Waves on the Beach

Waves near The Point, Emerald Isle, NC

Waves near The Point, Emerald Isle, NC

Walking along the beach is one of my top five favorite things to do. It is easy to think of reasons why this is the case.

First, here on the Crystal Coast, walking the beach is a great way to get alone with your thoughts. Our beaches are not crowded. One of the nicest walks I have taken was on a recent July 2. There were almost no people on the beach. I ended writing a post, Escaping the Crowds, about how uncrowded it was.

Besides being alone on the beach, the beach is the ultimate white noise machine. Unless there is a Marine jet buzzing you, it is easy to forget about the rest of civilization when you are on the beach. I remain confused by the people who need to be plugged into their iPods while walking the beach.

The beach is also the place to enjoy a perfect summer day. If you live in Eastern North Carolina, you are well aware of how hot it can get just a few miles inland from the coast. Yet by the time June rolls around, there is just enough coolness in the ocean water to make being on the beach the ultimate comfort trip.  The ocean is the perfect way to cool off.  There is nothing like a wave hitting you in the middle of your back to drain all the heat from your body.

Where is it perfectly okay to lie down almost anywhere and have a nap even in the morning? Obviously the answer is the beach. There are beaches where it is hard to find a spot for your towel. Those are not the beaches of the Crystal Coast. We have lots of room for you and all your friends.  We have so much sand, you can pick hard or soft sand for your nap in the sun.

Where is okay to get dirty feet multiple times and still have fun washing them off?  Of course it is the beach. In June the ocean water feel great on your feet. I find it a treat to slosh along with the water splashing on my ankles.  There is no better reminder of this is summer and we should truly enjoy it.  It you have a Labrador retriever, you might have seen the ultimate way for a dog to enjoy a beach.  First comes a nice swim in the waves, then a roll in the finest sand that can be found.  For even more fun, repeat until you are too tired to do it again.

There are other benefits to the beach that might not be so obvious. You can catch your dinner while getting a suntan. If you have some dead skin on your ankles, you take an exfoliating walk along the beach if you pick a nice windy day.

The beach is also a wonderful place to meet people. People in general are in a good mood when they are walking along the beach. People who might completely ignore you on a city street are likely to say “hi” or even smile at you on the beach.

Any trip to the beach is always full of surprises. Even experienced beach walkers like me are often surprised by what they find on the beach. You never know how the weather will turn out, how big the waves are going to be or even what color water you will find. Sometime you meet people covered from head to toe and other times you will see people with so little fabric on their bodies that you can only be amazed and try not to stare.

You can read more about walking on beaches at this post, Walking A Beach that I wrote back in 2009. I shudder to think about how miles of beach walking that I have done since then.  However, I have enjoyed them all.  I expect that I will back out there tomorrow afternoon if the weather holds.

There are always plenty of things to do at the beach, but it you cannot make it today, enjoy this video of the waves at the Point on Emerald Isle.  For more information about the beach, check out our newly updated for 2014, A Week at the Beach, The Emerald Isle Travel Guide.  The Kindle version is only $3.99 and it has the same 180 pages of content as the $24.95 print version. That includes eighty full color pictures and lots of detailed area maps.  Plus the Kindle version has instant access to over 150 links of additional information.

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An Irresistible Beach

Near the Point at Emerald Isle, NC

Near the Point at Emerald Isle, NC

Perhaps I just could not wait any longer. Maybe my beach senses operate on the number of hours of sunlight. It could be a combination of blue skies, little wind, and warm temperatures.

Whatever the reason, I made my way over to the Point on March 27, 2014. The Point is a special place but few people take the time to thoroughly explore its most distant sands.  It is typical in the modern world for people to hit the convenient areas and miss the places which require a few miles walking.

The Point never stops changing and is always just one storm from returning to its wild state. It is a great place to explore what even to locals is a somewhat mysterious place. A lot of people walk the areas of the point between the access ramps but only a relative few go beyond the yellow house.

