The First Kayak Trip of Spring

That first trip out on the river by the kayak is pretty special. My challenge is restraining myself until the water is safe. That usually means waiting until the water temperature is around 70F and the weather is not changing every few hours. Not surprisingly that moment happens at different times each year.

In March of 2013, the water in the White Oak River was 53F on March 11. It climbed to 62F on March 19, but only managed to warm another of couple degrees to 64F by April 2. By April 14, the river finally warmed to 71F. Because of windy conditions it still took until April 17 before I was out fishing the river and enjoying it with my kayak.

March of 2012, the water warmed up much more quickly. By March 19, it was up to 68F. It climbered over 70F just a couple of days later. In one of those quirks of spring on March 23, the water peaked at 74F in the middle of the White Oak before the temperature started heading down. It had fallen to 69F when I put my kayak in the water on April 1 and the water temperature continued its downward trend to 67F on April 3. By April 8 the temperature in the river had crashed to 62F. It was April 28 before I saw the water temperatures climb back in the mid-seventies.

The water temperature in our river which is part of a very complex environment rarely goes straight up without taking some detours downward, but generally we get out on the water sometime close to when the local strawberries get ripe.

Below is the story of the first kayaking in 2011 when I got on the river on March 26. Take notice of the changeable weather that chased me back to the dock that first trip of spring and be prepared for the same if you go out on the water by kayak early in the year. The picture was taken in Raymond's Gut looking towards the White Oak River and was taken on that first 2011 trip.

March 26, 2011

This has been just a great week to get an early spring taste of the waters of the Crystal Coast. We have seen a number of days when our afternoon temperatures were in the eighties.

On Wednesday, I managed to take our boat out on the river twice. The second time was later in the afternoon and turned out to be our first fishing trip of the season. It was a wonderful day to be on the water.

Actually anyone who picked the week of March 20, 2011 to be at the beach can pick my next set of lottery tickets. I don’t think you could ask for better beach weather. On my Wednesday morning trip out on the water I noticed that the water temperature was almost 70F.

Seventy degrees is actually my spring coolness threshold for kayaking. So Thursday evening after I finished work, and after the water had another day to warm, I decided to take the kayak out for its first spring run.

I am really lucky because during kayak season my kayak is just sitting on the bulkhead a few feet from the water. I just grab my gear and slide it through the marsh grass into the water. It just takes a few minutes.

It was a great evening for kayaking on Thursday, March 24. The winds were light, and the temperature was in the upper seventies. It only takes seven or eight minutes to get to the end of our inlet where I took the picture at the top of the post. You can see that I had smooth sailing and some beautiful scenery.

As I eased out into the river around the point, the sun broke out from behind the clouds and illuminated Silver Creek Plantation. I then paddled along parallel to the reef of oyster rocks just offshore of the old site of Worthy is the Lamb.

After fishing in the light current along the end of the oyster rock, I headed farther out into the river near one of my favorite fishing spots. I fished along the back side of a large reef of oyster rocks, and then I noticed that my blue sky and nice weather were disappearing. Even the water appeared to be turning dark.

Also the winds created a lot of chop on the water so I started to make my way back towards the Red Sixteen Buoy which marks the beginning of the channel to Bluewater Cove. The changing weather wasn’t so bad that I neglected any promising fishing spots, but I still didn’t get a single hit on my gulp which according to young clerk at Dudley’s had yielded an even dozen red drum earlier this week week along what shall remain a nameless channel.

Since the waters were quiet when I got inside our inlet, I even worked the waters of Raymond’s Gut most of the way back to my dock, but the fish were not biting, and the air temperatures were dropping rapidly.

After I stuck the nose of the kayak into the marsh grass, I called my wife with my cell phone. We hook the truck to the kayak and I get a pull up the little hill onto the grass. It makes getting out of kayak easy, dry, and clean. The only problem was that my wife was a little rusty. I had thrown on shore the rope which is attached to the cable from the kayak. The cable is what is hooked to the tow strap on the truck.

Unfortunately she was distracted on Thursday night when she came out. She just got in the truck and started driving. Of course without being hooked to the tow strap, all I could do was sit there and wave my paddle in the air. it didn’t take her long to put two and two together. She stopped, came down and hooked the tow strap to the kayak cable, and I was on the grass in a couple of minutes.

When I got the kayak stowed and my gear inside, I was surprised to see that the temperature had dropped to 55F in just over an hour. A twenty plus degree temperature drop is certainly a way to get me in and off the water.

Still I had a great time, got some exercise, and got to see some beautiful scenery in some of my favorite spots.

You can follow my journey on this Google map. The first trip of the year is always special even in quickly changing weather. Still there are plenty of days later in the year that it will be a lot nicer on the water and on the beach.

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