kindle version is $3.99. Purchasers of the Kindle version can get a free update to 2016 version when we publish in late May. Amazon has the full color, 180 plus page 2014 paperback version for $24.95 and it is prime eligible. We are revising it in June.
If you have been waiting for my latest newsletter, it is going out before the end of this second weekend in May 2016. I want to offer my sincerest apology for it being late and I will explain the delay in the newsletter
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