Even in the summer time I can escape our limited crowds by hiking just a couple of miles farther along the beach. While I often find peace on the water in my kayak, the Point is also one of those unique spots where nature makes it possible to be alone with myself.

By the end of March, it is not unusual to find that the waters of Bogue Inlet which flow along the Point are begging to be waded. That was not the case on my recent trip. Our area waters are still very cold after a winter that has refused to let go and a spring that started with lingering cold. Still I was anxious to get out and see the changes on the Point.

I always make the trip with idea that the sands there are always changing and that I will find some feature that has disappeared or been added.  In the fall of 2007, the sands at the Point were gone as you can see from this picture. Today there is well over a quarter of a mile of sand from the vehicle access ramp west to the edge of the sand by the inlet and the water closest to Bear Island.

My first 2014 hike was a leisurely hour and one half walk of a little over three miles. It took me from the parking lot at Coast Guard Road and Station Street to the eastern most access on Wyndtree Drive and then west and north to where the beach gets very narrow by Coast Guard/Bird Island.  Then I took the shortcut back across the now dry part of Coast Guard Channel.  I made my exit from the beach at the vehicle ramp. You can follow my hike with this map. If you switch the map to satellite view, it is pretty obvious that even Google cannot keep up with the changes at the Point.  When I have more time, I usually walk all the way back up the beach.  It adds almost another two miles to the hike and brings the total walk close to five miles.

The weather on this first trip of the year was much better than I expected. If I had gone a day or two earlier, I would have been sand blasted so I pleased with the lack of wind. By the time I reached the most western point of sand , I had to shed my jacket. When I turned and headed north, I seemed to lose any hint of a breeze. I was actually happy to pick it up again as I headed back across the Point to the vehicle ramp.  There was a great view of Bear Island today as I turned the corner and headed north where I shed my jacket.  When I looked closely at my pictures in the evening, I could see the roof of one of the pavilions on Bear Island.

Perhaps the only place by the water in our area where you might get an even more complete detachment from the world is over at Hammocks Beach on Bear Island.  It is another one of my spots where I find some space that lets me unwind from the challenges of the world.

I have been coming to the Point since the summer of 1969 when the only way to get there was a four wheel drive ride down the beach. A lot has changed like roads being added hundreds of houses being built in Emerald Isle since then but the Point is still a magical place that has the power to draw me when the wind and temperature are right.

There were some wonderful evenings that I waded the warm fall waters at the Point in the fall of 2013. Most years we have a few really great days that let me visit even in January. That was not the case in 2014 and might be the reason that I was so anxious to have my first real visit of the season.

You can have a look at the pictures I took on my hike in this album and see how things have changed since I wrote this post, The End of the Sand, nearly a year ago on April 8, 2013.  That beautiful body of the water featured in that post picture no longer exists. If you want to see the pictures on a map, this Picasa web albums link should do the trick though you have to watch closely for the “Go back to Picasa web albums” message or you will end up in the Google+ album with no map.

You can read more posts about why we live on the Crystal Coast at this selection of older posts.

If you would like to see some pictures of the spectacular scenery in our area including some really great pictures of things at the Point which have disappeared, check out our recently published $2.99 Kindle reader book, 100 Pictures, 1000 Words, A Crystal Coast Year.  It is worth clicking on the link just to see the free sample of seven pictures.  Kindle reader software works on just about every platform including iPads and iPhones.

A little over a month ago we sent out our first newsletter of the season.  We will be sending  the next edition about the upcoming season on the Crystal Coast around the end of the March. Our first festival of the season, Emerald Isle’s Saint Patrick’s Festival, managed to have great weather and kick the season off with impressive crowds.

Some perfect steamed oysters have helped me get into the mood for beach season.  I have already had my boat serviced for the year and my kayak is patiently waiting on the bulkhead just a few feet from the water so I am ready for the warm weather and some serious time on the water now that I have had my first beach hike of the season under my belt.

