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Topic: Picnic Key< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
wannabanks Offline

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Joined: Mar. 2006
Posted: Dec. 13 2006,05:30

Full of eagerness and ambition we paid no mind to the grimacing smirk that the Ranger gave us when we informed him that we were going to kayak from Everglades City to Picnic Key. It made no difference that we were embarking on a voyage that would cause us to paddle against the tide for 8 miles, take us 4 hours, and would be 40 degrees at night. Such impediments were mere pittance compared to the adventurous spirit we had.

A couple of hours into the paddle we realized that this mission would be more difficult than anticipated and the look of the Ranger’s face played like a broken record in my head. Nevertheless, we never spoke of it, and enjoyed the scenery. I must say the scenery is absolutely gorgeous. The immensity of the mangroves is astonishing.

It was when we reached the southwesterly tip of Indian Key Pass that we pulled out the map to determine where we were.

A map of the area and a compass is absolutely essential since everything virtually looks the same. I CANNOT stress this enough. Apparently we made a wrong turn and ended up in what seemed like a mangrove maze. I mean there were twist and turns and after each one we would expect to see our campsite, only to be disappointed by more mangroves. A slight sense of panic set in since it was getting dark and getting really cold. We stopped and backtracked for a while and eventually found our way back to the main channel. By this time it was dark and the wind was blowing something fierce. It took all of our strength to make it to Indian Key. This was the only place we could find that was suitable for a landing.

Ah...Finally we made it on dry ground. We set up camp and had a fire going in record time.

We threw on some dry clothes, cracked a bottle of Crown Royal made some grub and admired the beauty of our surroundings. As the night went on and the clouds cleared, you could see what was one of the most beautiful skies I have ever scene. Stars, the sounds of water all around you, and moonlight peaking to cracks in the clouds made for a pleasant way to end the day.

We awoke the next day and made our way to Picnic Key and made camp. Play time! We grabbed our poles tied on some lures and decided to fish the incoming tide.

We did not catch anything that day but this would soon change. The next day we packed up camp and began our journey back up the 8-mile stretch.

I decided to tie on a DOA lure and troll the entire way back to Everglades City.

I caught 4 trout and 1 Mackerel.

They seemed to enjoy the chartreuse color.

Made it back to our starting point loaded up the car and headed home replaying our adventure.
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Beachcamper Offline

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Joined: July 2005
Posted: Dec. 14 2006,05:45

Great story and at least you had fun!

My first paddle trip down there in a Scupper Pro without rudder just after selling my powerboat proved similar to your experience. I knew about tides and currents but had no clue how it would affect the effort on paddling. I also had never paddled more than two miles anywhere.  I left the put in at 3 o'clock in the afternoon...it gets dark real quick in the winter, not good....another mistake was not plotting the course on my chart (no gps was available when I started paddling the 'glades many years ago) I also did not plot a wind route should a protected passage be more appropriate...as it should have been  because the winds were 20 -25 knots and a front was approaching.  

So....we left real happy and feeling adventurous  and we slipped into Indian Key pass. It felt like paddling on wet cement and the scenary was not passing us by :(  It was the full mid tide portion of the cycle on a FULL MOON tide.  Anyway, the ranger had told us to take the "LeMans" a series of creeks that open up to Gaskin Bay for the protected wind route. It was a very confusing twisty creek and night was soon approaching and we were cold and VERY tired. luckily I had packed my headlamp where I could reach it and put that on to read the map and find my way out of that creek. I still could not find Picnic Key and was panicking.  After two hours we made it to the beach and as I think back we were almost hypothermic wearing cotton shorts and a t-shirt and soaking wet from head to toe from the spray and strong winds.  

So...yes...it could get worse and I have learned ALOT from my experiences. Now I make the trip at least once a month to fish and relax to all the islands in that area that are campable. It's a blast!  But you can bet my equipment is real different and so is my boat and clothing choices. I still use chart and compass never got into the GPS thing but may someday. But the routes are plotted carefully with contingency plans.
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RDS Offline

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Joined: April 2004
Posted: Dec. 14 2006,17:56

My first trip there had a similar anti-tidal theme to it as I didn't know any better. We decided to try Sandfly Island on a day trip, paddled up the channel just southwest of the one we were supposed to go in- as you know they all look the same- and found a nice 2-2.5 mph incoming current in a kayak that tops out at about 3.5 mph. After about 15 minutes of supreme effort to go about 1/4 mile, I gave up and drifted back to the bay. I think I had 1-2 catfish to show for my efforts that day.

For those who would like to try the 10K islands in a protected group, Captain Wright's 3rd annual paddle-in from the Smallwood Museum in chokoloskee is on Feb 24, 2007. We had at least 50 people last year. Everything is back in season by then, although the snook are pretty sluggish in February.

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Capn Jimbo Offline
The Godfisher

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Posted: Dec. 18 2006,18:48

Thanks for a great report...


Tight lines,
Capn Jimbo

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Tanner Offline
Moderator - Rigs n Rigging

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Posted: Dec. 24 2006,00:20

I envy your experience :cool:

"A good rule of angling philosophy is not to interfere with any fisherman’s ways of being happy, unless you want to be hated." -Zane Grey, Tales of Fishes, 1919
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4 replies since Dec. 13 2006,05:30 < Next Oldest | Next Newest >

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