Last weekend I got an opportunity to drive over to Jacksonville to visit my sister. I was lucky enough to get a chance to go kayak fishing with my brother-in-law, Nels as well.
I’ve had almost zero experience fishing around Jacksonville, so I was relatively excited about getting out and giving it a try. I was told that kayakers were catching numerous redfish in the area we were going and I hoped my luck would hold out for this trip.
We woke up early Saturday morning and drove out to the launch point along with Nels’ friend Chris. Since my kayak is back home, I was borrowing one. This kayak, however, was slightly different than any I’d paddled before. What made it so different? Well…it folded in half.
Yes, directly under my seat was a hinge that allowed the kayak to be folded and stored easily. To add, the entire thing was lined with an innertube that could be blown up for extra floatation. It was kinda like a surfboard/innertube/kayak mix. So when Saturday morning rolled around, I did my best to make sure the kayak was securely locked into -one- piece, and began to paddle out.
The biggest difference that I noticed between Jacksonville fishing and fishing back home in Pensacola is the tides. We launched at high tide and it wasn’t long before we were being practically sucked out to sea by the outgoing tide. However, one thing that -wasn’t- any different than Pensacola fishing was the incessant gale-force wind. We fished for several hours as my little inflatable kayak was essentially sailed throughout the oyster bars. It wasn’t long before I realized exactly how much the tide had gone out. Areas that were easily paddled through just hours ago were now 3-4 feet up on a mud flat.
The day was not without fish though. Nels landed a nice Red directly off some oyster bars.
And it wasn’t long before I had the same sort of success.
What was strange to me was the fact that I had to cast several times in the -exact- same spot to hook a fish. Water clarity was that of chocolate milk, but I wasn’t expecting the hook-up ratio to be so low.
With the tide completely out and the wind only picking up speed, we decided to begin the paddle back to launch. We fished our way in for a couple of hours and right before we got back to launch, I started catching fish again. Two casts resulted in a little rat Red and a nice 20 inch speck.
It was getting late in the day, so we called it quits and made our way to the launch. There was a slight problem though: There was now a 50ft mud flat between us and the launch. To counter this, I paddled backwards, and gained ramming speed in my little folding kayak. The result was….less than spectacular.
|Each stroke kicked up a mud mound|
I had now managed to get the kayak stuck in less than 2 inches of water, but still 30 ft from shore.
Guess I’ll just have to get a little muddy, I thought to myself as I casually stepped out of the kayak…
I never realized that at age 23 I would find the direct route to hell via a Jacksonville mud flat. I immediately sank up to my inner thigh, and that was because I still had another foot in the kayak. The mud practically sucked at my soul and it took quite a bit of grunting, straining, and colorful expressions before I freed my muddy (and now EXTREMELY foul smelling) limb from the death trap.
Turning around, I could see that Chris was also stuck in his kayak. Since there was nothing else I could do, I rested my head down on my arms, and fell asleep to await the tide. I woke up to find that my little mud mounds from paddling in were underwater and that the water almost reached shore.
Chris managed to claw his way to shore after only falling completely into the mud once, and he was able to toss anchor lines to Nels and I to pull us the rest of the way to shore.
Overall, my fishing trip around Jacksonville was a blast. I never go out expecting to actually catch fish, and I -certainly- don’t do so in an area I’ve never fished before. So catching a few made my weekend. I look forward to going back again. Next time I’ll hopefully have my own kayak, a fly rod, and I might even time the tides a little better.