You can also get our comprehensive travel guide to the area.  We will be publishing a free electronic update for people who buy the 2013 edition.  There is no greater place to vacation with a family than North Carolina’s Southern Outer Banks.

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Out By The Big Water

Mostly Pelicans on the eastern tip of Bear Island

Mostly Pelicans on the eastern tip of Bear Island

We live in a world with more places that have been tamed than I care to imagine.  I have always been a fan of being on the edge of civilization.  It is harder to find that feeling these days, but you can get a good taste of it out in Bogue Inlet by the ocean.

My wife is not a fan of the area where I snapped the picture of all the pelicans on Bear Island.  Perhaps she had enough living on the edge during our years in Canada. Our life in Canada’s Maritime’s was not a particularly easy one.  There were times that you were pretty close to being on your own.  Town was twenty miles away, a blizzard was blowing, the temperature was in the minus twenties and the power likely was out.

We survived with a wood stove, spring water that came through the house by gravity feed, candles and Coleman lanterns.  We also had a small generator but rarely used it. Our Chevy pickup truck never failed to start in any weather even without plugging in the block heater.

There were a lot of ways find yourself in trouble where we had our farm.  Freezing to death when the temperature drops to minus forty was just one worry.   When the wind is blowing and it is that cold, you tend to be very careful.  Materials behave very differently and exposed flesh freezes very quickly.  However,  you really feel alive if you survive a morning working outside in weather that cold.  Coming inside from deadly cold like that brings a sense of relief and a feeling of safety that most of us take for granted in our suburban existence.

Our modern world along the coast of North Carolina is not immune from danger.  People die here each year in the water.  Some die in accidents in the surf, but there are people who die because they put themselves and their boat in situations more dangerous than they have guessed.

When you take an open twenty foot boat out to Bogue Inlet, the area between the Point at Emerald Island and Bear Island,  you are in an area that can claim your boat faster than you might expect.  We have been fishing on the ocean side of Bear Island when the waves got rough enough to make us quickly pull up the anchor and head for safer waters.

There are times when it can be pretty calm out in the ocean and we do venture out beyond the beaches.  I do not go out by myself, and when I do venture out there I prefer to have a competent boater as my co-pilot.  Maybe I took enough risks on those long walks to our barn during blizzards in our years in Canada.

As you can see from the picture at the top of the post, the water near the shore was not particularly calm on our latest trip out to the area near the big water.  Anchoring in twenty feet of water in choppy seas with a strong current is also not the easiest thing to do and certainly not something that I would even attempt without another person at the helm.

The beauty of the area and the occasional fish that we catch in the rough waters draws us back year after year.  It is not a place where I take my wife who is not fond of getting wet. While I am a good swimmer, I always wear my life suspenders when I am in my boat but even with them on, falling in the water near Bogue Inlet is not something I would want to do.  Being in water that is under 60F with a strong current would not be fun any time of year much less late November.  Thoughts of the strong currents and cooling waters made me very careful when I heaved the anchor into the water recently.

You can find lots of places in our area where the water is shallow and calm and almost walking distance from shore.  Jumping into water like that in summer can even be fun, but things are very different as the waters cool from its summertime temperatures which are often well over 80F.

We try to be very safe when we are out boating. Still I am always happy to see the red Towboat.us rescue boat at Casper’s Marina as we head through Swansboro Harbor.  It is also nice to know that I have the cell phone number of Andrew, the local Towboats.us captain, programmed into my cell phone.  He could certainly be out to the Inlet in just minutes.

Still on a day like our recent trip when there are almost no other boats around out by Bogue Inlet, you know that you have to keep your wits about you and try not to do anything stupid. Making a mistake in a boat in rough waters is amazingly easy.

