Sunday, April 25, 2010

"...A Three Hour Tour..."

I'm tired of looking at the weather and seeing "Winds 20-30 kts, small craft exercise caution", so I loaded up the kayak (much to Lacy's chagrin) on Saturday morning and drove out to Sand Key....bugger the weather. After spending a weeks worth of vacation and only getting to go fishing twice, both times minus the kayak, I'm over it.

It was a bit breezy when I arrived.

After unloading the kayak and rigging up, I tied on a black and purple bendback and a few Black Cat Brown Lures Devil Eyes to my spinning rig. As I'm putting the boat in the water, a fellow fisherman decides that this is the right time to get a clinic about all things kayak fishing and fly fishing. I'm standing in the surf, kayak in hand, being buffeted by waves and he wants to chat....

It wasn't too bad after I got past the surf line. Just 4 foot swells to navigate. The bow smashed through them fairly easily, but it reminded me of those old WWII Victory at Sea clips where the huge battleships were crashing through the rough seas, sending a deluge of spray over the deck...just on a much smaller scale.

I paddled out about 300 yards off the beach to a spot that had sparse grass about 3 feet deep and dropped off into a channel. This was the spot. I started using the flyrod, but the wind was making a mess of everything so, after about 5 casts with that, I decided to switch to the spinning gear. Third cast and it felt like I had a fish on. I reel it to within sight in the clear water and it's a snook! This is when it decides to start pulling back and after fighting for a few minutes, I brought to hand a 20 incher (sorry, was too wavy to attempt to get the camera out of the dry box and snap photos, no matter what Micheal Gracie says about it) I was getting hits on almost every cast and could see fish chasing my jig bouncing across the bottom. Caught a few 15 inch ladyfish too as well as another snook about the same size as the first.

Then, I felt a "thunk" on the end of the line, set the hook and started reeling. Dead weight. I thought I was snagged on a rock.... then the rod doubled over, line coming off the reel with that "zzzzzzzzz" sound that we all love. With 10 lb braided line and a 30 lb leader, I decided to play it safe. Drag was set perfectly, giving the fish the ability to pull some line, but having to work at it. After about 20 seconds of this with a potentially huge black drum...slack line....nothing....I reeled in a broken leader....frayed....whatever it was, it was pretty large to pull like that.

I'm trying to re-rig as my other spinning set up was safe and sound at home. I noticed that the seas had picked up quite a bit and whitecaps were slamming into me sideways. Trying to re-rig like this was like threading a needle while jogging. There was a spoil island about 300 yards away and the shoreline was about the same distance in the opposite direction. I decided to go for the shoreline. After 20 minutes of paddling into the wind with everything I had, it felt like the kayak was reacting slowly and that having to paddle 4 times on one side to turn was strange. Waves were pounding me every few seconds now but my kayak is super stable....right? I arrived at the beach winded and had to drag the boat down the shoreline to get to the car. It felt about 3 times heavier than normal. After dragging it up the beach to the car, I opened up the hatches to find that the entire boat was close to half full! No wonder it was so sluggish and heavy.

I'm lucky that I went in when I did. Otherwise, I'm sure I would have eventually foundered and sank with the tide turning a short time later, I would have been sucked out of the pass and into the Gulf....

Don't tell me that I need to invest in an EPERB now.....


  1. 4' is pretty much flat here in Oregon. We're pretty much excited anytime seas are under 8'

  2. Oh. I would suggest a hand bilge pump and a VHF radio. Just one hatch not sealed right can dump a ton of water in kayak in no time, especially when taking breakers. I'd definitely take some time to figure out where the water came in.

    A handheld, submersable, VHF radio should be standard for anyone venturing into the salt.

  3. I know exactly where the water got in at....the big gator hatch in the front. Either I'm a dumbass or none of my hatches seal all the way. My "livewell" storage area where I keep everything that I need at hand was totally flooded too. Maybe I don't have the hatches closed properly? Stability wise it handled great until the entire hull filled up. How do you do it in 8 foot swells???

  4. Those days are always the most memorable. Epic weather usually brings on epic days, when the great outdoors is you playground!

  5. You're gonna need a pet monkey that can make pottery outta plastic explosives if ya keep this stuff up ;)

  6. That's nucking futs. Stay safe out there!