December Waters

On the White Oak

On the White Oak

Most people would be surprised to hear me say that December is a good time of the year to be living by the water.  This will be our seventh winter here on the Crystal Coast and experience says that we have a reasonable chance of having some great days on the water.  It is a little early to declare December 2012 a really nice month, but the forecast for the first week looks very good.

When six out of the first seven days in December have a high temperature at sixty degrees Fahrenheit or above, you will hear no complaints from me.  We had a similar run of shorts weather in December 2011.  Unfortunately there are no guarantees with the weather.

We can hope, but we have to take what we get.  The winter of 2010 started out much different from the winter of 2012.  On December 8, 2010, I wrote a post called “Nothing but Ice.”  That year the ice wasn’t a surprise since we had an early Saturday in December when the temperature only rose to 43F.  The weather was about as cold as it gets here on the Southern Outer Banks of the North Carolina Coast.

Unfortunately it even got worse that year.  We had snow on the dock on December 26.  As we got into January 2011, it was clear that it would be an old-fashioned winter and one for the record books here along the Southern Outer Banks.

That was not the kind of weather we expect here in Eastern North Carolina.  Many of us live here on the coast because most years you can enjoy the water twelve months out of the year.  I might be a little bundled up when I take a ride down the White Oak in January or February but I do it so that I can appreciate the heat in July and August.

Even during the notorious cold winter of 2010-11, I managed to grab some time on the water in February.  However, I prefer winters like last year when it is warm enough not only for boat rides but also for walking the beaches.

While we went through a wet, cool spell in the fall of 2012,  there have been more than enough days with great weather that offers an opportunity to enjoy our local waters.  Fall is fishing season here at the coast so I like to focus on the fish in my backyard.

The fall of 2012 has been a very good fishing season.  While I don’t catch something every time that I go out,  I have done very well this year.  I have the choice of fishing with a kayak or skiff, but in the fall I love to fish in the White Oak with my kayak.  Sitting out by the oyster rocks in the middle of the river is a good way to enjoy the peacefulness of my surroundings.  Sometimes there are even some tasty rewards like this flounder that I cooked less than an hour after I caught it in the White Oak.

I often work the oyster rocks in the river and the marsh grass on the edges.  I also have good luck fishing our inlet.  This year the fish seem to be close to home.  I caught this nice puppy drum weighing about four pounds about 350 feet from our home.  It was one of those days when I had worked a lot of the water without any fish including some in the middle of the river.  It was persistence that got a fish that close to home.

I have lost count of the number of puppy drum that I have caught and released this fall, but it has been my best puppy drum fall.    I haven’t caught a trout as nice as the one I caught last fall when I got this one that weighed over two pounds, but I have gotten a trout or two.

Last year, I caught a lot of trout out in the middle of the river, this year all my fish so far have been caught inside the Red Sixteen buoy.

Fishing is just part of the fun for me.  I enjoy sneaking up on the great blue herons and other birds.  In the kayak, I can get some really great pictures of our own big bird.  It is even possible to get some shots of the kingfishers which rarely stay in one spot for very long.  This one posed for me in the afternoon sunlight.

Beyond birds and fish, you also get to enjoy some spectacular sunsets.  I got a number of great sunset shots the evening of December 1, 2012.  This one which I call Kayak Evening is one of my favorites.  A number of folks enjoyed this one which I call Fire in the Water.

With fish, birds, and the opportunity to view great sunsets, I don’t know what there is to not like about December on the water as long as we can keep the cold temperatures up North where they belong.