On our most recent November trip, we fished for a while and even caught a few small bluefish.  Then we carefully pulled the anchor and went looking for bigger fish back towards Swansboro.   Since we had limited time, we decided to head back up the river and try the oyster rocks in the White Oak River which have treated me very well recently when it comes to fish.

While you might get a boat stuck on the oyster rocks in the White Oak, contrary to my wife’s opinion, you will not sink or wash out to sea if you get in trouble on the White Oak.  It is a far different kind of place than the waters out by Bogue Inlet where boats have gotten into serious trouble even this year.  The White Oak is also a spot that I know very well even in the fog.

As much as I enjoy going out to fish around Bogue Inlet during our long boating season here on the Southern Outer Banks, there is something of a feeling of relief when we idle back into Raymond’s Gut and head to our dock.  While the elements we challenge out at Bogue Inlet are nowhere near as harsh as the ones we found in the rolling hardwood hills of New Brunswick in the depths of a blizzard, they can be just as unforgiving.

We had a chance to relax and enjoy the quiet waters of  the White Oak for a few minutes before heading home from the oyster rocks.  That trip was a short one compared to a trip out to Bogue Inlet.

After we docked and went inside to grab a turkey sandwich,  I was pleased that I could still feel a little excitement from having been out by the big water earlier in the day.  It is a nice feeling. Challenging some tough water and getting home safely does make you feel alive.

I hope I can continue visiting Bogue Inlet, those waters between the Point and Hammocks Beach, for a long time.  I am not ready for a rocking chair yet, and I am happy to be living on the Crystal Coast where there is still some excitement to be had from living close to the elements.



Seduced By The River And Fog

Fog On The White Oak River

Fog On The White Oak River

On a recent November Saturday my plans were to go for a short kayaking trip on the river, have lunch, and then head to the beach for a nice long hike along the Point at Emerald Isle.  The week was a tough one, and I needed some serious time by myself.   You can find a lot of solitude and peace at the far end of the Point.

I found that time to be alone but as is so often the case, I found it among the oyster rocks on the river.  I never made it over to the Point that day, but I did find my way over the next afternoon.  The river is at my back door and unless I go by boat to the Point, I have to get in a car and drive for a few minutes.  That being the case, the river usually wins since time in the car rarely helps anyone find peace.

From the moment I started paddling the White Oak River in the fall of 2006, I knew it was a special place.  However, it is a river you have to take the time to get to know.  Getting up the White Oak River requires a little zigging and zagging in a power boat unless you want to park your boat unceremoniously on the oyster rocks that populate the lower part of the river.

However, if you are comfortable in a kayak, the White Oak, even as it stretches to almost two miles in width, can be a very friendly place.  To be honest, I feel a lot more comfortable in the middle of the White Oak by myself in a kayak than I do in the middle of Bogue Inlet in our skiff by myself.

In my seven years of kayaking, often three or four times a week during March through December, I have never seen another kayaker in my section of the river.  I have seen some in the lower section of the river near Jones Island, but our middle section up by Raymond’s Gut is a peaceful place most of the year.  We get a few fishermen in skiffs especially during the fall.  However, even a skiff with a good captain cannot get in the area which I enjoy so much.  The most annoyance that comes from a skiff when I am on the oyster rocks would be a barking dog.

Many rivers have shallow water on their edges, and while the White Oak has plenty of that, some of the most challenging shallow water is in the middle of the river surrounded by mounds of rocks made of oyster shells or oyster rocks as we call them.  When the fish are in the river, the shallows between the oyster rocks are among their favorite feeding places.

Sometimes if you are in the right spot at the right time, you can bring home some beautiful fish like these in this picture.  They were caught Saturday, November 9, 2013.  The drum was 21″, one trout was 19″ and the other was 18″.  I returned a 16″ puppy drum to the water that same day.  In the same spot on the previous day I caught a 17″ trout.  It is days like that which keep you fishing.   I take pleasure in fishing with artificial lures so that makes catching a few nice ones even more satisfying.

