Thursday, Mark Wheeler Jr (LandingCrew) arrived at my home from Virginia Beach. We walked over to Mugs and had some wings and a few beers and made it back to Bad Backcast Central to do the Late Show together with special guest Randy Vining. After the show, we stayed up late jabbering about fishing and kayaking.
Friday, I woke Mark up with a nice selection from Born Of Osiris just in case he needed some extra motivation to wake up and get on the road. We sucked down some coffee and loaded up his truck with all of my camping and fishing gear and started driving to Jacksonville.
We were the first to arrive. I called Charlie Polochak from Irishwaterdogs.com to let him know we’d made it. He and Scott were just getting off the water and came out to the campsite with kayaks still strapped to their cars to meet us and give us some sweet Irish Water Dogs swag. Awesome guys! Charlie really made us feel welcome and we started making plans for the morning.
Mark (Yaksushi) and Chip (Treehugger) and crew arrived from Kentucky and Atlanta and we found out that Greg (Hammerhead) was already there….from New Hampshire.
Javier (Ortiz-Adarmes) from yakangler.com and Port St Lucie showed up next.
We set up our sites, made a Wal-Mart run and sat around the fire, telling stories and laughing it up. I’m sure the people who were camping next to us were hating it….
I’d got my kayak set up for the next day, so when I woke up at 6:00, I’d be ready to go. All I had to do was suck down some coffee, brush my teeth and put the kayak on my cart and wheel it down to the launch. I met up with Charlie and Scott and we pushed off to fish the marshy creeks next to the put in to wait for everyone else, but I had to go back to the site because I’d forgot my anchor.
The marshy creeks around Jacksonville are beautiful. There’s a maze of little creeks, oyster beds and sand bars to form a perfect environment for redfish, trout, flounder and black drum. We launched a few hours before high tide but the water level was pretty high. I stood up on my kayak to look into the grass and I saw the blades moving and redfish looking for prey…problem was being able to get off a shot to them in the tall grass.
Charlie was sure to spend time with everyone to make sure we all caught fish. He hooked me up with a Slayer jig head, a Saltwater Assassin Chicken on a Chain Jig, and showed me how to fish it, explaining all of the why’s and how’s. We’re lucky enough to have had a guy like Charlie who knows the area and the fish to be able to show us what we needed to do! He even hooked up Chip’s son Brad (The Clone) on a nice black drum! I ended up with 2 trout and 2 flounder on the day, all on DOA CAL shads.
We had paddled the creeks all day and ended up going downstream about 4 miles. Chip, The Clone, Scott, Pam and myself decided to start heading back. The tide was still going out and I have to say, I’ve never seen the water level drop that far and that quickly. When we started off, we were looking over fields of marsh grass gently swaying in the breeze. Now, we were about 5 feet below the top of the grass. It was a tough road to hoe paddling in the winding creeks against the current and sometimes, the wind. at one point, I had to paddle as hard and fast as I could just to inch along a 100 yard section.
Then, we reached a point in the creek that was to shallow to float the kayaks. We were about a mile from the put in, so we jumped out and started dragging our boats through the ankle deep creek bed. This is where we came up with the title “Great Presidents Day Slog”.
We got within site of the dock where we had launched….came around the last bend only to find the last 150 yards of dry creek bed. We had to carry our boats 2 at a time.
After getting our gear back to the site, grabbing a shower as the sun was going down, and a quick bite to eat, we had to get our gear loaded up and ready for a 3:00 am wake up call to meet up with Dee, Chuck, and the redfish of Mosquito Lagoon……
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