This Boondoggle was held at the southernmost area of the Georgia coast. The camping headquarters was the Crooked River State Park, just outside of St Mary’s, GA and Kings Bay Nuclear Submarine Base. The park overlooks Crooked River from Elliot’s Bluff, and the river is a spotted sea trout great fishery this time of the year.
On Friday, WildRover, JoeDoozer, and I launched from Harriett’s Bluff ramp to target trout on this section of the Crooked River. Harriett’s Bluff is only a six-mile paddle from park, but with an outgoing tide this journey would have been a difficult paddle against the very swift. We drove twenty miles from the park Harriett’s Bluff. We paddled to the left of launch, and fished the docks and rock rip rap along the shore. This looked very fishy to me. WildRover and I did not get any hits on the various artificial we tried. As we approached a point just past the last dock there was a fast current, so I decided to drift through the area. While dragging a D.O.A. Shad on a 1/4oz jig head, I got a slight tap but missed the hook set. I paddled back to have WildRover give this section a try. We drifted it a couple more times, then moved on.
The next section of shoreline gave us our first opportunity to fish some creeks flowing from the grass flats and oyster beds. I decided to fan cast the mouth of the first creek, and targeted the oyster rakes in the off chance for a redfish or speckled trout. WildRover paddled further down to check out some other oyster beds near two small creeks. I traveled up the creek in the hopes of seeing some redfish coming out of the grass flats, but did not see any fish in the area I paddled up to anchor with WildRover, and we visited instead of fished. After all, this was a Boondoggle, and it was not all about fishing but meeting people, too. While we talked about fishing techniques, JoeDoozer finally arrived and joined us for the.
After a while, WildRover decided to paddle back to the docks to fish, while JoeDoozer and I went to check out Grover Creek. There were some baitfish, but we could not find any redfish or trout. We decided to paddle back to the launch area to meet up with WildRover. It was getting about time to and enjoy a great Louisiana Cajun boil in the campground.
Our host for dinner was Russ aka SaltWarrior. His recipe had tons of crawfish, baby red potatoes, sweet corn, garlic, onions, mushrooms, and smoked sausage. I might be overstating the amount of crawfish, but I can recall at least three “dumpings” of cooked food on two picnic tables. This was a well-boiled meal. If you never have had a Louisiana Cajun boil, be sure to plan on attending one of the February Boondoggles and be at the table on Friday night.
Saturday’s wind forecast did not look very good. In fact, there was a small craft advisory in effect, so the weather provided a great opportunity to visit with WildRover and discuss the art of rigging plastic baits to jig heads, worm style hooks, or keel-weighted flutter hooks. The plastics that we looked at were jerk baits, shad tail or paddle tail, curly tail grubs, and the D.O.A. “Airhead” plastics. We also discussed rod and reel combinations, and setting drag when fighting a fish. It was a great way to spend a windy morning.
After the impromptu seminar, WildRover and I went in two different directions. He was heading to get something to eat and take a nap to rest up for the next evening event - the potluck Marian and I would host. I was planning to go fishing for a few hours with Robert1970. We decided to head to White Oak Creek near Woodbine, GA. Treehugger had reported this area was fairly wind protected, and there were reports of stripers being caught in the area that transitions from saltwater to freshwater. We stayed on the saltwater side of the bridge, and paddled toward the Satilla River. This section of the creek had a lot of structure - stumps and logs. Another unique feature set was the canyon-style “walls” that were very noticeable at low tide. These walls of earth must have been 7’ – 8’ high, and would provide great structure for speckled trout to lurk, waiting on their next meal. This trip was a nice paddle and exploration of a new area, but it was time to head back to help prepare the cabin for the evening potluck.
As is normal for a Boondoggle, there was plenty of food and many fishing tales to be shared. Some people visited on the porch, some in the cabin enjoying the fake fire in the fireplace, and some were sitting around the campfire singing songs. I was even asked to sing my favorite fishing song. Using my smartphone, I managed to search for the song: “Walleye”, with lyrics by Richard A. Lewis & Larry Hayes, to the tune of “Rawhide” by Dmitri Tiompkin. This is a great, fun song that makes everyone laugh (or are they laughing at my singing?). Saturday night is also the traditional signing of the Boondoggle banner, which is presented to someone Sunday night.
Sunday’s weather was much better, and the conversations from Saturday evening had yakanglers grouping up to head out for that elusive trout or redfish. The group that Marian and I were going to spend the day with was JoeDoozer, Greg, RedfishJax, FLNavyVet, Robert1970, Cindy, and a few others. Marian and I were the last ones to launch, and we started fishing the same docks from Friday’s fishing excursion. We were almost to the last dock and Marian hooked a fish. She was really excited, and I tried to get to her to help land her first Boondoggle fish. She had it out of the water and almost in the Jackson Kayaks “Cuda” when the 12”trout decided to let go. She was using a 1/8oz jig head with a trout trick.
I started working just past the last dock and casting parallel along the rock rip rap. Eventually I felt a slight soft bite and I set the hook. It was fish on! In no time I managed to net a nice spotted trout, just under 19”. This trout was caught on a ¼ oz jig with a figi chicken shad from D.O.A. We continued to work our way around the point, down to the flat that contained some oyster beds. The wind was starting to pick up and the other anglers were heading back, so we decided to call it a day.
That evening back in the campground, ScubaStan and Snakegirl hosted the leftover potluck. It was decided there that I would be knighted with the pink boa and pink crocs, to hold until the next Boondoggle. What are the criteria to receive such a honor? I really do not know; maybe catch the biggest fish, but I’m not sure if my trout was the biggest. Maybe because ScubaStan, Snakegirl, and I are tied at six Boondoggles out of seven. I really do not know. All I know is that I could be tying a lot of pink flies made with boa hackles.
Next was the recognition of the recipient of the Boondoggle banner. Normally the recipient is from the host state and helped coordinate the Boondoggle activities. In this case, there was no one from the Georgia coast who planned the various events. The sponsors decided that SaltWarrier from Louisiana would receive the banner, in recognition of his hard work hosting crawfish boils at several Boondoggles.
The next morning, some Boondogglers headed out to prepare for the Adventure Fishing World Championship in Flamingo, FL. Others headed home - back to South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Louisiana, Texas, etc. Where will the next Boondoggle be held? I don’t know, but rumor has it might be at KARS Park, FL on Columbus Day Weekend in October. To find out the official location, listen to KayakFishingRadio and visit YakAngler.com.