Of course if you are looking for serenity and beauty, fish are always optional.  I make a lot of trips to the White Oak when I come back without fish.  Sometimes, I do not even take a fishing rod, but almost always I have a camera with me.  The beauty that I find on the river is often breathtaking and if I catch a fish for dinner that is just icing on my cake.

I often lose track of the time that I spend on the oyster rocks.  That recent November Saturday,  I thought that I had been out on the rocks an hour or so.  It turns out that I was out in the river nearly three hours.  When I came back, my GPS tracking program showed that I had paddled and floated nearly five miles on what can only be called a stunning Saturday on the White Oak.

If you have never been out on the river when the water sparkles and gleams, I can highly recommend making the effort.  The images will lock themselves into you mind for a long time.  I often go to sleep with the river’s sparkling blue water in my mind’s eye.  That is not a bad way to fall asleep.

If you cannot get out onto the river, I can recommend this album of my November 16, 2013, trip.  You will have a hard time finding that many beautiful blue water photos anywhere else.


A Great Big Coastal River

Jones Island in the White Oak River

White Oak River

For most of my life I have been in love with the water.  For the last seven years or so it might be more accurate to say that I have been smitten by the water.

In 2003, my wife and I traveled to Beaufort, North Carolina, for our thirtieth anniversary.  Beaufort is a special place and while it took three years before we found a nearby place that we could afford on the Crystal Coast, we moved here in the fall of 2006.

One of the first things that I did that fall was to purchase a kayak.  While the river in our backyard, the White Oak, does not look huge on this map, it is close to two miles wide near where we live about three miles up the river from Swansboro.  Even today the river is pretty impressive as you see from my picture taken sitting in my kayak looking down river towards Swansboro, Cedar Point and Jones Island.

That first fall the river was actually a little intimidating in a kayak just twelve feet long, but I feel very comfortable on the river now.  I know many of the oyster rocks very well and I love to work their fish-holding pockets on a beautiful fall day like Saturday, October 26.

In late spring of 2007, we purchased a 20 ft Sundance skiff which now resides on a lift behind our home on Raymond’s Gut which leads to the White Oak River.  Between the kayak and the skiff, I get plenty of time on the water.  The river looks very different from the higher view that you get from a skiff.

Taking the skiff down the river to Swansboro is one of my favorite things to do. There is something really special about getting a boat trimmed just right to glide across the water just barely breaking the surface.  With North Carolina’s temperate climate, I manage to run the boat just about every week of the year at least once.  I do get to a point in January or February when I end up wearing jeans, a jacket, and gloves, but as I am writing this, it is almost November and I am still in shorts on the boat.  Sometime I can say that even in December when almost summer-like weather visits.

While I really enjoy our skiff, being in the kayak and out on the river is truly special.  You really get close to the water and the moods of the river.  I have become so familiar with the river, that I probably go out on days when most people would stay at home.  There are usually places that I can go which keep me out of the wind and if it is truly rough on the river, I just stay in our inlet.

One of the great things about the White Oak is that it is an uncrowded, very clean river.  As you can see from the picture at the top, taken on Saturday, October 26,  you do not have to fight for space on the river.  This time of year there is usually a boat or two in sight, but it is still not unusual to have the river to yourself except for an occasional commercial fisherman passing through the oyster rocks.

Once in a while you find yourself on the river when the tides and winds work with each other to keep you in one place.  That equilibrium on the river is a great thing for fishermen like myself.  Fall is the perfect time for kayaking, and on cool mornings it is actually warmer out on the river than it is walking around on land because the water is still over 60F.

It is not unusual for me to kayak into December or even January.  By February when the water becomes cold, kayaking with only a fraction of an inch of plastic between you and the river becomes a little challenging and sometimes it takes until May for our warm kayaking water to return.

In the fall of the year I spend a lot of time sitting on the oyster rocks and fishing in the holes around the rocks by twitching a jig dressed up with a Gulp.  You can catch almost anything which is not surprising considering the tradition of good fishing during the fall on the Southern Outer Banks.

With great fall weather here for the next week, I am hoping for a nice trout for dinner one night in the next few days, but obviously I will settle for flounder or a red drum.  Fresh fish nearby is just one of the benefits of living on a big coastal river where water is on your doorstep.  November can be one of our best fishing months so the odds are in my favor for catching something tasty.

I wrote this post about life on the river over three years ago. It appears that I am even more enthusiastic about it now than I was then.  I have many albums of kayaking pictures posted and you can sample them with this one taken recently during a low tide when all the oyster rocks were visible.  When the water gets high in the marshes, the river looks even bigger.  If boating in a skiff is more your style, try this album of a trip to the marshes across the Intracoastal Waterway at Swansboro.

No matter which way you choose to get on the water, you will have a lot of fun on a river like the White Oak.

The Red Drum

Looking For A Red Drum On The White Oak River

Looking For A Red Drum On The White Oak River

Most of us set goals for ourselves.  It seems like catching fish has always been one of my mine.  Maybe it is because I have been fishing since I could barely hold a pole.  I have caught Rainbow trout on a fly rod in Montana, waded an Alaskan stream full of salmon as I caught Dolly Vardens which are actually part of the char family. I have successfully gone after Brook trout, another member of the char family, from North Carolina to New Brunswick.  While we were traveling through Alaska one summer, many of our evening meals revolved around Grayling that I caught in flooded gravel pits.

Like most North Carolina boys, I cut my teeth on catfish, bass, bream, and crappies.  They came mostly from local farm ponds.  There were saltwater fish over my early years during trips to the beaches, but I do not remember them as well.  My obsession with saltwater fishing started as my wife and I developed a regular habit of taking our children to the Nags Head area.  Eventually the crowds pushed us to Cape Hatteras where it seemed like the fisherman would make a last stand in the sand.  My family often accused me of catching the same Pompano or Bluefish over and over again from the surf near the Lighthouse Motel.

We started looking for a place on the coast in 2003 after a thirtieth anniversary celebration in Beaufort, North Carolina.  In the fall of 2005, I was privileged to enjoy a magical morning of fishing with Captain Tom Roller of WaterDog Guide Service.  That morning I caught enough flounder and trout to please anyone.  However, the real prize of the day was catching dozens of puppy drum  We did not keep any of the drum, but they left a lasting impression on me.  The first chance I got, I bought a beautiful watercolor of a Red Drum.  It has been on my office wall in our last two houses.  I am reminded of it every time I go to this page of North Carolina’s saltwater fish finder.

In the summer of 2006 we bought a home on the Southern Outer Banks of the North Carolina coast.  More specifically our home is in the Crystal Coast portion of the Southern Outer Banks.  We live just off the White Oak River not far from Swansboro and Emerald Isle.

The Red Drum is North Carolina’s state saltwater fish and we happen to live in one of the drum’s favorite spots.  While I have done plenty of fishing here on the coast and caught my fair share of Speckled Seatrout, Spanish Mackerel, and Flounder, the only Red Drum that I seemed to catch were Puppy Drum or those which need to be returned to the water.

While catching a slot-limit Drum was not an obsession, it certainly was something that I wanted to achieve.  I came close a number of times.  Once three of us were fishing off Hammocks Beach in my skiff.   The two other guys in the boat both hooked nice drum within seconds of each other.  I reeled in and netted each of the drum for them.  That was all the fish we saw for the next four hours.

In fall of 2012,  I caught a number of Puppy Drum that probably could have been stretched to meet the limit.  I resisted the temptation and even decided my drum would not count unless I got one over 20 inches.  That personal requirement made things even more interesting. When you sometimes catch three or four 17″ Puppy Drum in a fishing trip, it would be easy to just let the tape slip a little.

Not satisfied I made the challenge even harder to a casual observer.  I focused on catching my Drum with artificial bait.  However, I found that using shrimp or other cut bait seem to take away the focus from catching my Drum.  I enjoy catching a few Croakers or Pig Fish but I really wanted that Red Drum and in most cases having some cut shrimp on my hook seemed to get in the way of my goal.

Along the way there have been some memorable days fishing down here including one when we caught Bluefish until our arms were sore.  Each summer I seem to find some really nice flounder like the one I caught earlier this August.  However, the Red Drum became a quest.  I knew my fish was out on the oyster rocks in the White Oak or even in the water by my dock since I had caught a 17″ one just yards away.  I just had to find him.

While I could have fished the oyster rocks in our 20 ft. skiff, somehow it seemed more appropriate to go after my Red Drum in my kayak. It made the challenge more personal.  Certainly the kayak made it easier to get to some of my favorite oyster rocks out in the river,  but with a lot of fishy water between my dock and the rocks, I sometimes had a hard time getting there.

As the 2013 summer visitors came down for their last tastes of the beach, we got a spell of rainy weather.  With some visitors here for only a short time, even the clouds and rain did not stop us from fishing.  After three hours of fishing in the rain on Saturday, August 17, our remaining visitors took off to the beach the next day.  I needed to make an adjustment to my depth finder on the skiff so on that Sunday, August 18, I decided to slip my kayak in the water because while the boat is on the lift, it is easier to work on it from the kayak.  As long as I was going to be in the water, I decided to take a fishing rod with me.

It did not take me long to figure out that what I needed was a 1/4 inch wrench instead of a 3/8 inch one so I headed off fishing instead of being frustrated at trying to get my wife to find one of my 1/4 inch wrenches.  I got out in the river and fished a few favorite spots and called my wife to see if our company had returned.  They were still at the beach so I headed down the river to my favorite oyster rocks.

I started drifting up the river with the tide and fishing each set of oyster rocks.  I had only been fishing a short time when I got a hit that I knew was something special.  I fish with pretty light spinning gear loaded with 8 pound test line but with a heavier fluorocarbon leader. I knew I had a battle ahead of me.  It was not long before I sure that I had my Red Drum at the end of my line.  I also suspected that it would be easy to lose him especially since I left my net at the dock.  My Red Drum and I had a good battle but I eventually eased him to the side of the kayak and flipped him in with my free hand.  Then I had to deal with not having brought the piece of line that I use to take home dinner.  I took the line that I use to make sure the kayak paddle does not float away and used that as a stringer.  Once it was secure I put the drum back in the water, but I was mindful of the sharks we had caught nearby the previous day and the six foot alligator that I had seen a on August 9, so I tied my Red Drum close to the kayak and started the fifteen minute paddle back to our dock.

The trip back was uneventful except for the frequent checks to make sure the Red Drum was still with me.  My wife was waiting for me at the dock and I was able to tell her that the salmon we had planned to have for dinner could wait another day.   Our guests arrived shortly after I got back to the dock.  I got my picture taken with my long sought after Red Drum.  My wife thought he was too pretty to keep, but I wanted to eat this one fish after having thrown back sixty or seventy Puppy Drum.  My Red Drum turned out to be delicious after my excellent job of pan frying.

I told some friends that I do not care if I catch another fish this fall since bringing my Red Drum to the dock made the season for me.   Of course I went out the next day and caught a Bluefish while fishing with one of our guests.  However, it might not count since it was an unintentional Bluefish.  I was not paying any attention to the bottom rig that was in one of our rod holders.

It will not be long before I am back in the kayak chasing another Red Drum on the river.  This next one likely will go back in the river since I feel no need to eat another one right now.   Of course I already have another goal, catching an even bigger Red Drum from the surf over at the Point on Emerald Isle.  I already know where I will catch him.  I fished the waters there a few times this summer.  I just have to make certain that I am there when the big drum are there.  There is no doubt that I will be there lots over the next few months.